The Universe and Galaxies: The Development Of Space Travel

Discovery Space: The Development Of Space Travel


Just 12 years separated the launch of the first satellites and the first manned moon landing. Today, humanity’s presence in space is limited to near-Earth orbit, where astronauts carry out research in a weightless environment.

Meanwhile, countless satellites circle the Earth on scientific and technical missions. The farthest reaches of the solar system are still left to unmanned probes.

The Development Of Space Travel

The dream of space travel eventually became a reality through the work of far sighted pioneers. Today, spacecraft carry out many important tasks, making them an irreplaceable—if rarely seen—component of modern life.

By 1900 the mathematical groundwork for space travel had already been laid, but it took time before the concept of the rocket was taken seriously. First, solutions to key technical problems had to be found. Military forces were also interested in rocket technology. The breakthrough of large liquid-fueled rockets occurred during the Second World War, when the German A4 (V2) rockets became the first to reach the borders of space.

Although they were able to soar to heights of more than 50 miles (80 km), with a range of 185 miles (300 km), they did not significantly affect the war’s outcome. When the Second World War gave way to the Cold War, rocket technology developed rapidly as the U.S. and U.S.S.R. competed for dominance. The space age began in 1957, with the launch of the first artificial satellite into orbit. Soon after, intercontinental missiles capable of carrying atomic weapons were constructed.

The first surveillance and weather satellites were launched, followed in 1961 by the first man in orbit, Yury Gagarin. The greatest triumph of the space age came soon after: walking on the moon. Later, even as the tensions of the Cold War eased, the ability to undertake missions in space remained a key element of political and military power. Although it is not immediately obvious, the modern world depends heavily on space travel. Satellites transmit news, telephone conversations, and computer data around the world.

They assist cars with navigation, deliver weather data, and provide detailed maps of the Earth. Other satellites, such as the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, offer glimpses into the depths of the universe. Space probes and robots explore the solar system, collecting valuable information that helps us understand the universe and our place in it. At the same time, technologies are being developed that may be used in the future to build outpost civilizations on the moon and Mars.

Astronauts from many nations work together in the International Space Station. They carry out research in the weightless environment, especially in the fields of medicine, materials science, and astrophysics. Private space-travel initiatives are also underway, aiming to offer affordable technological services as well as space tourism to individuals.


The U.S. Apollo program carried people to the moon and brought them safely back to Earth. It also developed the largest and most powerful rocket ever built: the Saturn V. The huge rocket was 360 feet (110 m) long, including Its payload, lifted a mass of 120 tons into Earth orbit, and propelled the 45-ton space module with three astronauts toward the moon.

On July 20. 1969. Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mission emerged from their landing module to become the first humans to walk on the moon. Five more moon landings followed by 1972. The technological advances achieved by the Apollo space program have proved even more significant than the data it collected from the moon.