Exploring seems to be in human’s DNA. The same is true for our fascination with space. For centuries now, we have looked up into the sky and wondered what lies beyond Earth. Are we alone in the universe? Is it only a matter of time before we make contact with extraterrestrial forces? Will we colonize other planets?
Indeed, humanity’s interest in space has been universal and enduring. There’s something in us, some innate characteristic, that drives us to explore the unknown, find answers to our questions, discover new worlds, and go beyond scientific and technical limits. It is because of this trait that we have been able to transform our society for the better. Not only that, but we have also managed to go somewhere over the rainbow and see what lies there.
What’s more, space explorations are what connects people from all walks of life, regardless of their nationality, race, or religion. Take the International Space Station, for instance. This project brought together five space agencies that conduct scientific research we all can benefit from. The universe is a magical place, indeed.
Curiosity and exploration will forever remain a part of the human spirit. And we can’t wait to see what else we will discover while investigating the place where no one can hear you scream.
In the meantime, we decided to take a closer look at humans in space. That is, this article will mention the most important moments in space exploration history.
Let’s see which events made us hold our breath and brought joy into our lives.
October 4, 1957: The First Artificial Earth Satellite
The course of history changed on October 4, 1957. That day the U.S.S.R. successfully launched Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite. This event dared nations to dream big and kickstarted the history of humans in space in years to come. That’s right, it was the Sputnik I satellite that proved we could indeed reach space with state-of-the-art technology and advanced solutions.
Sputnik I was the size of a beach ball, yet it managed to enter Earth’s orbit. The satellite spent 98 minutes orbiting Earth on its elliptical path — an achievement that was widely televised around the world. It continued its journey around Earth for three more weeks before its batteries died.
Furthermore, the U.S.S.R.’s launch of Sputnik I exerted a major impact, introducing new political, technological, and scientific developments to the world. This event marked the beginning of the space age and the famous competition between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
Which other moments are worth mentioning? You’ll find out in our article about humans in space!
April 12, 1961: The First Man in Space
We can’t talk about the history of humans in space without mentioning the man who inspired many astronauts. Of course, we’re talking about Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin whose name will forever be engraved in the hearts of space enthusiasts. And rightfully so.
When other people dreamed about going to space, Gagarin wasn’t afraid to turn his dream into reality. He was brave enough to visit a place no other human being before him had explored. That historic journey happened on April 12, 1961. Gagarin was aboard a capsule called Vostok I which was launched into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
For those 108 minutes that Gagarin orbited Earth, the whole world stood still. Everyone knew that this moment could change the course of the future space explorations. And it did. Following his successful return, Gagarin became an international celebrity and received many medals.
Furthermore, his achievement was a blow to the Americans who wanted to be the first to send a man beyond Earth’s atmosphere. However, the U.S.S.R. beat them to it. Nevertheless, the U.S. didn’t want to admit defeat. On May 5, 1961, American astronaut Alan Shepard traveled to space as well.
But, humanity did not stop there. In years to come, there were many events that are worth mentioning while we’re listing important moments in the history of humans in space. These explorations have helped us achieve many objectives and prove that we can move beyond Earth.
March 18, 1965: The First-Ever Spacewalk
There are so many memorable moments we could mention while discussing the timeline of humans in space. By 1965, various presidents made promises to their nations regarding space explorations. Indeed, in 1962, president John F. Kennedy gave his famous “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech which talked about the effort to reach the Moon. While American were busy developing technology which could make this happen, the U.S.S.R. accomplished another impressive feat.
On March 18, 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was aboard Voskhod 2 on a crewed mission. Leonov made history that day by becoming the first person to leave his spacecraft to undertake a spacewalk. The cosmonaut’s spacewalk lasted for 12 minutes. The official records state that he was located over north-central Africa when he began his walk, while the activity ended over eastern Siberia.
Today, spacewalks occur almost regularly. However, astronauts owe everything to Alexei Leonov who blazed a trail for them.
July 20, 1969: The First Man on the Moon
Seven years after JFK delivered his speech, the U.S. was able to make good on his promise. It took years of dedicated work for Americans to beat Soviets in the space race. But it finally happened — Americans reached the Moon on July 20, 1969. This moment will forever be the most valuable event in the history of humans in space.
Apollo 11 was the human spaceflight that brought people to the Moon. The 1969 crewed lunar mission consisted of three members: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. While Collins remained in the command module, Armstrong and Aldrin moved into Eagle to reach the Sea of Tranquility on July 20.
It was Armstrong who became the first man to ever set foot on the Moon. While putting his foot down, the astronaut said: “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” And it truly was. These words will be written into history books for years to come.
After this feat, Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined Collins to start the journey back home. They landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, having spent eight days in space.
These four events were groundbreaking for the whole world. Without them, the history of humans in space wouldn’t have started. Which moment was your favorite?