A Space Station


From our small world we have gazed upon the cosmic ocean for untold thousands of years. Ancient astronomers observed points of light that appeared to move among the stars. They called these objects planets, meaning wanderers, and named them after Roman deities —Jupiter, king of the gods; Mars, the god of war; Mercury, messenger of the gods; Venus, the god of love and beauty, and Saturn, father of Jupiter and god of agriculture. The stargazers also observed comets with sparkling tails, and meteors or shooting stars apparently falling from the sky.

Science flourished during the European Renaissance. Fundamental physical laws governing planetary motion were discovered, and the orbits of the planets around the Sun were calculated. In the 17th century, astronomers pointed a new device called the telescope at the heavens and made startling discoveries.

But the years since 1959 have amounted to a golden age of solar system exploration. Advancements in rocketry after World War II enabled our machines to break the grip of Earth’s gravity and travel to the Moon and to other planets.

The United States has sent automated spacecraft, then human-crewed expeditions, to explore the Moon. Our automated machines have orbited and landed on Venus and Mars, explored the Sun’s environment, observed comets, and asteroids, and made close-range surveys while flying past Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

These travelers brought a quantum leap in our knowledge and understanding of the solar system. Through the electronic sight and other “senses” of our automated spacecraft, color and complexion have been given to worlds that for centuries appeared to Earth-bound eyes as fuzzy disks or indistinct points of light. And dozens of previously unknown objects have been discovered.

Future historians will likely view these pioneering flights through the solar system as some of the most remarkable achievements of the 20th century.

The Beginning of Space Exploration

For centuries, scientists had been looking at the prospects of traveling into outer space. In the 1940s, experimental rocket launches into outer space were carried out time after time, but none could reach the desired altitudes. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent the first unmanned mission into space. They launched a satellite called Sputnik 1, which successfully remained in outer space for 3 months. On November 3, 1957, they subsequently launched another satellite known as the Sputnik 2, which carried a dog into orbit for 7 days. The Americans were envious of the success of the Russians, and the fact that there was a cold war between the two countries did not make things better. This led to the beginning of the “space race”.

The Space Race

The space race brought about a massive revolution in space exploration as each country tried to out-pace the other in the advancement of outer space technology and achievements. After the Soviet Union launched two successive satellites, the Americans were not to be outdone, and they launched their first successful satellite Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. They followed this with the launch of Explorer 2 on March 5, 1958, which failed to reach orbit.

English: A replica of Sputnik 1, the first art...

English: A replica of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in the world to be put into outer space: the replica is stored in the National Air and Space Museum. فارسی: مدل ماهواره اسپوتنیک-۱، نخستین ماهواره فضایی جهان Suomi: Sputnik 1:n

Man in Space

Space scientists were always looking for the possibility of sending human beings into outer space. After experimenting with animals, it was time for the first manned space mission. The first successful manned space mission was launched by Russia on April 12, 1961, carrying a young man known as Yuri Gagarin. The spacecraft was Vostok 1, and it orbited around the earth in 1 hour 48 minutes. One month later, the United States launched their first manned space mission with astronaut Alan Shepard, who managed to complete a suborbital flight. John Glen achieved his first orbital flight on February 20, 1962.

Flag of the United States on American astronau...

American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s in space suit

Neil Armstrong

With advancement in technology, it became easier and safer to launch manned missions. This led to an attempt to land on the moon, and it was achieved when Neil Armstrong and his crew in the Apollo 11 made a safe landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong proceeded to make the first moon walk. This great achievement catapulted America’s reputation in the space race.

Space Tragedy

Not all space missions have been successful though. There were several tragedies involving space missions, and some of them had fatal results. On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1, which was also known as Apollo/Saturn 204, caught fire during its simulation launch, killing all crew members. Russia’s attempt to land on the moon ended in tragedy too when the Soyuz 1 encountered technical problems soon after its launch. The sole crew member perished as he could not repair the fault.

The Future of Space Exploration

Modern space exploration is reaching ares once only dreamed of. Mars is a main focal point of modern space exploration and a manned mars exploration is a long term goal of the United States. In addition, the concept of space tourism has opened up an opportunity for wealthy individuals to travel into outer space for leisure. The idea has yet to take off but construction of “spaceports” has begun in areas around the world

Soviet Union 1963-stamp Bykovski

Soviet Union 1963-stamp Bykovski

English: Stamp of the Soviet Union, Yuri Gagar...

Stamp Soviet Union, Yuri Gagarin first man in space.




The V2 Rocket, first to reach space. In 1942 the German V2 was the first rocket to reach 100km from the Earth’s surface (the boundary of space).

The rocket was designed by Wernher Von Braun, who later worked with NASA as the creator of the rockets that went to the moon.

Fruit flies in space! In 1947, the first animals were launched into space. Fruit flies were used to study the effects of space travel on animals, and were chosen because they are more similar to humans than you might imagine!

The flies travelled with a supply of corn to eat on the flight.

Albert II first monkey in space Albert II, was the first monkey in space. He was a Rhesus monkey, a type of monkey that originally comes from Asia.

Albert went into space on 14th June, 1949 in a specially adapted American V2 rocket, that flew to a height of 83 miles from earth.

Russian Sputnik satellite On 4th October 1957, Russia launched the first satellite into space; Sputnik 1, and the space age had properly begun!

