Two years after the end of WWII the United States and the Soviet Union are getting along about as well as a couple of cats trapped in a burlap sack. President Harry S. Truman announces a doctrine (named after himself, of course) that aims to stop the spread of Communism. This event is often seen as a starting point for the Cold War. (Source)
In anticipation of the International Geophysical Year, which was to begin in 1957, the U.S. government announces plans to place a satellite in Earth's orbit. The U.S.S.R. scurries to make the same claim and four days later announces their own plans for launching a satellite.
The race is on.
The U.S.S.R. surges ahead in the Space Race by successfully placing Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, in Earth's orbit.
Yeah. It sounds like a potato…and looks like a designer juicer.
After winning the election, John F. Kennedy becomes President of the United States of America and dreamboat-elect.
The U.S.S.R. blasts ahead in the Space Race yet again by sending the first human, Yuri Gagarin, to space. Poyekhali! (Which, to all you non-Russian speakers, means "Let's go!") (Source)
JFK is shot in Dallas, Texas, while on parade. That same day, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn into office as the President of the United States.
After winning the election, Richard Nixon becomes the President of the United States of America and one of the hottest recording artist of the early '70s.
The Apollo 11 spacecraft delivers the first humans to the moon and the U.S. eclipses the Soviets in the Space Race.
After the fallout from the Watergate scandal, President Nixon faces impeachment and resigns from office. Vice President Gerald Ford is sworn into office as President of the United States.
American and Soviet astronauts pal around in space—a collaboration that effectively ends the Space Race.
After winning the election, Jimmy Carter becomes the President of the United States of America and maintains an expression of suppressed discomfort for the rest of his life.
Though this might be a blanket statement, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan to advance their communist agenda in the region. It was a big, violent mess that lead to an embargo by the U.S. against the U.S.S.R. and swept détente under the rug.
After winning the election, Ronald Reagan becomes the President of the United States of America and jacks up the pressure of the Cold War with his conservative foreign policies, increased military development, and unwavering anti-communist sentiments.
Mr. T visits the White House dressed as Santa Claus, and First Lady Nancy Reagan sits on his lap. It's still unclear who was naughty and who was nice, but we pity the fool who was the former. (Source)
After four years of battling Soviet Communism, President Ronald Reagan is re-elected for a second term and second helping of bitter Soviet aggression.
The space shuttle Challenger breaks apart in the sky, killing its entire crew. Later that day, President Reagan discusses the nasty business during a live broadcast.
A presidential task force is called to investigate the cause of the Challenger accident. It is known as the Rogers Commission based on the name of its chairman, William P. Rogers. The report reveals why the spacecraft failed and made the term "o-rings" (wait...isn't that just a ring?) notorious.
After eight years President Reagan leaves office. President-elect George H. W. Bush is sworn into office.
Seventeen years after the Challenger disaster, the space shuttle Columbia burns up in the sky upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere and the entire crew is killed. (Source)