Space exploration started with Russia’s “Sputnik”, and America’s “Explorer”. The man reached the moon in 1969 to walk on 1 ka soil. Then followed the space stations called the “Skylab” and the “Salyut”. A man walked space without the tethers to retrieve and repair lost satellites.
Space travel has opened up a whole range of dimensions in men. study of the Universe. Now, astronomers can take photographs in the close-up of the moon and the planets which could only be seen dimly twenty years ago, through the dense blanket of the earth’s atmosphere. Even though. observatories have been established on mountains,’ astronomers on earth are still hampered by the effect of the atmosphere that remains above the mountains.
The clearest view of the sky can only be got by actually going into space. There, radiations can be detected such as X-rays and ultra-violet light, that the highest levels of atmosphere block.
The space age took shape on October 4, 1957, with Russia’s launching of the Sputnik I into orbit, followed a month later by Sputnik 2 which carried the dog, Laika. Measurements of the animal’s heartbeats, temperature, and all other reactions were radioed to earth, which suggested that human beings could also survive long periods in space.
On January 31, 1958, the first US satellite, Explorer 1 made the first major discovery of the space age, the Van Allen radiation belts around the earth, where electrons and protons from the sun are trapped by the earth’s magnetic field. This followed probes sent to explore the moon and other planets, detecting solar wind on the way, of subatomic particles streaming from the sun.
It was Russia’s Luna 3 that actually gave mankind the first look t the moon’s far side. In 1965, Mariner 4 sent back-to-earth pictures revealing craters on Mars.
The work of the initial space probes has been improved by later planetary explorers, resting in man landing on the moon and be landing on Venus and Mars in search of any possible life there.
Probes are now moving closer to the sun to study solar activity while others are moving towards Jupiter and the planets beyond. Plans are being made to explore the comets.
On April 12, 1961, the first man to be launched into space was Russia’s Yuri Gagarin who orbited the earth once. Later Russian cosmonauts, including the first spacewoman, Valentina Tereshkova, stayed in orbit for up to five days. .0n April 12, 1981, the first space shuttle ‘Columbia’ reached orbit, and again on October 9, 1990, U.S. space shuttle Discovery again launched the scientific spacecraft, Ulysses, to probe the polar regions of the sun.