Kennedy’s goal of space exploration included landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to Earth. He hoped that achieving this goal would bring the US out of the “status hole” it was in. The US sent the first American, Alan Shepard, into space on May 5, 1961. Even though this event took place less than a month after the first Russian manned space flight, Kennedy was concerned that the US was still behind in the technology race. He quickly proposed the construction of lunar space crafts and satellites for world weather and communications. Establishing these technological goals quickened the pace of space technology research. Kennedy’s decision to accelerate the space program was not based solely on Russia’s head start in space. On April 17, 1961, a US sponsored attack on Cuba and Fidel Castro by a group of exiles failed miserably. The CIA had trained over 1,400 Cuban exiles for the amphibious assault on Cuba to oust Castro. The following attempt by the US government to conceal its involvement also proved unsuccessful. The diplomatic embarrassment motivated Kennedy to orchestrate a feat great enough to restore the US reputation.
The Russian head start in space had left the US months