On this Day in 1961, the Russians successfully launched Venera 1 which became the first spaceship to successfully fly past Venus.

This was a big event as it was the first spaceship of its kind to successfully make the journey.

Launched in February 1961, it flew past Venus on May 19 of the same year, however radio contact with the probe was lost before the flyby, resulting in it returning no data.

Venera 1 was the second of two attempts to launch a probe to Venus in February 1961, immediately following the launch of its sister ship Venera-1VA No.1 which failed to leave Earths Orbit.

During this time the space race was really rife between the US and the USSR.

Both parties were determined to out perform the other, with Kennedy announcing that America would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade in May 1961.

The cold war tensions ran through the space race, and only heightened the competition for power and development in both the US and USSR.

These early missions only exacerbated the tensions for who would make it too the moon first.

Both the US and USSR spent vast amounts of money to achieve these goals.