‘The road to the stars is deep and dangerous. But we’re not afraid…’—Yuri Gagarin.
We look back at some of the most important milestones in spaceflight and discovery, taken from The History of Space Exploration. From Laika the dog, the first animal in Earth orbit, to Aldrin’s footprint on the moon, these are defining moments of courage, curiosity, and sheer star-struck wonder that have made up our extra-terrestrial adventures.
Sixty years ago from October of last year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration opened for business. Ever since the Second World War, which heralded significant advances in rocket technology, the United States and Soviet Union had entered a head-to-head race to get humans into outer space. From the beginning of its operations in October 1958, NASA had some 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories, and two test facilities — all striving towards spaceflight and, ultimately, a successful moon landing. Meanwhile, the Soviet Space Program, initially boosted by captured scientists from the German rocket program, set a number of major space exploration milestones, including the first animal, the first human, and the first woman in space. Since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, more than 6,000 functioning satellites have been launched into Earth’s orbit and beyond and more than 540 people have travelled into space. Here are some of the key moments, men, and women in the history of cosmic endeavours.