History of Space ExplorationFeb 7, 1984: First Untethered Spacewalk
Event #1Oct. 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches a satellite into space named Sputnik 1.It was a very simple device that took measurements of the upper layer of the atmos-sphere and sent information by radio signals down to the planet. It orbits every hour-and-a-half before it re-entered the atmosphere and burned up 3 months after launch.
Event #2November 3, 1957: Sputnik 2 is launched, and has a “pilot” on board—a dog namedLaika (pronounced lye-ee-kuh).The sad part was that Laika was never recovered—there was no plan for thedog to ever land safely on Earth. It was thought to be able to live 10 days in space,but may not have lasted an hour because some of the life-support systemsmalfunctioned.
Event #3February 1, 1958: Explorer 1 is the USA’s first launched satellite to orbit Earth.It transmitted valuable new information about the protective magnetic field aroundEarth. It orbited for 12 years before crashing into the Ocean.
Event #4March 17, 1958: Vanguard 1 is launched by America and is the first spacetechnology to use solar panels.Here’s some impressive news: next to the Moon, Vanguard 1 is the oldest object toorbit Earth. Yep, it’s still out there! Because it’s solar power doesn’t run out, itprovides a near-never-ending supply of data to scientists. It took large, powerful rockets to send any of these objects into orbit.
Event #5October 1, 1958: NASA was formed. NASA stands for National Aeronautics andSpace Administration.NASA had several goals—continue to gather data about the Earth’s atmosphereand outer space, test new technologies for launching rockets, and of course—beatthe Russians! President Eisenhower gets a lesson on space.
Event #6April 12, 1961: Russia sends the first man into outer space…a guy named YuriGregarin.Wow, Russia has really been winning the “space race” so far. This is a big blow tothe American scientists. Vostok 1 blasts off and Yuri returns nearly 2 hours laterafter completing one orbit.
Event #7 May 5, 1961: America sends its first astronaut into space, Alan Shepard. The mission is called Mercury Freedom 7. It lasted only 16 minutes and didn’t actually go in complete orbit around Earth. Shepard was still hailed as a hero, and he later became the 5th person to walk on the moon. It stung American scientists, though, that they lost the race to send a person into space by less than one month.Shepard on the navy ship that rescuedhim after his ocean splashdown.
Event #8September 12, 1962: President Kennedy gave a historic speech at RiceUniversity that America would go to the moon before the end of the decade.Kennedy stated, “We explore space not because it is easy but because it isdifficult.”
Event #9June 16, 1963 : The first woman in space, Valentia Tereshkova, blasted off inRussia on the Vostok 6 .She recorded data about the atmosphere for 3 days before returning safely toEarth.
Event #10March 18 1965: Russia let one of their cosmonauts be the first to complete aSpacewalk, leaving the space ship for 12 minutes!They realized future missions would require working outside their spaceships.Alexei Leonov left the spaceship, Voskhod 2, attached to it by a tether cord. Cool.Except that his space suit inflated (due to outer space being a vacuum) and healmost wasn’t able to make it back inside the ship.
Event #11July 20, 1969: The United States’ Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land onthe Moon.Nobody else has managed this feat. America just jumped way ahead of Russia in thespace race. Neil Armstrong utters the famous words, “one small step for a man, onegiant leap for mankind.”
Event #12April 17, 1970: Apollo 13 crew lands safely in the Pacific Ocean after an oxygen tankon board blows up on the way to the moon.If you’ve seen the movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon, you knowthat it’s a story of American brainpower and creativity overcoming horrible odds. NASAscientists in Houston worked tirelessly to bring the crew home safely. Through days ofhard work, they succeeded. NASA scientists working frantically. The crew safe, at last.
Event #13January 31, 1971: Faith in NASA is restored when Apollo 14 lands on the moon.Apollo 14 landed in the exact spot that Apollo 13 was supposed to explore. AlanShepard leads this expedition, where millions of viewers watched on television as theastronauts played golf and threw javelins on the moon.
