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Historical Era

Thinking Skill


Apollo-Soyuz: Space Age Detente

Launch Lesson

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Education Staff
Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast
Historical Era:
Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
Primary Historical Thinking Skill:
Historical Analysis & Interpretation
blooms taxonomy
Bloom's Taxonomy:

Use to create an Activity

Apollo-Soyuz: Space Age Detente


In July 1975, the first joint Soviet-American spacecraft docking took place. In this activity, students will analyze the way that government officials in both the United States and the Soviet Union valued space exploration for more than scientific advancement. Students will learn about the ways space exploration was used for diplomacy and the impact of international tensions underlying the science.

Author’s Notes

For grades 6–12. Approximate time needed is 30 minutes.

This activity works well with units about the Apollo program or US-Soviet relations in the Cold War. Students should have background on the Cold War and some knowledge of the space program.

For an introduction, ask students about their knowledge of the Apollo program.

  • What was the main purpose?
  • Who started it?
  • Which Presidents were involved?
  • How long did it last?

After identifying these answers, ask if students know other things the Apollo program was used for. If they do not identify diplomacy, then add that to their list.

After this introduction, divide students into groups. Instruct students to analyze the documents by comparing them to each other. By the end of the activity, students should be able to identify the authors, their main points, and how their letters differ.

Once the activity is finished, reconvene. Ask students to brainstorm ideas about why space provided unique opportunities for encouraging diplomacy. See if they have additional knowledge about cooperation between the United States and other nations on other space programs.

Documents in this activity: