The want to explore space started whenever people looked at the sky and wondered, “Hey, I wonder what’s beyond what I can see?” In fact, by looking at the sky you are already exploring space, you are just limited to what you could see at night with your naked eye.
In the 1600’s, the first telescope allowed people to investigate the sky. Then in 1903, the wright brothers built the first plane, which other inventors quickly improved on, and then WW1 saw planes getting more efficient and effective. In WW2, the Nazi’s were on cutting edge technology and built a jet engine plane that influenced a new generation of Ariel technology. The V2 rocket was developed by the germans, and that was the first man-made object capable of crossing the boundary of space. It was a long-range missile that had a maximum altitude of 128 miles, equivalent to 206 km. Therefore, at the end of WW2 the US and USSR each tried to capture as many V2 rockets and German engineers as possible.
Let us start by setting a definition of space travel. The space line is known as the Karman line, which is 100 km above the earth’s surface. At this point, the air becomes too thin to support aeronautical flight due to the lack of lift generation. A section called the low Earth Orbit starts around 160 km and continues up to 2000 km high. This is where most manned space flights happen and are also where most satellites orbit. In 1947, the soviets with the help of some German teams launched the R-1, and also made some radiation and animal experiments on some flights. But suborbital experiments only allowed a very short time in space which limited their usefulness. Also, intercontinental ballistic missiles were developed by both countries, the US and USSR, and were deployed to different bases which were practically missile launchers. This created a situation known by scientists as the “Mutually assured destruction” situation. Which is the same as the name suggests, if one country shoots a missile, then the other will retaliate, causing mutual destruction.
Then, there was a Soviet Success, they had the first living being in orbit in 1957, the first human spaceflight in 1961, the first spacewalk on March 18, 1965, and the first automatic landing on another celestial body in 1966. After this, the US started NASA and responded with several firsts of their own, the first human-piloted space flight in 1961, the first orbital solar observatory in1962, and the first piloted orbital mission of another celestial body in 1968. But the biggest thing was that they landed a man on the moon and returned him back to earth alive. They did a manned landing, but before that did several unmanned tests called the Apollo missions, using the Saturn V rocket. At the Kennedy space center on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission left the earth and succeeded in landing on the moon on July 20. Another 5 Apollo missions landed on the moon in the next 3 years, and then the Apollo mission was discontinued. America has also sent out the Hubble telescope and voyager space probes, and the Voyager 1 has left the solar system for the first time ever in 2012.
Space exploration has let us know so much and has proven multiple times how the is a creator behind us, God. It also proves to us how special earth is, and how everything is so perfectly made.