Space Age

Space Age

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The Space Age is a time period encompassing the activities related to the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

, space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. The Space Age is generally considered to have begun with Sputnik (1957). Furthermore it is argued that this age brought a new dimension to the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Beginning



The first man-made rocket to breach the boundary of space was a German V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 (also known as A4) in 1942. Because of its destructive use during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it did not gain scientific acknowledgment at the time. Its chief developer Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 later became involved with NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

.

The Space Age began with the development of several technologies that culminated on October 4, 1957, with the launch of Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

 by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This was the known world's first artificial satellite, orbiting the Earth in 98.1 minutes and weighing in at 83 kg. The launch of Sputnik 1 ushered a new era of political, scientific and technological achievements that became known as the Space Age.

The Space Age was characterized by rapid development of new technology in a close race mostly between the US and the Soviet Union. Rapid advances were made in rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

ry, materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

, computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s and other areas. Much of the technology originally developed for space applications has been spun off
Government spin-off
Government spin-off is civilian goods which are the result of military or governmental research. One prominent example of a type of government spin-off is technology that has been commercialized through NASA funding, research, licensing, facilities, or assistance. NASA spin-off technologies have...

 and found other uses.

The Space Age reached its peak with the Apollo program, that captured the imagination of much of the world's population. The landing of Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 was watched by over 500 million people around the world and is widely recognized as one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Since then, public attention has largely moved to other areas. Public perception of the dangers and cost of space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

 in the US was greatly affected by the Challenger disaster in 1986. Public interest in space exploration further faded when the space race came to an end due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

.

During the 1990s funding for space related programs fell sharply as the remaining structures of the Soviet Union disintegrated and NASA no longer had any direct competition.

Since then participation in space launches has increasingly widened to more governments and commercial interests. Since the 1990s, the current period has more often been referred to as the Information Age
Information Age
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously...

 rather than the Space Age, since space exploration and space-related technologies gained a perception by many people of being commonplace.

Current period



In the early 21st century, the Ansari X Prize
Ansari X Prize
The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

 competition was set up to help jump start private spaceflight
Private spaceflight
Private spaceflight is flight above Earth altitude conducted by and paid for by an entity other than a government. In the early decades of the Space Age, the government space agencies of the Soviet Union and United States pioneered space technology augmented by collaboration with affiliated design...

, which was won by Space Ship One in 2004, becoming the first spaceship not funded by a government agency.

Several countries now have space programs; from related technology ventures to full fledged space programs with launch facilities. There are many scientific and commercial satellites in use today, with a total of hundreds of satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s in orbit, and several countries have plans to send humans into space.

Chronology



Date First ... Mission Person(s) Country
October 4, 1957 artificial satellite Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

- Soviet Union
January 2, 1959 Lunar flyby, and first spacecraft to achieve a heliocentric orbit
Heliocentric orbit
A heliocentric orbit is an orbit around the Sun. All planets, comets, and asteroids in our Solar System are in such orbits, as are many artificial probes and pieces of debris. The moons of planets in the Solar System, by contrast, are not in heliocentric orbits as they orbit their respective planet...

 
Luna 1
Luna 1
Luna 1 , first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.While traveling through the outer Van Allen...

 
- Soviet Union
September 12, 1959 Impacted on the Lunar surface; thereby becoming the first human object to reach another world Luna 2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

 
- Soviet Union
October 7, 1959 Pictures of the far side of the moon
Far side of the Moon
The far side of the Moon is the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away, and is not visible from the surface of the Earth. The far hemisphere was first photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959, and was first directly observed by human eyes when the Apollo 8 mission orbited the Moon...

 
Luna 3
Luna 3
The Soviet space probe Luna 3 of 1959 was the third space probe to be sent to the neighborhood of the Moon, and this mission was an early feat in the spaceborne exploration of outer space...

 
- Soviet Union
April 12, 1961 Human in space Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

 
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 
Soviet Union
March 18, 1965 Spacewalk
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

 
Voskhod 2
Voskhod 2
Voskhod 2 was a Soviet manned space mission in March 1965. Vostok-based Voskhod 3KD spacecraft with two crew members on board, Pavel Belyaev and Alexei Leonov, was equipped with an inflatable airlock...

 
Alexey Leonov  Soviet Union
December 15, 1965 Space rendezvous
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 
Gemini 6A
Gemini 6A
-Backup crew:-Mission parameters:* Mass: * Perigee: * Apogee: * Inclination: 28.97°* Period: 88.7 min-Stationkeeping with GT-7:* Start: December 15, 1965 19:33 UTC* End: December 16, 1965 00:52 UTC-Objectives:...

