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Space Exploration Timeline

History of Space Travel

Event #1

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Oct. 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 atmossphere and sent information by radio signals down to the planet. It orbits every hourand-a-half before it re-entered the atmosphere and burned up 3 months after launch.

Event #2

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November 3, 1957: Sputnik 2 is launched, and everyone is stunned to see that this
spacecraft has a pilot on boarda dog named Laika (pronounced lye-ee-kuh).
The sad part was that Laika was never going to be recoveredthere was no plan for the
dog 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 when some of the life-support systems malfunctioned.

Event #3
The Americans finally get in the act, on February 1, 1958. Explorer 1 is the USAs first
launched satellite to orbit Earth. It transmitted valuable new information about the
protective magnetic field around Earth. It orbited for 12 years before crashing into the

Event #4
America strikes again with Vanguard 1, launched on March 17, 1958. Heres some
impressive news: next to the Moon, Vanguard 1 is the oldest object to orbit Earth. Yep,
its still out there! This is the first space technology to use solar panels (instead of
batteries that would run out after a few months) to power its instruments, providing a
near-neverending supply of data to scientists.
It took
rockets to
send any
of these
into orbit.

Event #5
On October 1, 1958, a famous American agency was formedNASA. NASA stands for
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA had several goalscontinue to
gather data about the Earths atmosphere and outer space, test new technologies for
launching rockets, and of coursebeat the Russians!

President Eisenhower gets a lesson on space.

Event #6

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Wow, Russia has really been winning the space race so far. This is a big blow to the
American scientistsRussia sends the first man into outer spacea guy named Yuri
Gregarin. On April 12, 1961, Vostok 1 blasts off and Yuri returns nearly 2 hours later
after completing one orbit and parachuting from a few miles off the ground. Dang!

Event #7

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America strikes back, sending its first astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space. The
mission is called Mercury Freedom 7. It lasted only 16 minutes and didnt 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. Boo.

Shepard on the navy ship that rescued

him after his ocean splashdown.

Event #8
Vostok 6 blasted off in Russia on June 16, 1963. On board was the first woman in
space, so the Russians beat us again. Her name was Valentia Tereshkova, and she
recorded data about the atmosphere for 3 days before returning safely to Earth.

Event #9
Here go the Russians again. Not happy with just going into space, on the mission
Voskhod 2, they actually let one of their cosmonauts leave the space ship! Alexei
Leonov left the spaceship (attached to it by a tether cord) and stayed out in space for
around 12 minutes. Cool. Except that his space suit inflated (due to outer space being
a vacuum) and he almost wasnt able to make it back inside the ship. Brave Alexei.

Event #10

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President Kennedy issued the challenge in 1962 that America NEEDED to go to the
moon because it would be so hard to do so. And less than a decade later, we did.
Nobody else has managed this feat. America just jumped way ahead of Russia in the
space race. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission lands on the moon, and Neil
Armstrong utters the famous words, one small step for a man, one giant leap for
mankind. USA! USA! USA!

This is awesome.

Event #11

If youve seen the movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon, you know
that its a story of American brainpower and creativity overcoming horrible odds. After
an oxygen tank explodes on the way to the Moon, the crew of Apollo 13 and NASA
scientists in Houston are forced to abandon the plan to land on the Moon and instead
just get the men home without killing them. Through days of hard work, they succeed.

NASA scientists working frantically.

The crew safe, at last.

Event #12
The next Apollo mission, Apollo 14, lands on January 31, 1971 in the exact spot that
Apollo 13 was supposed to explore. Alan Shepard leads this expedition, where millions
of viewers watched on television as the astronauts played golf and threw javelins on the
moon. Faith in NASA is restored.

Event #13
NASA scientists had envisioned a permanent space station, and in 1973, Skylab began
a 12-year experiment to see how practical the idea was. Skylab used large solar
panels to provide electricity for itself, and allowed other spacecraft to float near it and
dock. This allowed crew members to enter Skylab and leave when they needed to.
Three such dockings occurred. The Skylab experiment ended, but provided valuable
information about the realism of life in space.

