Animal space pioneers
Before humans went into space animals were used to test equipment. The first animal to be sent up in a rocket — but not into space — was Albert 1, a maLe rhesus monkey. He was Launched in a US Air Force converted German V2 rocket in 1948. He and his successor, ALbert 2, died during the tests. However, on 20 September 1951 a monkey and 11 mice were recovered after a Launch in a US Aerobee rocket. Many further animal experiments were carried out before the first manned space flight to test the effects of radiation and weightlessness on living bodies.
Space dogs, and a cat
Laika, a female Samoyed husky, became the first animal in orbit after being Launched by the USSR in Sputnik 2 on 3 November 1957. There was no way to bring her down and she died after ten days in space. More dogs were launched in tests before human cosmonauts went into orbit. Two female Samoyed huskies, Belka and Strelka, orbited successfully on 19 August 1960. Stretka later gave birth to six puppies, one of which was given to US President John F. Kennedy. On 18 October 1963, a French Veronique AOl rocket launched a cat called Felix into space and returned him safely to Earth by parachute.
AbLe, a female rhesus monkey, and Baker, a female squirrel monkey, were launched by the USA on 28 May 1959. They did not orbit and successfully returned to Earth. On 29 November 1961 Enos, a male chimpanzee, completed two orbits and survived. Many other chimpanzees and monkeys have since orbited. The USSR’s first space primates were monkeys Abrek and Bion, who orbited on 14 December 1983 in one of a series of Bion satellite experiments, which also carried tortoises, rats, insects, fish, newts and frogs.
On 9 November 1970, the USA’s Orbiting Frog Ototith satellite (OFO-A) launched two bullfrogs into orbit for a week. Between 2 and 10 December 1990, Toyohiro Akiyama, a Japanese journalist, took si green tree frogs to the Soviet Mir space station to conduct weightlessness experiments.
Arabella, an orb-weaving garden spider, arrived at the US Skylab-3 on 28 July 1973. She spent almost 60 days in orbit in an experiment to test the effect of weightlessness on her web-weaving skills.
A space menagerie
The STS-90 mission of space shuttle Columbia (17 April to 3 May 1998) contained the Neurolab — a space menagerie with 170 baby rats, 18 mice, 229 swordtail fish, 135 snails, four oyster toad fish and 1,514 cricket eggs and Larvae.
Can of worms
On 1 February 2003, space shuttle Columbia STS- 107 broke up on re-entry and its crew of seven astronauts were killed. On-board animal experiments involving silkworms, spiders, carpenter bees, harvester ants and Japanese killfish were destroyed, but, amazingly, canisters of worms were recovered alive.
Planets visited by spacecraft
No human has yet set foot on any space body other than Earth and the Moon. But unmanned spacecraft have taken photographs, made scientific readings and gathered data from aLL but one of the planets in the Solar System, either by flying past or Landing. Pluto is scheduled for its first visit in 2015.
Venera 4 (USSR)
flybys 2006, 2007
|Mars||Mariner 4 (USA)
Mars Pathfinder (USA)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (USA)
in orbit 2006—
|Jupiter||Pioneer 10 (USA)
New Horizons (USA)
|Mercury||Mariner 10 (USA)
flybys 2008, 2009
scheduled to orbit 2011
|Saturn||Pioneer 11 (USA)
|Uranus||Voyager 2 (USA)||flyby 1986|
|Neptune||Voyager 2 (USA)||flyby 1989|
|Pluto||New Horizons (USA)||Scheduled flyby 2015|
*DeLiberately destroyed entering Jupiter’s atmosphere, rather than risk contaminating moon Europa with bacteria from Earth.
Thrust is the force required to lift a vehicLe such as an aircraft or rocket off the ground. Rockets often have several stages. Each one provides a proportion of the thrust required to carry a satellite, space shuttle or other vehicle into orbit or into space, dropping away as their propelLant has been used so that their weight no longer needs to be carried. Below are the largest and most powerful types of rocket that have been used since 1967.
|Rocketjountry/dates||Length (m)||Weight (tonnes)||Thrust (tonnes)|
|Saturn V (USA) 1967—75
Launched Apollo spacecraft
|STS (space shuttle,USA) 1981-||56||2040||2630|
|Titan 4 (USA) 1989-98||54||906||1448|
|Ariane (France) 1996— Carries satellites up to 16 tonnes into orbit||54||746||1162|
|Delta IV (USA) 2001—||70.7||733||884|
|Long March (ChangZheng) CZ 2-C
|Atlas CentaurSL V-3D (USA) 1973-83||38||149||148|
The USSR’s Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to enter Earth’s orbit. This 83.6kg (184lb) metal sphere transmitted signals back to Earth for three weeks before its batteries failed. In 1958 the USA began to launch its own satellites. Five went into orbit, including SCORE (Signal Communications Orbit Retay Experiment) which transmitted back to Earth a pie-recorded Christmas message from President Eisenhower. All of the earliest satellites have since crashed back to Earth, except Vanguard 1 (USA, 1958) which is still in space — and uxely to remain so for another 200 years.
