From 1955 to 1958, American and Soviet engineers battled to launch successfully the world's first satellite, as the first nation to do so would gain advantages in science, the Cold War propaganda contest, and the military balance of power. The race to orbit featured two American teams led by rival services - the army and the navy - and a Soviet effort so secret that few even knew it existed. Now, Matt Bille and Erika Lishock tell this story from both sides of the Iron Curtain, from the origins of spaceflight theory through the military and political events that shaped the modern world. Some aspects of this story, such as the navy's Notsnik satellite project, are almost unknown. Even some details of well-known programs, such as the appearance of America's pioneering Explorer 1 satellite and the contributions made by its rival, Project Vanguard, are generally misremembered. In today's era of space shuttles, Mars rovers, and the International Space Station, it is difficult to imagine just how challenging the first steps into space really were.Yet at the end of the race, not only had those first satellites been launched, but the resulting new technologies had forever changed life on Earth.