Comics got in on the space race before the space race was a thing. DC was sending chimps into space before Sputnik, as on this Murphy Anderson cover.
Likewise Titano’s origin involved a rocket test, a radioactive meteor and a kryptonite meteor, creating the kaijin on Curt Swan’s cover.The Fantastic Four’s 1961 space flight was specifically an attempt to beat “the Reds” into space. Though Kirby’s cover understandably focused on a different moment in the story.Dreams of the moon landing had heated up by 1967. That’s when we got the movie Countdown, in which an imminent Soviet moon launch forces the US to speed things up so James Caan can be first man on the moon.Comics caught the fever too, at least in their advertising. In the summer of ’67 Aurora began offering the “American Astronaut” model (I didn’t buy one any more than I was into their other models). I’m sure plenty of kids did though.Mattel went the action figure route with the introduction of Mattel’s Man in Space, Major Matt Mason! The major showed up in ’66 but I’m only “now” seeing the ads in my Silver Age reread.Mason came with accessories of course, and it was cooler tech than the real astronauts got.And that was even before Mason joined forces with the cool alien Captain Lazer.