俄罗斯太空努力的历史始于第二次世界大战。在这场巨大冲突结束时，美国和苏联都俘获了德国火箭和火箭部件。在此之前，这两个国家都涉足过火箭科学。美国的罗伯特戈达德发射了该国的第一枚火箭。在苏联，工程师谢尔盖·科罗廖夫也曾试验过火箭。然而，研究和改进德国设计的机会对这两个国家都具有吸引力，他们进入了20世纪50年代的冷战，每个人都努力超越对方进入太空。美国不仅从德国带来了火箭和火箭部件，而且还运送了一些德国火箭科学家来帮助刚刚起步的国家航空咨询委员会（NACA）及其计划。苏联人也捕获了火箭和德国科学家，并最终在20世纪50年代初开始尝试动物发射，尽管没有人进入太空。然而，这些是太空竞赛的第一步，并使这两个国家在地球上匆匆赶去。苏联在1957年10月4日将人造卫星1送入轨道时赢得了该比赛的第一轮。这对苏联的骄傲和宣传来说是一个巨大的胜利，对于刚刚起步的美国太空努力来说，这是一个重大的打击。苏联在1961年随后将第一个进入太空的人Yuri Gagarin推出。然后，他们派出了第一位太空女子（Valentina Tereshkova，1963），并在1965年由Alexei Leonov执行了第一次太空行走。看起来非常像苏联人也可能将第一个人送上月球。然而，由于技术问题，问题堆积并推迟了他们的月球任务。
The history of Russia’s space efforts starts with World War II. At the end of that huge conflict, German rockets and rocket parts were captured by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Both countries had dabbled in rocket science before that. Robert Goddard in the U.S. had launched that country’s first rockets. In the Soviet Union, engineer Sergei Korolev had experimented with rockets, too. However, the chance to study and improve upon Germany’s designs was attractive to both countries and they entered into the Cold War of the 1950s each striving to outdo the other into space. Not only did the U.S. bring over rockets and rocket parts from Germany, but they also transported a number of German rocket scientists to help with the fledgling National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and its programs. The Soviets captured rockets and German scientists, too, and eventually began experimenting with animal launches in the early 1950s, although none reached space. Yet, these were the first steps in the space race and set both countries on a headlong rush off Earth. The Soviets won the first round of that race when they put Sputnik 1 into orbit on October 4, 1957. It was a huge win for Soviet pride and propaganda and a major kick in the pants for the fledgling U.S. space effort. The Soviets followed up with the launch of the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Then, they sent the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova, 1963) and did the first spacewalk, performed by Alexei Leonov in 1965. It looked very much like the Soviets might score the first man to the Moon, too. However, problems piled up and pushed back their lunar missions due to technical problems.