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As part of a mission to develop space rescue capability, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo Command/Service Module and the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 19 docked in space on July 17, 1975. As the hatch was opened between the two vessels, commanders Thomas P. Safford and Aleksei Leonov shook hands and exchanged gifts in celebration as a symbol of the policy of détente that the two Cold War superpowers were pursuing at the time. It also marked the end of the Space Race that began in 1957 with the Sputnik launch. During the 44-hour Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, the astronauts and cosmonauts conducted experiments, shared meals, and held a joint news conference. At the time it was thought that space would become either more international or competitive and as a result, it became both. The mission became symbolic of each country’s goals of scientific cooperation, while their individual news reports downplayed the technical prowess of the other. Stafford and Leonov, meanwhile, remained friends and Leonov is the godfather of Stafford’s younger children.
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