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Space Age

Space Age

Sputnik 1

The Space Age was an entirely new era ushered in by the end of the Second World War and emerging nuclear power as well as the beginning of the Cold War. The Space Age began in October of 1957 when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite, into space. This was when space exploration first became possible. The Space Age came about as the Soviet Union and the United States started competing in arms and technology as well as to see which country would make it into space first. Thus the Space Race between the Soviets and America was a vital part of the Space Age. About a month after the Soviets sent Sputnik into space, they sent the space dog Laika up into orbit.

One of the highlights of the Space Age was the Apollo program. The most famous of the Apollo aircraft is Apollo 11, which was the craft carrying Commander Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon. On that mission, Armstrong and Aldrin were the first humans to land and walk on the Moon. They were later followed by a number of other astronauts.

Probes were sent out to study many planets and their satellites, including the Voyager probes and the Viking probes. These probes are to thank for much of what we know about some of the other planets in our Solar System. One recent historic event was the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope in the early 1990’s. This enormous project cost $1.5 billion and has allowed scientists to learn much more about our Solar System as well as others.

Much of the focus of the Space Age was on the technology developed during that time period. Rockets were one of the most obvious forms of Space Age technology. They were obviously developed before 1957, but they became a focus during the Space Race. Many other technologies and materials were developed during this time and later adapted for other uses. New ceramics that can withstand the extreme heat needed for spacecrafts are just one example.

Advancements in computers were made rapidly during the Space Age. Food production was also affected during the Space Age when techniques such as freeze-drying were created. Additionally, Military technology increased drastically during the Space Age due to a number of things including the development of satellites. These new satellites provided warning systems for attack as well as greatly advancing telecommunications capabilities.

Universe Today also has articles on space exploration and space age archaeology.

If you are looking for more resources, try the Space Age timeline and Sputnik.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on the US space shuttle.

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