How many people have journeyed into space?


Since the first manned space mission in 1961, more than 560 people have journeyed into space - 27 on missions to the Moon and the rest in orbit around Earth. To date, only Russia, China, and the United States have launched humans into space. However, humans are not the only space travellers. Animals such as dogs, monkeys, and spiders have all been sent into space to help with research.

  1. Alan Shepard was the second person, and first American, to journey into space.
  2. Ulf Merbold, from Germany, became the first European to fly aboard a space shuttle.
  3. Jim Voss set the record for longest spacewalk (8 hours 56 minutes) with Susan Helms.
  4. Susan Helms.
  5. Laika was the first animal to orbit Earth. The Russian dog travelled in Sputnik 2 in 1957.
  6. Alexei Leonov made the first spacewalk in March 1965. He spent 10 minutes in space secured to his Voskhod 2 craft.
  7. Eileen Collins became the first female shuttle pilot in February 1995, and the first female shuttle commander in July 1999.
  8. Yang Liwei was the first Chinese astronaut (taikonaut). China’s first manned space flight was launched in October 2003.
  9. Svetlana Savitskaya was the second woman in space and the first woman to spacewalk.
  10. Michael Collins was the third member of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. He orbited the Moon, as Armstrong and Aldrin explored its surface.
  11. Dennis Tito was the first space tourist. He paid £14 million ($20 million) for a six-day trip in 2001.
  12. Baker, a squirrel monkey, was launched into space on 28 May 1959. She travelled with a rhesus monkey called Able.
  13. Eugene Cernan was part of the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. He was the last person to walk on the Moon.
  14. Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the Moon. He spent 2 hours 35 minutes exploring the lunar surface.
  15. Yuri Gagarin was the first person to fly into space. His trip in April 1961 took him once round Earth and lasted 108 minutes.
  16. Peggy Whitson holds the record for the longest female spaceflight (289.2 days).
  17. Mike Melvill was the first commercial astronaut. He piloted SpaceShipOne in June 2004.
  18. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to fly into space. She made a three-day journey aboard Vostok 6 in June 1963.
  19. Gennady Padalka holds the record for the total time spent in space. In his five trips, he has clocked up 878.5 days in space.
  20. Sam was a rhesus monkey who was sent into space in 1960 to test equipment that would be used in future manned flights.
  21. Valeri Polyakov holds the record for the longest time spent in space during one trip. His record stands at 437.7 days.
  22. Bruce McCandless made the first untethered spacewalk in February 1984.
  23. John Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth, in 1962. He became the oldest space voyager in 1998, aged 77.
  24. Green tree frogs were taken to the Mir space station in 1990.
  25. Buzz Aldrin was the second person to set foot on the Moon.
  26. Swordtail fish travelled on board the space shuttle Columbia in 1998.
  27. Squirrel monkeys and 24 albino rats were taken to Spacelab-3 in 1985.
  28. Arabella, a spider, was sent to the Skylab space station in 1973. Once space-adapted, she spun perfect webs.
  29. Albino rats.
  30. Quail chicks hatched from eggs on the Mir space station in March 1990.
  31. Belka and Strelka became the first dogs to go into orbit and survive the journey in 1960.
  32. Ham was the first chimpanzee to travel in space. In 1961, he was sent to test equipment that would be used in the first US manned space mission.

Picture Credit : Google

Story of Flight – SPACE TRAVEL II


Since the Apollo Moon missions were completed in 1972, no astronauts have been further than Earth orbit, but many unmanned spacecraft, called space probes, have visited the other planets in our Solar System. Probes carry cameras and sensing equipment that send back photographs and other data. Some probes actually land on the planets’ surfaces. Hundreds of satellites for communications, weather forecasting, scientific research and astronomy, have also been launched into Earth orbit.

The first permanent space station, Salyut 1, was launched in 1971. Inside space stations, astronauts carry out experiments to see how people react to staying in space for long periods, and how plants and animals cope with very low gravity. Probes, satellites, space stations and their crews are lifted into space by launch vehicles such as the European Ariane space rocket, or by the American space shuttle.

At lift-off, the shuttle is made up of the winged orbiter, where the astronauts travel, a huge fuel tank, which supplies fuel to the orbiter’s three main rocket engines, and two booster rockets, attached to the fuel tank. The fuel tank contains liquid oxygen and hydrogen. The booster rockets use solid fuel. They work like huge fireworks, and cannot be switched off after ignition. The orbiter also has two smaller engines called the orbital manoeuvring system (OMS), and clusters of small gas-powered thrusters at the nose and tail, used for small manoeuvres in orbit.

Soon after lift-off, the shuttle turns on to its back. The booster rockets last for two minutes, then separate from the fuel tank and parachute back to Earth for re-use. The fuel in the external tank runs out after nine minutes, after which the orbiter jettisons it and it falls back into the atmosphere, where it burns up because of the intense heat created. The orbiter is now on its own. The OMS engines are fired for a short time to accelerate the orbiter into its correct orbit.

The space shuttle was designed as a re-usable spacecraft because of the huge cost of rockets and craft such as the Saturn V and Apollo, all the parts of which were completely destroyed during a mission. The shuttle flies into space like a rocket and glides back to Earth like an aeroplane.