A docking pod, where crew from

another space flight could enter

Event #14
July 1975 The final Apollo mission was a good one. After nearly 20 years of outdoing
each other, America and Russia agree to do a mission together. The Space Race is
pretty much done at this pointwe can be friends now. Apollo 18 and the Soviet ship
Soyuz 19 fly into space and dock with each otherallowing the American and Russian
crew members to meet in space. Cool.

Event #15

Finally, a space craft you recognize easily. On August 12, 1978, the Enterprise is the
first space shuttle to be tested. Carried on the back of a much larger plane, the
Enterprise let go and glided to a safe landing. Now NASA was confident that the
shuttles could do missions on their own and perform a rolling landing.

Event #16
It was just a matter of time (a few years later) when NASA would actually send one of
the new space shuttles into space for a real mission. In 1981, the Columbia blasted off
with the help of booster rockets, then landed on an Air Force base in California after 2
days in space.

Event #17
Yet another space shuttle, the Challenger, blasts off on April 4, 1983. Part of the 5-day
mission involved a four hour spacewalk where 2 of the crew members performed repairs
of the shuttle. Nice work, gentlemen.

80s haircuts. Cool.

Event #18
About a billion years after the Soviet Union sent Valentia Tereshkova as the first woman
in space, America finally sends its own female astronaut. Her name is Sally Ride, and
she performs numerous missions afterward and becomes a hero to many!

Event #19
August 30, 1984the space shuttle Discovery successfully carries 3 communications
satellites into space, a first for a shuttle mission. NASA keeps trying new techniques
to address old problems with great success. Americans are cocky at this point, as it
seems like NASA can achieve any goal it wants.

Whoa. 80s hair is out of control in zero gravity.

Event #20
There were 4 space shuttles in serviceDiscovery, Challenger, Columbia, Enterprise,
and Atlantis. On October 3, 1985, Atlantis joins the squad as the fifth (and final) shuttle
to be launched into space. Atlantis carries some secret defense satellites into space
(maybe to spy on our old friends, the Soviet Union?)

Event #21
Whoa. Hold the phone. Tap the brakes. What just happened? Was that supposed to
happen? On January 28, 1986, the shuttle Challenger lifted off, as planned. Kids all
over America were gathered around televisions to watch the event live as it happened,
and teachers were ready to do a space lesson right afterward. It all changed as 73
seconds later, the shuttle blew up in mid-air, killing the crew and shocking the world.

just a

Clapping and cheering here

Event #22
In 1992, a new space shuttle, Endeavour, was launched into space. It was built as a
better replacement to Challenger, which exploded 6 years prior. After its July 5 launch,
three crewmen space walked to grab a satellite that wasnt responding to commands
properly. After the longest space walk ever, the satellite was repaired and sent back
into orbit. Endeavour is scheduled to be retired in 2010 after performing one last space

Event #23
Oh no, not again. On February 1, 2003, people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area felt a thud
slam through their neighborhoods. The shuttle Columbia, returning from a long,
successful space flight, was cruising through the atmosphere preparing to land in
Florida. Days before, during the launch of the shuttle, a piece of foam damaged the
heat shield on one wing of the shuttle. It didnt become a problem until the shuttle
entered our atmosphere going around twenty times the speed of sound. The heat from
friction with the air burst through the weak wing, and debris from the shuttle flying apart
was found in several states! All 7 crew members died.

Event #24

ASA had two MAJOR incidents that shook Americas confidence in the space program.
he explosions of Challenger and Columbia slowed down how often we went into space.
ortunately, one of the big achievements that happened after the Columbia disaster was
he successful launching of the Hubble Space Telescope by the shuttle Discovery in
990.This telescope has given us incredible images of events and objects far distant in
991.the universe. Good job, Discovery.

One of the thousands of awesome images taken

by the H.S.T.

Event #25

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Another crowning achievement for modern scientists is a project worked on mainly by

five nationsa space station appropriately named the International Space Station.
Construction began in 1998 and is scheduled to be finished sometime in 2011. Shuttles
fly crew and equipment to the space station frequently, where scientists stay for weeks
at a time doing experiments in outer space. The I.S.S. is big enough to see without a
telescope if you catch it at the right time of year at night. Pretty neat that its up there.