Today marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the mission which landed the first men on the moon. The moon landing effectively ended the space race, the fierce competition between the United States and the Sovet Union.

In this gallery, we look back at the key events in a race initially dominated by the USSR.

Sputnik 1
4 October 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I, the first artificial Earth satellite, triggering the space race between the US and the USSRAFP
3 November 1957: A dog named Laika becomes the first living creature to orbit the Earth, aboard Sputnik 2. She died within hours of take-off, but this wasn't made public until 2002AFP
belka strelka
19 August 1960: Belka and Strelka (along with a rabbit, 42 mice, two rats, some flies and several plants and fungi) become the first living creatures to return from space, aboard Sputnik 5
Yuri Gagarin
12 April 1961: Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to journey into outer space and to orbit the Earth, on a mission lasting one hour and 48 minutesAFP
Alan Shepard
5 May 1961: The US sends a man into space. Alan Shepard's test flight on Freedom 7 lasted just 15 minutesNasa
Gherman Titov
6 August 1961: Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov spends a full day in space, orbiting the Earth 17 times in Vostok 2. He is still the youngest person to reach space, being just 25 at the timeAFP
Valentina Tereshkova
16 June 1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space, spending nearly three days in space aboard Vostok 6, and orbiting the Earth 48 timesAFP
first spacewalk
18 March 1965: Alexey Leonov performs the first spacewalk, spending 12 minutes outside Voskhod 2AFP
Gemini 5
21 August 1965: The US finally moves ahead in the space race, as they break the record for longest manned space flight. Pete Conrad and Gordon Cooper's mission lasted nearly eight daysNasa
24 December 1968: Apollo 8 is launched, becoming the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit and go into orbit around the Moon. Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders also became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon and witness EarthriseNasa
Apollo 11
16 July 1969: Apollo 11 is launched, carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to the MoonNasa
Moon walk
21 July 1969: American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first men to walk on the Moon, effectively bringing an end to the space raceNasa