 & Gemini 7
Gemini 7
Gemini 7 was a 1965 manned spaceflight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the 4th manned Gemini flight, the 12th manned American flight and the 20th spaceflight of all time . The crew of Frank F. Borman, II and James A...

 
Schirra
Wally Schirra
Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. was an American test pilot, United States Navy officer, and one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, America's effort to put humans in space. He is the only person to fly in all of America's first three space programs...

, Stafford
Thomas Patten Stafford
Thomas Patten Stafford is a retired American Air Force lieutenant general and former NASA astronaut. He flew aboard two Gemini space flights; and in 1969 was the commander of Apollo 10, the second manned mission to orbit the Moon and the first to fly a lunar module there.In 1975, Stafford was...

, Borman
Frank Borman
Frank Frederick Borman, II is a retired NASA astronaut and engineer, best remembered as the Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon, making him, along with fellow crew mates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first of only 24 humans to do so...

, Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

 
United States
April 3, 1966 Artificial satellite of another celestial body
Celestial Body
Celestial Body is a Croatian film directed by Lukas Nola. It was released in 2000....

 
Luna 10
Luna 10
Luna 10 was a Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10.The Luna 10 spacecraft was launched towards the Moon from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. It was the first artificial satellite of the Moon...

 
- Soviet Union
December 21–27, 1968 Humans to leave the Earth's influence, orbiting the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 
Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

 
Borman
Frank Borman
Frank Frederick Borman, II is a retired NASA astronaut and engineer, best remembered as the Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon, making him, along with fellow crew mates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first of only 24 humans to do so...

, Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

, Anders
William Anders
William Alison Anders is a former United States Air Force officer, NASA astronaut, businessman, and engineer. He is, along with Apollo 8 crewmates Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, one of the first three persons to have left Earth orbit and traveled to the Moon .-Biography:Anders was born to Arthur...

United States
July 20, 1969 Human to walk on the Moon Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 
Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 
United States
April 19, 1971 Space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 
Salyut 1
Salyut 1
Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days...

 
- Soviet Union
July 20, 1976 Pictures from the surface of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 
Viking 1
Viking 1
Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. It was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and perform its mission, and until May 19, 2010 held the record for the second longest Mars surface mission of 6 years and 116 days .- Mission :Following...

 
- United States
April 12, 1981 Reusable orbital spaceship Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 
Young, Crippen
Robert Crippen
Robert Laurel Crippen is an engineer, retired United States Navy Captain and a former NASA astronaut. He flew on four Space Shuttle missions, including three as commander...

 
United States
February 19, 1986 Long-duration space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 
Mir
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

 
- Soviet Union
November 2, 2000 Resident crew Expedition 1
Expedition 1
Expedition 1, or Expedition One, was the first long-duration stay on the International Space Station . The three-person crew stayed aboard the station for 136 days, from November 2000 to March 2001. It was the beginning of an uninterrupted human presence on the station which still continues, as of...

 (International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

)
- International

Earlier spaceflights


The Space Age might also be considered to have begun much earlier than October 4, 1957, because on October 3, 1942, a German A4
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

 rocket, a prototype version of the V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 program, reached space. It thus became the first man-made object to enter space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

, albeit only briefly. Since this flight was undertaken in secrecy, it wasn't public knowledge for many years afterwards. Further, the German launch, as well as the subsequent sounding rocket
Sounding rocket
A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary, where to sound is to throw a weighted line from a ship into...

 tests performed in both the United States and the Soviet Union during the late 1940s and early 1950s, were not considered significant enough to start a new age because they did not reach orbit. Having a rocket powerful enough to reach orbit meant that a nation had the ability to place a payload anywhere on the planet, or to use another term, possessed an inter-continental ballistic missile. The fact that after such a development nowhere on the planet was safe from a nuclear warhead is why the orbit standard is used to define when the space age started.

See also


  • Space exploration
    Space exploration
    Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

  • Space Race
    Space Race
    The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

  • Spacecraft
    Spacecraft
    A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

  • Human spaceflight
    Human spaceflight
    Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

  • Space probe
    Space probe
    A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

  • Information Age
    Information Age
    The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously...

  • Atomic Age
    Atomic Age
    The Atomic Age, also known as the Atomic Era, is a phrase typically used to delineate the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear bomb Trinity on July 16, 1945...

  • Googie architecture
    Googie architecture
    Googie architecture is a form of modern architecture, a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by car culture and the Space and Atomic Ages....

    (space age design movement)

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