During “extra-vehicular activity” outside their spacecraft, astronauts are protected from the cold, high-speed meteorites and radiation from the Sun by a complex spacesuit. Astronauts sometimes use a manned-manoeuvring unit (MMU), powered by tiny gas jets, which allows them to manoeuvre freely in space.

Less than fifteen minutes after launch, the shuttle is in orbit at an altitude of about 200 km. Now the astronauts can carry out their mission - in this case, launching a satellite from the “payload bay” (in the upper part of the orbiter’s fuselage) using the orbiter’s remotely-controlled robot arm. With the mission complete, the OMS engines slow down the orbiter so that it begins to fall back to Earth.

During re-entry into the atmosphere, heat-resistant ceramic tiles protect the orbiter from the intense heat. It gradually slows as it descends, and finally glides back on to a runway like an aeroplane.

The whole shuttle, except for the large fuel tank, which is destroyed during launch, can be re-used. The first shuttle mission was flown by the shuttle Columbia in 1981. Since then, there have been dozens of missions to launch or repair satellites, service space stations, and carry out scientific and military research.


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, travelling even to Earth’s closest neighbour planet Mars, let alone planets in other solar systems, is still impractical. A trip to Mars and back would take more than a year. The equipment, supplies and fuel for such a trip would require a vast rocket to launch a spacecraft from Earth. A return trip to the outer planets would take a lifetime without some new form of propulsion with much greater power than a rocket engine. For the time being, space probes remain the best way of exploring distant worlds.

Work is under way on a new international space station, which will be a base for scientific research. It is a modular structure, being built in space module-by-module, with sections being delivered into orbit by the shuttle and unmanned launch vehicles. In the future, space stations such as this, or permanent bases on the Moon, could be a starting point for space journeys. Spacecraft would be built and launched from there rather than from Earth.

New types of reusable vehicles, called spaceplanes, which will carry supplies to space stations, are under development. They will take off and gain altitude like aeroplanes, with their engines working like jet engines, and then make the jump to orbit with their engines working like rocket engines. Spaceplanes could also make passenger flights, cutting the journey time between Europe and Australia to under two hours. The international space station will have a spaceplane “lifeboat” for the crew.

Picture Credit : Google

Story of Flight – Space Travel


Although space starts just 100 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, it is very difficult to get there. Aeroplanes cannot reach space because the air gets thinner and thinner with altitude. Their wings begin to lose lift and their jet engines stop working through lack of oxygen. So spacecraft need rocket engines which work in the vacuum of space. To travel in space, a spacecraft must reach a speed of 28,500 kilometres per hour, the minimum speed required to escape the pull of the Earth’s gravity. Once in space, the craft’s engines can be turned off. It maintains its speed because there is no air to slow it down.

In a rocket engine, two different fuels mix and react together inside a combustion chamber, creating hot gases that rush out of a nozzle at great speed. The gases rushing in one direction push the engine and the spacecraft in the opposite direction. The first experimental rocket was launched in 1926 by the American inventor Robert Goddard, but it was not until the 1950s that a rocket powerful enough to reach space was developed. Spacecraft are normally carried into space by rocket-powered launch vehicles, which are huge compared to the spacecraft. For example, the 140-tonne Apollo spacecraft needed a 3000-tonne Saturn V rocket to launch it. Most of the weight was fuel.

The enormous Saturn V, built to launch the Apollo series of spacecraft, consisted of three rocket stages. In a multi-stage rocket, the engines of each stage fire until their fuel runs out. Then the stage is jettisoned (cast off) and the engines of the next stage fire. The rocket gets lighter each time a stage is lost, allowing it to accelerate more easily. This is more efficient than one rocket.

The first stage of a Saturn V had five engines fuelled by kerosene and liquid oxygen stored in huge tanks. It created as much thrust as 50 jumbo jets. The second stage also had five engines, fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The third stage had one engine, also fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen.

On top of the 111-metre rocket were the Lunar Module, Service Module and Command Module of the Apollo spacecraft, and an escape rocket, that pulled the Command Module clear of the rocket in case of an emergency during launch.

Robert Goddard’s first rocket reached an altitude of just 12.5 metres. The German V2 long-range rocket (centre) was built as a weapon from 1942. The Soviet Vostok launcher launched the first-ever satellite, Sputnik 1.

Picture Credit : Google

What were major Moon Missions?


After the former Soviet Union launched the first man into orbit in 1961, American President John E Kennedy announced that the USA would land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. A new spacecraft specially designed for the mission, called Apollo, was built. It consisted of a Command Module, from where the astronauts controlled the craft, a Service Module, which contained a rocket engine and life-support systems, and a Lunar Module, the only section that was to descend to the Moon’s surface. A new launch vehicle, the giant Saturn V, was also built. During a series of missions in Earth and Moon orbit throughout the 1960s, Apollo was thoroughly tested and astronauts trained for the Moon landing.

The Lunar Module of Apollo 11, called Eagle, landed on the Moon on 20th July 1969. A few hours after touchdown, watched by millions on live television, Neil Armstrong clambered down a ladder and stepped on to the surface to become the first human on the Moon. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin followed him. The third astronaut on the mission, Michael Collins, orbited above in the Command Module. Armstrong and Aldrin gathered samples of Moon rock and soil and planted a flag before lifting off in the upper section of the Lunar Module to dock with the Command Module. There they rejoined Collins, jettisoned the Lunar Module and began the return trip to Earth. Five more Apollo Moon missions followed the last in 1972.

Picture Credit : Google