The Space Age began more than 60 years ago, as the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957. That started the U.S.-Soviet “space race.” And what are the new frontiers scientists are exploring today?
CGTN’s Frances Read takes a look at the amazing journey of space exploration.
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The Sputnik One was the world’s first artificial satellite – 83 kilograms and the size of a beach ball. It took about 98 minutes to orbit the earth, but the Soviet Union’s satellite changed history.
“You are hearing the actual signals transmitted by the earth’s circling satellites, one of the great scientific feats of the age.” That’s the archive newsreader voice six decades ago.
Fewer than three months after the launch of the Sputnik, the Americans launched their own satellite — Explorer One. It made one orbit every 114 minutes, outfitted with a cosmic ray detector.
“Few events in American history have been so awaited prayed for, worked for, as the successful launching of Explorer One. We are no longer earthbound – soon we will explore boundaries beyond our tiny world.” That is the newsreader voice for the U.S. satellite.
“Explorer One was also the first successful space science experiment and discovered the Van Allen radiation belts,” Erik Conway, a historian from NASA Jet Propulsion Lab says. “It started the progress of earth orbit to study the earth, heliophysics experiments to study the sun, and eventually planetary exploration to understand the solar system.”
The original Explorer One satellite was built in Pasadena, California. At the time, it was a great feat of science and engineering. Now they’re looking to push space exploration even further.
60 years later, countries are working cooperatively in space, to send humans to Mars as well as other planets and moons.
“NASA has lots of great things happening in the next decade or so,” Sue Smrekar, a NASA scientist says. “We have a new launch vehicle which is coming online where we’ll be able to put huge payloads in space. One of the things we might do is to use those vehicles to explore Europa.”
It’s the imagination of scientists starting in the 1950’s that led to the rocket science of today.
But what may seem like a giant leap for mankind now, may be just another small step in the space age as we’ll eventually know it.