WHAT WAS THE ‘SPACE RACE’????
The mid-to-late 20th century saw the emergence of a keen competition between the USA and the Soviet Union, the most powerful nations after the Second World War, for technological supremacy in space; this was the ‘space race’, which grew out of the ongoing cold war that had spread not only on the Earth but also in space. Both the countries vied with each other to be the pioneer in space exploration and launching of satellites and other technological innovations in space. The successful launch of Sputnik 1 was followed by the establishment of the NASA, and around twelve years later human beings set foot upon the moon for the first time. Today, the space shuttle, an American spaceship driven by rockets, is used to take researchers and astronauts to the ISS-a space station constructed in space.
WHY WAS THE NASA ESTABLISHED???
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in the USA in 1958,because the Americans no longer wanted to be overshadowed by the Soviet Union in the field of space technology. The NASA worked feverishly on sending human beings in to space as soon as possible. However, the Soviets were ahead of them, and the Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin become the first man to circle around the Earth within a span of 108 minutes on April 1961.A month later the USA gave proof of their technological mettle. Alan B. Shepard, an American naval aviator, took a 15-min suborbital flight in space. In February 1962, the American astronaut John Glenn succeeded in circling the Earth three times within five hours.
WHO OR WHAT WAS SPUTNIK???
Sputnik 1 was a radio satellite, which the Soviet Union sent in to an orbit 900 km above the Earth in October 1957. The Americans were shocked at this huge technological achievement of the Soviet Union, brought to their notice by the beeps from space-this reaction came to be known as the ‘Sputnik Shock’. The Soviet success went even further. In November 1957, a female dog by the name of Laika circled the Earth in Sputnik 2 and become the first living creature to travel in space. However, it died before reaching the Earth. The Americans made their mark in 1958 when they launched a satellite in space, which conducted scientific studies while in orbit.
WHEN DID HUMAN BEINGS FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON???
American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. On July 21, 1969, he climbed down from Eagle, the landing craft of Apollo 11, and walked on the surface of the Moon. Moments later, his colleague Edwin Aldrin followed. Michael Collins, the third astronaut, controlled the mother ship during this spectacular event. All over the world, people followed this mission intently on television-the USA was now the winner of the space race. The successful Apollo 11 mission was preceded by many unsuccessful attempts. There were major setbacks too. In 1962, for instance, a huge fire broke out in the Apollo 1 capsule while it was still on the launching ramp. All the astronauts inside died in this fire.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROCKETS AND AIRCRAFT???
Unlike the jet engines in aircraft, where air is compressed and ignited, rocket engines do not need air to operate. The oxygen needed for the combustion is already present in its fuel, which is either solid or liquid form, As soon as the rocket fuel is ignited, gases are produced that drive the rocket forward with immense force. Thanks to this technology, rockets can fly in airless space. In fact, space travel would never have happened without the invention of the rocket engine.
WHAT IS A SPACE SHUTTLE???
The space shuttle developed by NASA is different from other spaceships-almost all its parts can recycled. When the shuttle is lunched, the two launching rockets get separated at a height of about 50 km, and their landing impact in the sea is reduced by parachutes. The rocket hulls are caught by the retrieval ships of NASA and filled again for later launching. Only the huge external fuel tank vaporizes in space. When the shuttle has to return, it switches off the drives before entering the Earth’s atmosphere, and then lands on the ground in a gliding flight.
DID YOU KNOW THAT….????
• THE RUSSIAN COSMONAUT WALENTINA TERESCHKOWA WAS THE FIRST WOMEN TO FLY IN SPACE.
• SPACE TRAVELLERS ARE CATEGORIZED ACCORDING TO THEIR PLACE OF ORIGIN.THUS, WE HAVE ASTRONAUTS (USA, WESTERN EUROPE), COSMONAUTS (RUSSIA, EASTERN EUROPE), AND TAIKONAUTS (CHINA).
• A FEW PEOPLE HAVE VISITED THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) AS SPACE TOURISTS.. THE FIRST VISIT WAS MADE IN 2001 BY THE AMERICAN MULTIMILLIONAIRE DENNIS TITO.