Sputnik was the first satellite in orbit around the earth. Today there are over 500 working satellites in space. Sputnik means “Satellite” in Russian.

Laika, the first space dog to orbit the earth In November 1957, the Russian space dog Laika became the first animal to orbit the earth.

Laika travelled in a spacecraft known as Sputnik 2. Laika means “Barker” in Russian, and her mission helped scientists understand whether people could survive in space.

Luna 2 first space probe to land on the moon By 1959 Both American and Russian scientists were in a race to get a spacecraft to the Moon; the Russians made it first.

Space-probe Luna 2 crash-landed into the moon at a speed that would kill an astronaut if one had been travelling in it! It was ten more years until a human visited the moon’s surface.

Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. On 12th April 1961, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Gagarin’s spacecraft, Vostok 1, completed one orbit of the earth, and landed about two hours after launch.

Gagarin had to bail out and land using his parachute, because the Vostok 1 was designed to crash land!

 Valentina Tereshkova First woman in space and Russian cosmonaut The first woman in space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

After her 1963 mission, Valentina became an important member of the Russian Government, and has been awarded many honours and prizes for her achievements. A crater on the far side of the Moon is named after her!

Space probe Surveyor 1, first US soft moon-landing In 1963 US President John F. Kennedy promised the world that the US would land men on the moon before 1970. Before risking people’s lives, NASA sent a robot spaceship, to make sure they could land safely.

It was called Surveyor 1, and it made the second soft landing on the Moon on 30th May 1966, a few months after Russian probe Luna 9 landed successfully.

first images from surface of the moon. Once it had landed on the moon, the robotic spaceship Surveyor 1 started taking photographs of the moon’s surface, which it transmitted back to excited scientists in America and around the world.

The scientists used this vital information about the terrain to work out how they might land people on the moon safely.

Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon On 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong, and then Buzz Aldrin took “one small step” and became the first men on the moon. The first words said on the moon were “the Eagle has landed”. Their spaceship, Apollo 11 worked perfectly, flying them 250,000 miles to the moon, and bringing them all the way back safely to earth. Buzz was a childhood nickname – his real name was Edwin! 1969
Apollo 13 Two days into its journey to the moon, on 13th April 1970, Apollo 13 suffered an explosion caused by a wiring fault. Using only whatever was on board, NASA scientists and the astronauts on board improvised repairs to bring the crippled spaceship home.

The mission was a successful failure: although the crew never walked on the moon at least they made it home alive!

Lunar rover, moon car From 1971 American astronauts on the fourth, fifth and sixth Apollo missions enjoyed use of a moon car to explore the moon. Known as the Lunar Rover, it was electric powered, and had a top speed of 8mph.

It was designed and developed in only 17 months, by Boeing, the aeroplane company famous for making the Jumbo Jet. Find out more here.

Mars 2, first space probe to impact with Mars In 1973, Russian space probe Mars 2 explored Mars, the fourth planet of the solar system.

The probe was made of two parts. One part stayed in orbit for a year, sending pictures of Mars back to earth. The other was to land and explore the surface of Mars, but it was destroyed when its parachute failed to open.

The Space Shuttle Until 12th April 1981 all spacecraft were designed to be used only once. The Space Shuttle, was designed to be reused for up to 100 visits to space, in an attempt to make space travel less expensive.

With five hugely powerful rocket motors, it can fly at more than 17,000 miles per hour. Six have been built.

Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy On January 28th 1986, tragedy struck. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch, because of a fuel system failure. All seven astronauts on board were killed, and all shuttles were grounded for nearly three years.

This shocking accident reminded the world of the dangers of space travel, and the incredible bravery of all astronauts.

MIR Soviet space station The MIR space station was built in sections, each piece launched by a rocket and then joined together in orbit. Construction started in 1986, with the last piece being fitted ten years later!

MIR was the first consistently inhabited long-term space station. MIR was destroyed in 2001 when it burned up as it crashed back to earth.

Helen Sharman, first British Astronaut In 1989, Helen Sharman entered a competition to become the first British astronaut in space. After 18 months of intensive training, Helen was part of a Russian mission to the MIR space station.

She spent eight days in space conducting scientific experiments. She used to work for the sweet company that makes Mars bars!

The International Space Station (ISS) In 2000 the first permanent crew moved into the International Space Station (ISS), where crews of astronauts have been living ever since.

The ISS is a huge space station for research and space exploration that began construction in 1986 and will not be finished until 2010.

First space tourist – Dennis Tito On the 28th April 2001 American millionaire Dennis Tito became the first space tourist when he paid around 20 million dollars for a ride in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Dennis spent a week in orbit, most of the time visiting the International Space Station. He had to train for 900 hours just to be a passenger!

Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne On June 21st, 2004, SpaceShipOne made the first ever privately funded manned space flight. This space plane was built by a private aviation firm to win the 10 million dollar Ansari X Prize.

A new Airline, Virgin Galactic has been set up to offer private tourist flights into space, using a new version of this space plane. Tickets are available for flights, starting around 2012.

The future of space exploration In January 2004, US President George Bush announced that NASA would resume missions to the moon by 2020, and work on a permanent moon-base would begin. Next will be a manned mission to visit Mars, that could last for 2 years.

A Shanepedia Compilation



Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data

Creative Commons Copyright© Shanepedia 2012


One response »

  1. Dipak says:

    Great compilation


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