The History Of Space Exploration

Are you curious about the history of space exploration?

Maybe you want to know more about the space race between the US and Russia but don’t know where to start?

The History Of Space Exploration

Or perhaps you just want to boost your space knowledge? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how tricky it can be to find things out about space exploration.

There is so much information out there, it can seem impossible to navigate and get the facts that you want.

You find yourself easily overwhelmed and unsure where to turn. 

Well, no more! Today we are here with the answers that you need.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the history of space exploration. 

A Brief Outline Of Space History

Let’s travel back in time to look at space history in some detail. Rockets were first used during WWII.

Ballistic missiles were later created and the space race began. Cooperation between the US and USSR led to the ISS.

Rockets became more powerful, and humans could go beyond Earth’s orbit.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, rockets were developed to be used as weapons.

The U.S. and the USSR had their rocket programs as part of the space race.

On October 4th, 1957, the United States was the first country to launch an artificial satellite into outer space. 

This was followed by many countries such as Russia, Japan, France, Germany, China, India, and Brazil.

On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin was man’s first orbital flight around the earth. The first-ever U.S. spacecraft was launched on 31st Jan 1959.

Then, an American astronaut flew into space on 20th Feb 1962. In addition, NASA launched a probe to Jupiter in 1979.

The probe found evidence of water under the surface of Jupiter. Many other planets were also discovered.

Pluto is now considered part of our solar system, along with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, and several moons. 

They are the eight known planets of the sun that lie outside the orbit of Earth. Some scientists think there might be more. 

Moon Landing And Initial Explorations

On 20th July 1969, the astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the surface of the moon.

Six more Apollo missions were developed to examine the moon’s surface between the years 1969 and 1972.

Throughout the 1960s, spacecraft were sent to photograph and probe the lunar surface before astronauts ever even walked on the moon.

By the 1970s, communication and navigation satellites in space were in daily use, and a spacecraft was busy mapping the geography of Mars.

By the late 1970s, another spacecraft had taken amazing images of Saturn and Jupiter including the planetary rings and moons.

America’s first Space Station, called Skylab, was a revolutionary space invention during the 1970s.

The world’s first international crewed (Soviet and American) space mission.

Satellites were also able to support television programs. People could pick up the satellite signals from their home antennas. 

Satellites later discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, located dangerous forest fires, and provided us with photographs of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the year of 1986.

Scientific satellites discovered new stars and provided us with a new view of the Galaxy center.

Spacecraft Disasters

The History Of Space Exploration

In 1986, the spacecraft Challenger was destroyed while launching and the crew was killed.

The Columbia disaster was another spacecraft tragedy. On 1st Feb 2003, the Columbia broke up during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing the 7 crew members.

The Columbia disaster happened over Texas, and just moments before it was about to touch down at the Kennedy Space Center.

It was realized that the catastrophe was due to some insulative foam breaking off the shuttle’s propellants tank and damaging the left wing.

The Columbia disaster marked the second loss of a spacecraft in 113 space flights.

Following these disasters, space operations were stopped until after the investigations had been completed which took over 2 years.

The Discovery shuttle was the first one from the Space Shuttle Program to retire; it completed its last mission on 11th March 2011.

The Endeavour shuttle retired six months later on 12th September 2011.

The last flight was completed by Atlantis on July 20, 2011, then The Space Shuttle Program closed after thirty years of service.

Space Technology Purposes

The Gulf War showed that satellite technology had great value in modern wars.

The military could use satellites to gain an edge over their opponents. This allowed them to quickly end the war, saving many thousands of lives.

Space systems are still used for many different purposes. Homeland security uses satellites to monitor the country.

Weather satellites help predict storms and hurricanes. Communication satellites are used for phone calls and Internet access.

Navigational satellites help guide ships and planes. Remote sensing satellites collect information about chemical spills and fires.

The ISS (International Space Station)

The History Of Space Exploration

The ISS is a space research lab in low-Earth orbit. It was built by NASA, Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada.

There were several international partners involved in building the space station.

The ISS is maintained by various visiting spacecraft including the Russian Soyuz and the US Dragon capsule.

The ISS has been continuously occupied since it was first launched in 1998.

The station is a base for astronauts and space visitors from over 16 countries.

Space launches have been made to reduce costs and improve reliability, safety, and dependability.

The majority of military and astronomical satellites are now launched into space by a variety of expendable launching vehicles.

Other countries have developed their launch systems, and there’s significant competition in the space systems market to create the best launch systems.

Space Exploration In The Future

Exploration Mission-1 plans to send Orion thousands of miles past the moon on a three-week-long space mission.

Future space explorations endeavor to take humans further into space than ever before. 

NASA is looking to send humans to Mars by 2030, and in the meantime, they’re conducting deep studies into the Red Planet. 

What’s Happening Right Now?

Most people agree that this is a very exciting and busy time to work in the space industry.

Private companies are developing spacecraft for NASA missions. A robotic helicopter is currently exploring Mars.

NASA’s Artemis program is aiming to land humans on the moon by 2024.

The moon will become a base camp for future human space exploration missions.

Lunar Ice could be used to make rocket fuel and drinking water. This would help us go back to the Moon and stay there for longer.

Autonomous systems are being built by many different groups within NASA.

These include software engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, etc.

Aerospace students are usually hired by NASA or SpaceX. Many students work on designing and building spacecraft.

Many students work on projects that involve space exploration. Astrobiologists are searching for life beyond Earth. 

NASA is pushing the boundaries of science by sending robotic spacecraft to Mars and Jupiter.

Scientists are looking for signs of life in outer space. This research helps us understand how life began on Earth. 

Going to the moon and Mars allows for amazing science to be explored.

We’ll be able to learn about the history of our Solar System, understand what’s happening on our planets, and create better worlds for us here on earth.

Final Thoughts 

It’s great to see so much attention paid towards space exploration.

From engineering tools such as rockets and telescopes to communications satellites and even art installations. 

Everything we do in space is critical.

As humans explore farther into our solar system we must develop better ways to live sustainably in space, so that we can spend longer exploring its many mysteries.

Gordon Watts