The Space Race officially launched on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union placed Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite, into Earth’s orbit. The United States fired back four months later, on January 31, 1958, by launching its own satellite, Explorer I. While both superpowers’ programs facially focused on scientific research, each was funded and directed by their respective militaries. Military functions in space followed shortly, with the United States beginning to place its first reconnaissance satellites in space in 1959 as part of the Corona program. American and Soviet discussions following these initial military developments eventually led to the adoption of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which severely restricted the types of military activities the two powers could conduct either in orbit or in the greater reaches of space. The United States has recently created a new military branch exclusively focused on space. This new branch—the Space Force—will be greatly restricted by those early treaties.
Clayton J. Schmitt,
The Future Is Today: Preparing the Legal Ground for the United States Space Force,
74 U. Miami L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.miami.edu/umlr/vol74/iss2/7