This Week in Cold War History, Week 18

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May 1st, 1960

May 1st, 1960

U2 SPY PLANE SHOT DOWN

An American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Sverdlovsk (modern Yekaterinburg), Russia. The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Russian court. Two years later, he was released in an exchange for a Soviet spy.

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May 4th, 1970

May 4th, 1970

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS

Four Students at Kent State University were shot dead and 11 other wounded by National Guardsmen when a crowd of 1,000 students were protesting President Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia. The shootings sparked demonstrations across the US, temporarily closing 450 colleges and universities.

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May 5th, 1961

May 5th, 1961

ALAN SHEPARD FIRST AMERICAN IN SPACE

Piloting the spacecraft Freedom 7, Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he reached an altitude of 186 km above Earth. This was 23 days after the Russians had launched Yuri Gagarin as the first ever human in space. Truly peak moments of human history.

 
I realized up there that our planet is not infinite. It’s fragile. That may not be obvious to a lot of folks, and it’s tough that people are fighting each other here on Earth instead of trying to get together and live on this planet. We look pretty vulnerable in the darkness of space.
— Alan Shepard