Introduction to Space Exploration
1957 the first object to be put into space was launched. This was Sputnik, a
small satellite that orbited Earth. Since then, more and more objects have been
put into space to provide us with information about the planets, the
stars and the universe. Beforehand, the only way to
learn about space was to look at the sky
from Earth. Telescopes enabled people to look further
into space at more distant objects, but the best
way of finding out about them was by visiting them.
In the years that have followed since Sputnik made its journey into space, human
beings have sent space crafts to many of the objects in the Solar System.
Unmanned space crafts have landed on the Moon,
Mars, Venus and even
of the moons of Saturn. They have flown closely past all of the planets and sent
back detailed images and lots of data about them. They have also visited
asteroids and comets and made observations of the
Sun. As you sit there reading
this now, there are currently rovers exploring Mars, a space craft on its way to
Pluto and two space crafts at the very edges of the Solar System.
In addition, human beings have also flown into space. Twelve astronauts in the
Apollo mission have walked on the
Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, and a small
number of people are currently living on a space station in orbit of
Earth. The space shuttle was a
vehicle which could take astronauts into space and back at
regular intervals and was used up to 2011.
All of the missions into space have provided human beings with masses of images
and information about the objects that you can see in the sky at night, and even
about objects which are so small and tiny that they can't be seen from
This is information that would simply be impossible to obtain by just looking at
the objects using telescopes from Earth. But this is only the beginning of the
age of space exploration! As technology gets better and human beings get even
more adventurous, more and more space crafts will be put into space to make even
more discoveries, going further away from Earth and deeper into space. Maybe the
first human being to visit Mars is living today and will take a trip there in
the not too distant future.