Posts Tagged ‘Space Exploration’
This day in history marks the beginning of the United States’ official journey to explore the “final frontier”–outer space. Featured here are a few of the significant events in the history of American manned space flight.
“Equipping the United States for Leadership in the Space Age”—President Dwight D. Eisenhower
When the Soviet Union put the first human-made object into space by launching the artificial satellite named Sputnik in October 1957, the United States faced mounting pressures to enter the “Space Race.” Fearful of being surpassed in missile technology, Congress quickly passed legislation to create a new government agency to conduct civilian space exploration. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration into law on July 29, 1958.
“Sailor Among the Stars”—Dr. Allen O. Gamble
The word astronaut first appeared in the English language in 1929, probably in science fiction, but it wasn’t commonly used until December 1958. That’s when NASA adopted it as the name for the men (and eventually women) it would train to compete in the space race. Dr. Gamble, NASA’s manpower director from 1958-1964, described the selection this way: “Someone found that the term aeronaut, referring to those who ride in balloons and other lighter-than-air vehicles, was derived from ‘sailor in the air.’ From this we arrived at astronaut, meaning ‘sailor among the stars.'”
“Why Don’t You Fix Your Little Problem and Light This Candle?”—Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
The men who made up NASA’s first astronaut class were called the “Mercury 7.” The seven men chosen from a pool of more than 500 American military aviators were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.
Shepard became the first American man in space, making his historic suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. He made the above statement to Mission Control as he sat in the cramped Mercury capsule atop a Redstone rocket on the launch pad, while the launch was delayed for over four hours. The actual flight lasted only 15 minutes but was a success.
“Not Because They Are Easy, But Because They Are Hard”—President John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy gave NASA the goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. On May 25, 1961, he stood before Congress and proclaimed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” On September 12, 1962, he gave another speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, outlining his goals for America’s space program. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Less than seven years later, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would fulfill Kennedy’s vision by landing on the moon.
“We Came in Peace for All Mankind”—Plaque affixed to the leg of the Apollo 11 lunar landing vehicle
When astronauts first landed on the moon in 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission, they left behind evidence that they’d been there. Among these items were an American flag and a plaque, which was signed by President Richard Nixon and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. The plaque bears a map of the Earth and this inscription:
HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND
“The Eagle Has Landed”—Astronaut Neil Armstrong
Six Apollo missions landed on the moon during the years between 1968 and 1972: Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Twelve men actually walked on its surface. Each of the five later Apollo missions also left a flag. Photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite show the five flags still standing in place. (Buzz Aldrin reported that he saw Apollo 11’s flag blown down by rocket exhaust when the lunar lander blasted off the Moon’s surface to rejoin the orbiting command module.) The LRO images also show objects such as the lunar rovers used by some Apollo missions, and even the tire tracks they left behind.
“Okay, Houston, We’ve Had a Problem Here”—Astronaut Jack Swigert
Apollo 13’s journey to the moon was aborted when two of the oxygen-producing fuel cells exploded 2 days after its launch, with the spacecraft about 200,000 miles from Earth. The lack of oxygen wasn’t a real issue, but there was a problem with the CO2 scrubbers–which meant that the three astronauts on board could be suffocated by their own carbon dioxide exhalations. Guided by engineers on the ground at Mission Control, the astronauts used duct tape and surplus materials to repair air filtration canisters in the lunar module to help them survive the journey back to Earth.
“We Will Never Forget Them, Nor the Last Time We Saw Them”—President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan addressed the nation on January 28, 1986, after the Space Shuttle Challenger blew apart just 73 seconds after launch. The entire country mourned the loss of all seven astronauts aboard. The tragedy was a huge setback for the program, and the next mission wasn’t launched until almost three years later. The program suffered another catastrophe on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas during re-entry, killing all seven crew members.
The space shuttle program was launched in 1981, designed to be the “world’s first reusable spacecraft“–launching like a rocket, orbiting like a spacecraft, and landing like a plane. Crews ranged in size from five to seven people. NASA’s space shuttles have traveled 542,398,878 miles, making 21,152 Earth orbits. In all, there were 833 crew members in the 135 shuttle missions that were carried out through the end of the program in July 2011.
The history of NASA includes not only manned spaceflight, but also the exploration of our solar system, galaxies, and the entire universe. Scientific advances have been made in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, aeronautics, Earth and life sciences, as well as lunar and planetary exploration and much more. NASA technology and research have contributed countless innovations and technologies first pioneered in space exploration that benefit everyday life. Among these are cordless power tools, telemedicine, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, satellite television, joysticks and GPS navigation systems. The impact of our nation’s decision to enter the “Space Race” nearly 60 years ago can’t be truly defined or accurately measured.
Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin is well-known for being one of the first people to step foot on the moon. He was part of the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon on July 20, 1969. Although he is now a retired astronaut, he is still active in the space community. He recently wrote a book called “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration” where he explains his ideas for space travel and a future Mars mission.
Buzz Aldrin was born on Jan. 20, 1930 and he celebrates his 86th birthday today. Here are some facts about this famous astronaut:
Educators, visit ProQuest SIRS Discoverer for student resources on Buzz Aldrin and space exploration. Here are some examples of searches to get you started:
Poor Pluto. Imagine being a planet for 76 years and then all-of-a sudden finding yourself relegated to the status of just another “dwarf planet” or “plutoid” in the Kuiper Belt. Well, that’s what you get for being 4.7-billion miles away from the decision makers.
Pluto was officially named on this day (March 24) in 1930 after being discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh on February 18 of that same year. The path toward its discovery is credited to Percival Lowell who founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and funded three separate searches for the elusive “Planet X.”
The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was suggested by young Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology. The moniker was soon embraced by wider culture. Walt Disney was apparently inspired by Tombaugh’s discovery when he introduced Mickey Mouse’s canine companion Pluto in the cartoon “The Chain Gang” in 1930.
From the time of its discovery in 1930 to 2006, Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system, but because additional (and larger) objects have been discovered, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto and the other objects as dwarf planets. (Pluto will always be a planet to me!)
Pluto is usually farther from the Sun than any of the eight planets; however, due to the eccentricity of its orbit, it is closer than Neptune for 20 years out of its 249-year orbit. On July 14, 2015, the Pluto system is due to be visited by a spacecraft for the first time. NASA’s New Horizons probe will perform a flyby during which it will attempt to take detailed measurements and images of Pluto and its moons.
Keep your eyes on the skies.
Here are just a few eLibrary space-related Research Topics & publications:
The 1960s were successful years for NASA and space exploration in general. With the exciting notion of sending humans into the vast unknown and sharing live broadcasts via television, space became a wondrous and tangible reality. Americans welcomed space travel and the endless possibilities, but Americans were not the only ones interested in leading the “Space Race.” On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov did something groundbreaking. He became the first person ever to spacewalk. This milestone paved the way for others to exit their capsules once in space and roam without the confines of a spacecraft. Kathryn Sullivan, the first woman to walk in space, likened spacewalking to swimming. Underwater training thus proved helpful to astronauts before traveling to space. During the height of the space program, astronauts achieved many feats with Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon being a major accomplishment. Nonetheless, spacewalking opened the door 50 years ago and transformed the way space is explored.
Take some time this month to appreciate the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk with a lesson centered on space exploration. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher has got you covered with three main Leading Issues on Space Exploration & Travel, Space Missions and Space Vehicles. With SIRS Leading Issues, you can rest assured that important features including Topic Overviews and Essential Questions, Terms to Know and the accompanying Critical Thinking & Analysis questions are all editorially crafted to your needs as well as your students. Our Common Core guide for Understanding Primary Sources would also be a helpful supplement to any lesson, especially one focused on space.
How will you explore space? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.
Last December NASA successfully launched the unmanned Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, a test flight that lasted over four hours and two trips around the earth. NASA hopes that this maiden voyage is the beginning of what will be their next giant leap: The Journey to Mars.
First things first, however. As a precursor, NASA has developed the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) where it intends to identify and redirect a near-earth asteroid in a stable orbit around the moon. In the 2020s the goal will be to send astronauts aboard Orion to explore the asteroid and bring back samples. ARM is also part of NASA’s Asteroid Initiative, which includes the Asteroid Grand Challenge, an initiative that is designed to identify and relocate potentially hazardous asteroids away from Earth. But the Asteroid Redirect Mission is clearly a stepping stone for the greatest leap that mankind has ever taken.
45 Years ago when Neil Armstrong took the first step on the Moon, it sparked the whole country’s imagination and already our thoughts had turned toward one day manning a flight to Mars. With the development and testing of Orion, that next great leap has begun. As part of the plan, NASA has begun developing technologies, such as new space suits, asteroid sampling techniques, and solar power technology to move large cargo from earth’s orbit into deep space around the moon. All these developments will help NASA make great strides toward the ultimate goal of a human expedition to Mars in the 2030s.
You can find a host of information by doing basic and advanced keyword searches for resources on specific missions to Mars, Near-Earth objects such as asteroids, and other NASA space missions, including information on NASA’s two new missions. Check out our Research Topics on the planet Mars, Mars Exploration, Mars Rover and Pathfinder Missions, and Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity), as well as one covering asteroids.