Key dates in the space race from the 11th century to 1975

The Area Race actually started to take flight when the Chilly Conflict heated up between the USA and the previous Soviet Union within the late Fifties. The Soviets had managed to launch the primary functioning satellite tv for pc, Sputnik 1, into house again on October 4, 1957 (nearly six months earlier than the U.S. launched their first satellite tv for pc, Vanguard 1). Nevertheless it wasn’t till April 12, 1961, that the Soviets despatched the primary human, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit round our residence planet.

Now, some 60 years later, humanity is on the precipice of an astronautical renaissance. A burgeoning non-public spaceflight trade is on tempo to begin sending vacationers into house as quickly as early 2021. Actor Tom Cruise is slated to enterprise to the Worldwide Area Station in October 2021. And by 2024, NASA’s Artemis program goals to ship the primary batch of astronauts again to the Moon in additional than 50 years.

It’s an electrifying time. And issues are solely going to get extra thrilling within the years to return. So, earlier than the proliferation of crewed spaceflight actually takes off, let’s first look again on the historical past of the Area Race, which helped us attain this level.

The Area Race is usually thought-about to have lasted from about 1957 to 1975, however the historical past of spaceflight started lengthy earlier than that.

The space-race timeline

eleventh century: Utilizing a mix of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter), the Chinese language create the primary gasoline that may propel early rockets. After all, these rockets are utilized in battle.

March 16, 1926: American engineer, physicists, and inventor Robert Goddard — the namesake of NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart — efficiently launches the primary liquid-fueled rocket. This earns him the title of “Father of Trendy Rocketry.”

July 17, 1929: Goddard launches the primary rocket outfitted with scientific devices from Auburn, Massachusetts. The modest rocket carries each a barometer and a digital camera.

Oct. 3, 1942: German rocket scientists Wernher von Braun efficiently launches the primary ballistic missile, the V-2 rocket, which he performed an instrumental function in growing for Germany throughout World Conflict II.

Sep. 29, 1945: Shortly after World Conflict II ends, von Braun arrives at Fort Bliss, Texas, together with six different German rocket scientists. He spends the following 15 years working with the U.S. Military on ballistic missile know-how.

Oct. 14, 1947: Piloting a Bell X-1 rocket airplane often known as the Glamorous Glennis, American check pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier for the primary time above Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California.

Oct. 4, 1957: The Soviet Union secretly fires Sputnik 1 into house, making it the world’s first synthetic satellite tv for pc. The beach-ball sized, 190-pound orb circles the globe at 18,000 miles per hour, orbiting Earth as soon as each 100 minutes for 21 days. The Area Race between the USA and the Soviets formally begins.

Nov. 3, 1957: The Soviets ship the primary dwelling creature — Laika the canine — into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. (In 2008, Russian officers unveiled a monument to Laika, who, earlier than her spaceflight, was a stray wandering the streets of Moscow.)

Laika the dog was the first living creature sent into space.
Laika the canine was the primary dwelling creature despatched into house. Credit score: Pretenderrs/Wikipedia

Jan 31, 1958: The USA makes use of a modified V-2 rocket to launch the first American satellite tv for pc, Explorer 1. The satellite tv for pc transmits knowledge for about 4 months earlier than its batteries die. It continues to circle Earth for 58,000 extra orbits, ultimately burning up upon re-entry into the environment on March 31, 1970. 

Oct. 1, 1958: The Nationwide Aeronautics and Area Administration (NASA) is established by the U.S. Federal Authorities.

Oct. 7, 1958: Simply days after NASA is based, Administrator T. Keith Glennan declares the company’s manned spaceflight program: Undertaking Mercury.

Could 28, 1959: The USA launches the first primates into house, Ready and Baker, on a suborbital flight. Dozens extra “astrochimps” had been educated by NASA throughout Undertaking Mercury.

This is Ham in 1961. He was an "astrochimp" trained by NASA. Credit: NASA
That is Ham in 1961. He was an “astrochimp” educated by NASA. Credit score: NASA

April 12, 1961: Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union turns into the primary man in house, finishing a single, 108-minute orbit aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.

Could 5, 1961: Alan Shepard of the USA blasts off aboard a Redstone rocket to grow to be the primary American in house throughout a 15-minute suborbital flight.

Could 25, 1961: U.S. President John F. Kennedy makes his well-known speech about touchdown Individuals on the Moon to Congress, asserting:

“First, I imagine that this nation ought to commit itself to reaching the aim, earlier than this decade is out, of touchdown a person on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single house challenge on this interval shall be extra spectacular to mankind, or extra vital for the long-range exploration of house; and none shall be so tough or costly to perform.”

Feb. 20, 1962: John Glenn turns into the primary American to orbit Earth aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft as a part of the Mercury 6 mission. (Years later, in 1998, Glenn turns into the oldest individual to fly in house as a part of the STS-95 crew on Area Shuttle Discovery.)

June 16, 1963: Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union turns into the primary girl to orbit Earth, spending practically three days circling the planet some 48 occasions aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft.

Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov trains for the Apollo-Soyuz mission in April 1975. Credit: NASA
Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov trains for the Apollo-Soyuz mission in April 1975. Credit score: NASA

March 18, 1965: Alexei Leonov, a Soviet cosmonaut, efficiently makes the primary spacewalk whereas tethered to the Voskhod 2 orbiter.