Event #14July 26, 1971: The first manned Lunar Roving Vehicle is used by astronauts ofApollo 15. It allows astronauts to travel much further from the landing site onthe moon. Lunar Rover was a four wheel drive vehicle that can carry 2 astronauts andsupplies and was specially designed to drive on the lunar surface. A LunarRover (left behind each time) was also used on the Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 missions.
Event #15May 14, 1973: Skylab, America’s First Space Station, was launched into space.Skylab used large solar panels to provide electricity for itself, and allowed otherspacecraft to float near it and “dock.” This allowed crew members to enter Skylaband leave when they needed to. Three such dockings occurred. The Skylabexperiment ended, but provided valuable information about the realism of life in spaceand the effects of microgravity. A docking pod, where crew from another space flight could enter Skylab.
Event #16July 15, 1975: Apollo–Soyuz Test Project is the first International mission as a jointmission between America and Russia.The Space Race is pretty much done at this point. The Apollo and the Soviet shipfly into space and dock with each other allowing the American and Russian crewmembers to meet in space. Cool.
Event #July 20, 1976: First U.S. Mars Landing by Viking 1.The Voyager 1 consisted of an orbiter and a lander which traveled attached fornearly a year to reach Mars orbit. The orbiters sent back pictures which were usedto select a landing sight. The lander then separated from the orbit and soft landed. First photograph ever taken from Mars surface
Event #17August 12, 1977: Enterprise, the first space shuttle and first reusable spacecraft issuccessfully tested.Carried on the back of a much larger plane, the Enterprise “let go” and glided to a safelanding. Now NASA was confident that the shuttles could do missions on their ownand perform a rolling landing.
Event #18April 12, 1981: Columbia is the first space shuttle orbiter blasted off into spaceThe Columbia blasted off with the help of booster rockets, then landed on an AirForce base in California after 2 days in space.
Event #19June 18, 1983: Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on theChallenger space shuttle.In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science to motivate girls and young womento pursue careers in science, math, and technology !
Event #20January 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger ended in tragedy 73 seconds intoflight when it exploded and killed the entire crew.The mission was highly publicized because it was the first time a school teacherwas allowed to travel in space, Christa McAuliffe. Analysis showed that a seal,called an O-ring, on the shuttle’s rocket booster failed at liftoff because of coldtemperatures.
Event #21April 25, 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope was launched by the shuttleDiscovery.More than a single telescope, Hubble is an orbiting collection of instrumentsdesigned to view the universe free from interference from the Earthsatmosphere. This telescope has given us incredible images of events andobjects far distant in the universe. It is still in orbit in space today!
Event #22July 5, 1992: A new space shuttle, Endeavour, was launched into space. It was builtas a better replacement to Challenger and the last space shuttle built!.Three crewmen space walked to grab a satellite that wasn’t responding tocommands properly. After the longest space walk ever, the satellite was repairedand sent back into orbit mission. Endeavour was named through a nationalcompetition involving students in elementary and middle schools.
Event #25 Required for your project!November 20, 1998: First International Space Station Module LaunchedAnother crowning achievement for modern scientists is a project worked on mainly byfive nations—a space station appropriately named the International Space Station.Construction began in 1998 and is scheduled to be finished sometime in 2011. Shuttlesfly crew and equipment to the space station frequently, where scientists stay for weeksat a time doing experiments in outer space. The I.S.S. is big enough to see without atelescope if you catch it at the right time of year at night. Pretty neat that it’s up there.
Event #23February 1, 2003: The shuttle Columbia tragically broke apart during re-entry to theEarth’s atmosphere. Sadly, all crew members were lost.Returning from a long, successful space flight, was cruising through the atmospherepreparing to land in Florida. Days before, during the launch of the shuttle, a piece offoam damaged the heat shield on one wing of the shuttle. It didn’t become a problemuntil the shuttle entered our atmosphere going around twenty times the speed ofsound. The heat from friction with the air burst through the weak wing, and debrisfrom the shuttle flying apart was found in several states, including in the DFW area!
Event #24July 8, 2011: Space shuttle Atlantis is the final launch for NASA’s space shuttleprogramThe space shuttle program operated for 3 decades and more than 130 flights.What will be the future of space exploration?