How far has humanity reached into the Universe? How much do we know about space today? Humans are explorers. Since before the dawn of civilization, we’ve been lured over the horizon to find food or more space. To make a profit, or just to see what’s beyond those trees or mountains or oceans. Our ability to explore reached new heights—literally—in the last hundred years. Airplanes shortened distances, simplified travel, and showed us Earth from a new perspective. By the middle of the last century, we aimed even higher.
First orbital flights
The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet uncrewed Sputnik 1 (“Satellite 1”) mission on 4 October 1957.
The satellite weighed about 83 kg (183 lb) and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km (160 mi). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40 MHz), which emitted “beeps” that could be heard by radios around the globe.
Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data were encoded in the duration of radio beeps.
Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It burned up upon re-entry on 3 January 1958. The second one was Sputnik 2. Launched by the USSR on November 3, 1957, it carried the dog Laika, who became the first animal in orbit.
First human flights
The first successful human spaceflight was Vostok 1 (“East 1”), carrying 27-year-old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961.
The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Gagarin’s flight resonated around the world; it was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: human spaceflight.
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbited Earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
China first launched a person into space 42 years after the launch of Vostok 1, on 15 October 2003, with the flight of Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 (Divine Vessel 5) spacecraft.
First planetary explorations
The first artificial object to reach another celestial body was Luna 2 in 1959.
The first automatic landing on another celestial body was performed by Luna 9 in 1966. Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon. The first crewed landing on another celestial body was performed by Apollo 11 on 20 July 1969.
“Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth within a decade” was a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong took “a giant step for mankind” as he stepped onto the moon. Six Apollo missions were made to explore the moon between 1969 and 1972.
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a large spacecraft in orbit around Earth.
It serves as a home where crews of astronauts and cosmonauts live. The space station is also a unique science laboratory. Several nations worked together to build and use the space station.
The space station is made of parts that were assembled in space by astronauts. It orbits Earth at an average altitude of 220 miles. It travels at 17,500 mph.
This means it orbits Earth every 90 minutes. NASA is using the space station to learn more about living and working in space. These lessons will make it possible to send humans farther into space than ever before
The space station has made it possible for people to have an ongoing presence in space. Human beings have been living in space every day since the first crew arrived. The space station’s laboratories allow crew members to do research that could not be done anywhere else. This scientific research benefits people on Earth. Space research is even used in everyday life.
NASA currently is working on a plan to explore other worlds. The space station is one of the first steps. NASA will use lessons learned on the space station to prepare for human missions that reach farther into space than ever before.
What’s the point?
Close your eyes for a second and just think about this. Forget all bad things that humankind has experienced, for a moment. Forget everything bad and just think about it. We really managed to do something. Look how far we can go if we work together. Look how far we discovered. People have so much to do on this planet. We have so much to offer. The human mind is equally big as this universe is. So much opportunity and we are just getting started.
I am so proud to live in this era. Spread the love. This world has a lot to offer. It’s not over yet.