Space Flight Precursors (03:52)
Author Cyrano de Bergerac predicted solar and lunar colonies, and proposed connecting squibs to crafts for lift. Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky saw the importance of liquid propellants for rockets. Hermann Oberth published "The Rocket into Planetary Space," prompting civilian interest in the technology.
Peenemunde Innovations (05:06)
In 1937, the Nazis set up a secret lab to develop weaponized rockets; Wernher Von Braun invented the A-4 prototype. In June 1944, Hitler released the V-2 and V-4, capable of striking British targets. In 1945, Germany surrendered to the United States.
Cold War Advancements (03:18)
In the early fifties, Russians and Americans focused on developing long range nuclear rockets. Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed 1957 to 1958 the International Geophysical Year, initiating international efforts to study Earth. Von Braun’s Juno booster successfully propelled the United States’ Explorer One into space in January 1958.
Space Race: Manned Missions (04:50)
In 1958, Eisenhower announced establishment of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, selecting Air Force pilots for Project Mercury. Russians assembled a team of cosmonauts, conducting extensive physiological tests; they initiated the Luna Program. On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first man to reach Earth's orbit.
Space Race: Initial Milestones (02:46)
In 1961, Commander Alan Shepard was the first American in space. In February 1962, Mercury Six orbited Earth three times. Russia sent Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, in 1963.
Space Race: Lunar Surface Landing (03:19)
Russia’s multi seated spacecraft took flight in 1964; in 1965, Alexei Leonov took the first spacewalk from Voskhod Two. Gemini carried Gus Grissom and John Young into orbit. The unmanned Luna Nine landed on the moon in 1966; the Ranger and Surveyor series transmitted pictures from its surface.
Space Race: Setbacks (01:42)
Internal rivalry delayed Russian progress; in April 1967, the Soyuz malfunctioned on maiden flight, killing cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. In 1967, the United States’ Apollo One caught fire and exploded during testing; all astronauts on board were killed.
Space Race: Moon Landing (08:50)
Apollo 7 launched in October 1968, manned by Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham to test the design of the new command module. Russians achieved space docking in 1969; later that year, Americans launched Apollo 11, and landed humans on the lunar surface.
Space Race: Ending an Era (04:09)
Russia continued unmanned programs, using the Lunokhod vehicle to remotely explore the lunar surface. Apollo 13 experienced problems with its service module oxygen tank; the crew spent six days in space before landing. Apollo 17 was the last of the United States’ moon missions.
Space Living (05:48)
The United States launched the Skylab missions in the 1970s; cosmonauts on the Salyut Seven stayed aboard a record 237 days. In the late 1970s, satellites were being utilized, and Americans developed the reusable space shuttle. In 1988, The Challenger exploded after liftoff, killing the crew.
Soviet Modular Station (01:56)
Russians launched Mir in 1986; it was the first permanently manned space station, with cosmonauts spending more than a year on board. A fire, then a wreck with an unmanned cargo ship left the crew with only emergency power in 1997.
Solar System Exploration (04:13)
In the 1970s, Russian probes transmitted data back from Mar's orbit. In 1975, Viking One and Two placed landers on the moon and sent back color photographs. Russia’s Venera program and the American Pioneer series explored Venus. Launched in 1972, Pioneer 10 left the solar system in 1983.
Credits: To The Moon And Beyond (00:42)
Credits: To The Moon And Beyond
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