Man has always looked at the sky and wondered, what lays beyond the tips of our fingertips? The stars, comets and other celestial objects orbit our world and fly throughout the universe. We have made extraordinary leaps in our technology and space program, that because of this, we are able to know more about our surroundings and our known universe. From the beginning of WW11, many other countries have challenged each other in the race to space, to see who was more capable to discover the unknown regions of space. From ballistic missiles to satellites, there has been many attempts to be the first to space, and the first to make history.
Space exploration, is the discovery of other planets and objects in out universe, in which allows us to advance our technology so we can discover many new objects throughout space (Aerospace). There is also a more, physical part, of space exploration that has only been used in this modern age. The physical part of space exploration is mainly done by robots, such as rovers and satellites, while the other part is done by humans, which are sent into space. That is also known as space flight (Aerospace). But what we want to know, is how we came to know the technology and advancements that has shaped our world’s space programmes, which started in 1939.
WW2 erupted all throughout Europe. The Axis Powers and The Allies fought each other violently. But with all the chaos and mayhem around them, German scientists were on the verge of a great discovery, ballistic missiles. When the first ballistic missiles were developed by Germany, it set new stones for future launch vehicles that would continue the space race that involved the United States and the Soviet Union (Aerospace). Once WW2 was over, the Russians’ decided to continue on the creation of the missiles, and they add a few things to it. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union started off the space race with the launch of the first artificial satellite, the Sputnik 1 (Aerospace). The United States weren’t that far behind the Soviets. On January 31, 1958, the very first US satellite, which was known as the Explorer, was launched into orbit. Marking the very first vehicle sent into space by the United States. We wanted more, we wanted to see more of what was out there. On February 20, 1962, Alan Shepard made history as he was sent into the Earth’s orbit, as the very first american delivered into space (Aerospace).
With getting to the moon a high priority for Nasa and for the United States, they were on the verge to taking the final steps to completing that dream . President John F. Kennedy pronounced an idea of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. His speech, which was given to us on May 25, 1961, was set right before a joint session of congress to put his idea to work. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon, and returning him safely to Earth” (John F. Kennedy, 1961). With the United States on their way to make Kennedy’s dream become reality, they had to push toward their goal. In sending a man to the moon and back in the end of the decade.
NASA believed that they were finally ready to send man to space. January 27, 1967, at 1:00 p.m., astronauts Edward White, Virgil Grissom, and Roger Chaffee boarded the Apollo 1 for a pre-flight test. A flash fire erupted in the cockpit and it spread. In a matter of seconds, all three crew members perished in the fire. The Apollo program was to be put on hold until they investigated what caused this horrific incident. Once they found out what the problem was, they began to redesign the shuttles so that kind of accident wouldn’t happen once more. July 16, 1969, was a day to remember, as Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin entered the Apollo 11. With this launch, came the unforgettable history in the making, as Neil Armstrong made the first even footsteps on the moon. “ This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong). This is a well known quote, which describes an extraordinary moment that has occured in the human race.
On May 14, 1973, the United States successfully launched their first space station, known as the Skylab (NASA Archives). The Skylab Space Station was only functional for about 24 weeks until it came crashing down into Earth’s orbit. On July 11, 1979, the Space Station came crashing down to earth’s atmosphere at a shocking rate of speed. Engineers had the idea of boosting the rocket boosters so that the debris would miss human populated lands. They were close. Most of the debris landed in the Indian Ocean, while some landed in populated areas of west Australia, fortunately there was no one injured.
The US and the Soviet Union came to an agreement on a Space Project which is known as the Apollo-Soyuz project (NASA Archives). The project was tested on July 17, 1775, which was the docking of both the US and the USSR of their spacecrafts. This was a successful joining and it was a symbol of the policy of strained relations between the two superpowers that they were having at the time, which was the Cold War.
Another unforgettable event occured on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle known as the Challenger exploded only seconds after launch. The space craft broke apart only 72 seconds after the launch, which caused an explosion that rocketed the nation. All 7 crew members perished in the explosion and President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation after the disaster. “For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, ‘Give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy.’ They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us” ( President Ronald Reagan, 1986).
Nasa’s Apollo programme still continues to thrive, by sending over 12 astronauts to walk on the moon, in over 6 lunar landing missions. NASA was even able to send over 300 astronauts into space, and had over 135 successful missions. This shows that NASA has grown exponentially. Space Exploration has developed our nation, into understanding our world, and the worlds around us. Because of this, I would say that uncovering the mysteries of the unknown universe, is really a turning point in OUR history, the American history.
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