March 23, 1965: Gus Grissom, an American astronaut, flies aboard the primary crewed Gemini mission, Gemini 3, changing into the primary man to enterprise to house twice.

June 3, 1965: Ed White turns into the primary American to efficiently take a spacewalk.

April 3, 1966: The Soviet Union’s Luna 10 spacecraft enters lunar orbit, making it the primary spacecraft to efficiently orbit the Moon.

June 2, 1966: The U.S. achieves the primary delicate touchdown on the Moon with the robotic lunar lander, Surveyor 1.

Jan. 27, 1967: Disaster strikes. {An electrical} fireplace breaks out contained in the Apollo 1 capsule, which is full of pure oxygen, throughout a countdown rehearsal. NASA astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee strive in useless to open the locked door. All three perish.

April 23, 1967: Vladimir Komarov turns into the first individual to die throughout spaceflight when his problem-plagued Soyuz 1 craft crashed into Earth following stability points and a failed parachute deployment. (Komarov reportedly suspected the mission was doomed earlier than taking off, however refused to again out as a result of his shut pal, Yuri Gagarin, was his alternative. Komarov couldn’t bear to see Gagarin killed, even when it price his personal life.)

Sept. 18, 1968: The Soviet Union’s Zond 5 spacecraft circled the Moon carrying the first dwelling creatures to orbit one other world: worms, flies, and two Russian steppe tortoises.

Oct. 11, 1968: The primary reside views of astronauts in house are broadcast on tv in the course of the first crewed Apollo mission, Apollo 7. (Astronauts Don Eisele, Wally Schirra, and Walter Cunningham are credited as being the first crew to hold out a mini-mutiny in house.)

Dec. 21, 1968: Apollo 8 launches aboard a Saturn V rocket earlier than ferrying three American astronauts — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Invoice Anders — to the Moon. The crew turns into the first people to circle the Moon.

President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, the recovery ship for the mission, where they are quarantined. From left to right: Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin. Credit: NASA
President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the usHornet, the restoration ship for the mission, the place they’re quarantined. From left to proper: Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin. Credit score: NASA

July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — whereas command module pilot Michael Collins orbits above — grow to be the first people to set foot on the Moon. The historic feat manages to fill President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 promise of touchdown Individuals on the Moon by the tip of the last decade, some six years after his assassination.

April 13, 1970: The Apollo 13 catastrophe happens. Three U.S. astronauts — Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise — are inside attain of the Moon when an oxygen tank explodes. The astronauts migrate from the life-sustaining Service Module to the Lunar Module earlier than finishing up a harrowing, multiday return journey again to Earth, which captivated the world.

September 2, 1970: NASA cancels deliberate Apollo 18, 19, and 20 missions, making Apollo 17 this system’s final scheduled mission.

April 19, 1971: The Soviet’s Salyut 1, the world’s first experimental house station, efficiently launches. The station, made by combining elements of the Soviet Almaz and Soyuz spacecraft, measures about 45 ft lengthy and incorporates three important compartments the place future crews can reside and work.

April 21, 1971: Soyuz 10 launches with the plan to grow to be the primary mission to board an area station. Although the Soyuz 10 crew docks safely with the Salyut 1, points with the entry hatch stop them from coming into. Throughout their return, leaking poisonous chemical compounds trigger one cosmonaut to cross out, however all three crew members in the end survive.

Following the only deaths to have ever occurred in space, the USSR started a policy requiring all cosmonauts to wear pressurized spacesuits during reentry. Credit:
Following the one deaths to have ever occurred in house, the us began a coverage requiring all cosmonauts to put on pressurized spacesuits throughout reentry. Credit score:

June 6, 1971: Soyuz 11 docks with the Salyut 1. The three crewmembers — Georgi Debrovolski, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev — efficiently enter the house station and spend three weeks finishing up experiments, setting the report for the longest time spent in house at the moment. Upon returning to Earth, unsuspecting restoration crews uncover the Soyuz 11 crew died throughout re-entry, a results of depressurization as a consequence of a defective valve.

Jan. 5, 1972: NASA begins improvement of the Area Shuttle, a reusable launch car, underneath the steering of President Richard Nixon.

Dec. 19, 1972: Apollo 17 returns to Earth, serving as the ultimate mission of the Apollo program.

Could 14, 1973: The USA launches the first American house station, Skylab, aboard a Saturn V rocket.

November 16, 1973: The notorious Skylab 4 “mutiny” happens, with astronauts reportedly happening strike, purposefully turning off their radios and refusing to speak to floor controllers. In actuality, the crew is just overworked and communication is missing. However an extended heart-to-heart with floor controllers helps alleviate the problems.

Soviet cosmonauts and American astronauts shake hands in orbit as the two nations’ spacecraft dock during the Apollo-Soyuz mission, as seen in this artist’s illustration. Credit: NASA/Davis Meltzer
Soviet cosmonauts and American astronauts shake fingers in orbit as the 2 nations’ spacecraft dock in the course of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, as seen on this artist’s illustration. Credit score: NASA/Davis Meltzer

July 17 1975: The Area Race ends with the Apollo-Soyuz docking mission — humanity’s first worldwide house mission — when U.S. astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts hyperlink up in Earth orbit and shake fingers. Over the following two days, the 2 crews staff as much as carry out a sequence of scientific experiments and know-how demonstrations. However the mission’s important goal is way extra earthly. It’s a political demonstration of peace.


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