Dyer the past 50 years, many more artificial satellites have been launched, with a greater range of uses.
Hubble Space Telescope has been taking photographs of distant galaxies since 1990. In 2007 the Herschel Space Observatory is scheduled for launch. This new telescope will have the biggest
—irror ever in space (3.5m across).
Der 5,000 satellites have been launched to transmit telephone,
-o and television signals around the world. Fewer than half are smi orbiting, and many have stopped working.
Earth observation sateLlites
‘-ese transmit images of the weather and the Earth’s environment.
-e, helped to show that the ozone layer was being depleted.
.e-rments use these “spies in the sky” for surveillance but
– -ecise functions are secret.
Goba Positioning System
tystem of 24 linked satellites that allows people to pinpoint
– es.st position anywhere on Earth. The system is operated by z-.e …5 partrnent of Defense and is used by aircraft and ships.
i-.se-s are now common in cars, too.
When satellites reach the end of their useful life, they may be deliberately directed back in such a way that they burn up as they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere or come down in the oceans or away from places where they could cause damage. So far, no one has been killed or seriously injured by space debris. The 69-tonne Skylab re-entered in 1979, scattering large chunks in the Australian desert, and Russia’s Mir space station, which weighed 120 tonnes, came down in the Pacific.
About 100—200 objects, each larger than a football, re-enter every year, but there are still many pieces of space junk in orbit. A survey carried out in June 2000 calculated that there are 90 space probes and 2,671 satellites still in space. There are also 6,096 other pieces of space debris, including parts of rockets: an Ariane rocket booster exploded in 1986, scattering 400 fragments large enough to be tracked. In 1991 space shuttle Discovery 5T5-48 narrowly avoided a discarded Soviet rocket.
All kinds of tools and equipment have been lost during spacewalks, including the Hasselblad camera dropped in 1966 by Gemini 10 astronaut Michael Collins. Other items include thousands of “dead” satellites and fragments that have not re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and burned up. These survive as orbiting hazards to spacecraft such as the space shuttle — its windows are bombarded and have to be replaced before the shuttle can fly again. Even tiny objects can be a danger in space. Flecks of paint from spacecraft travelling at 40,000km/h are able to puncture a spacesuit.
Astronauts and cosmonauts
The word Astronaut was first used in 1880 by the British writer Percy Greg. It was the name he gave to a space ship in his noveL Across the Zodiac. By the 1950s it had become the commonly used word for a space voyager. The Russian equivalent is cosmonaut
(universe + sailor).
12 ApriL 1961 First person in space Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made a single orbit of Earth in Vostok 1, a flight that lasted 1 hour 48 minutes.
5 May 1961 First American astronaut America’s first astronaut, Alan B. Shepard Jr, entered space aboard Mercury 3, but did not orbit during his 15 minute 22 second mission.
6 August 1961 First flight of over
Gherman S. Titov (USSR) in Vostok2 made
the first flight of more than 24 hours and
was also the youngest ever astronaut at
25 years 10 months 25 days.
20 February 1962 First US orbit
John H. Glenn Jr in the Friendship 7 capsule made the first US orbit, completing three orbits in 4 hours 55 mins.
16 June 1963 First woman in space Valentina V. Tereshkova (USSR) in Vostok6 was the first woman in space. She spent 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 8 seconds in space. She was also the youngest (26 years 3 months 10 days) woman in space and the first to be married to another space traveller, Vostok 3/ Soyuz 9 cosmonaut Andrian NikoLayev.
18 March 1965 First space waLk Aleskei Leonov (USSR) made the first space walk, from Voskhod 2. It took 24 minutes and it almost ended in disaster when his spacesuit ballooned. He was unable to return through the airlock until he reduced the pressure in his suit to a dangerously low level.
23 March 1965 First two-man US mission
John Young and Virgil “Gus” Grissom made
the first two-man US mission in Gemini 3.
Grissom was the first astronaut to make
a second flight.
3 June 1965 First US spacewatk Edward H. White II made a 36 minute spacewalk from Gemini4.
24 ApriL 1967 First space death After 18 orbits in Soyuz 1, cosmonaut Vladimir M. Komarov died when his parachute became tangled and his capsule crash-landed.
24 December 1968 First manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon Apollo 8 (followed in 1969 by Apollo missions 9 and 10) orbited the Moon but did not land.
20 JuLy 1969 First Moon Landing Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin become the first men on the Moon. The capsule in which they returned to Earth can be seen at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Washington DC, USA.
18 June 1983 First US woman in space
Sally Ride was launched in space shuttle
Challenger STS-7, the first reusable soace ,0k ri a
18 May 1991 First British astronaut Helen Sharman travelled to the Mir spa station and spent a week in space.
29 June 1995 First space shuttLe!
space station docking
Space shuttle Atlantis STS-71 docked with
Soviet space station Mir.
26 September 1996 US endurance record
On her 5th mission, US astronaut Shannon
Lucid completed 188 days aboard the
Russian Mir station, setting a world record
for women. Lucid was born in China. She
flew more missions than any woman and at 53 was the oldest female in space.
4 December 1998 InternationaL
First stage was established.
2 November 2000 First crew on ISS
An American and Russian crew began living aboard the International Space Station.
28 April—6 May 2001 First space tourist
US millionaire Dennis Tito became the first
space tourist, paying $20 million for his
Russian Soyuz TM-32 flight to the
International Space Station.
15—16 October 2003 First astronaut Launched by China
Chinese astronaut Lang Liwei made eight orbits of Earth in a Shenzhou 5 spacecraft. China made its second flight, Shenzhou 6, with two astronauts on 12—16 October 2005.
21 June 2004 First private spacefLight Mike Melvill, aged 63, became the second oldest astronaut when he entered space aboard his privately-funded SpaceShipOne.
Manned space missions
During the 1950s, there was a “space race” between the USA and Soviet Union for the honour of being the first country to send a human into space. NASA’s Mercury missions were originaLLy unmanned, or carried onLy animaLs, and the USSR gained a Lead by launching the first man into orbit in 1961. Each country’s subsequent space missions had different aims. The USA focused on Moon Landings with their Apollo programme and Later the re-usable space shuttLe. The Soviets and later Russia concentrated on Long-duration missions, with the Mir space station. The Latest manned mission is the International Space Station, which is four times Larger than Mir.
|Mir space station||USSR/Russia||1986—2001|
|International Space Station||USA, canada, Japan,European Space Agency, Russia, Brazil||1998—|
All the men on the Moon
The human expLoration of the Moon Lasted just over three years and invoLved a total of six missions. In each, a pair of US astronauts went down to the surface in a LEM (Lunar excursion moduLe) while a third orbited in a CSM (command service module). The missions provided scientists with a huge amount of information about the Moon. The Apollo 17 duo spent the Longest on the Moon. They remained on the surface for 75 hours, part of that time in a Lunar roving vehicle.
|Sl No.||Astronaut||Spacecraft||Total EVA* (hr:min)||Mission dates|
|1||NeilA.Armstrong||Apollo 11||2:32||16—24 jul 1969|
|2||Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin||Apollo 11||2:15||16—24 Jul 1969|
|3||Charles Conrad Jr||Apollo 12||7:45||14—24 Nov 1969|
|4||Alan L. Bean||Apollo 12||7:45||14—24 Nov 1969|
|5||Alan B. Shepard||Apollo 14||9:23||31 Jan—9 Feb1971|
|6||Edgar D. Mitchell||Apollo 14||9:23||31 Jan—9 Feb 1971|
|7||David R. Scott||Apollo 15||19:08||26 Jul—7 Aug 1971|
|8||james B. Irwin||Apollo 15||18:35||26 Jul—7 Aug 1971|
|9||John W.Young||Apollo 16||20:14||16—27 Apr 1972|
|10||Charles M. Duke Jr||Apollo 16||20:14||16—27 Apr 1972|
|11||Eugene A. Cernan||Apollo 17||22:04||7—19 Dec 1972|
|12||Harrison H. Schmitt||Apollo 17||22:04||7—19 Dec 1972|
* Extra vehicular activity: time spent Out of the lunar module on the Moon’s surface.
The six US Apollo missions above resulted in successful Moon landings. Apollo 73,
11—17 April 1970, was aborted and returned to Earth after an oxygen tank exploded.
- Naming the space shuttles
Unlike space rockets, NASA’s space shuttLes, or orbiter vehicLes, were designed to be re-used. Each has a name, but every mission on which it goes is given a unique number.
The acronym STS (Space Transportation System) has been used throughout the shuttle programme. The first nine fLights were simpLy numbered STS-1 (12—14 ApriL 1981) to STS-9. A more compLicated system was then used, but the originaL system of STS + number has been revived. They do not aLways foLLow precise numericaL order, as missions may be deLayed and a Later-numbered mission may have to take pLace before a previous one can be rescheduLed.
Five space shuttles were built. Of these, Discovery (first launch 1984),Atlantis (1985) and Endeavour (1992) remain in service. Challenger was destroyed during its 10th mission (STS-51-L) on 28 January 1986 and Columbia was Lost on re-entry from its 28th mission (STS- 107) on 1 February 2003.
Endeavour was named after a competition among American schooLchiLdren. Its name commemorates that of 18th-century British expLorer Captain James Cook’s ship, which sank in Newport Harbor, Rhode IsLand, in 1778.
Longest space walk
The record for the Longest-ever spacewatk was broken from 10—11 March 2001, when mission specialists James Voss and Susan Helms stepped outside space shuttle Discovery STS- 102 to do construction work on the space station. Their EVA (extra vehicular activity) lasted 8 hours 56 minutes.