The first artificial satellite inaugurated the human adventure in space 60 years ago. Since then, powers like the United States and Russia have invested in missions to uncover the secrets of the universe.
‘Sputnik 1‘, the first artificial satellite in history, was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, from somewhere near the Caspian Sea. The Soviets were ahead of the United States in this first step of the space race. The vehicle, a small sphere with four antennas, measured 58 centimeters in diameter, weighed 84 kilograms and made a complete return to Earth every 96 minutes.
The first attempt of the Americans to arrive at the space was the ‘Vanguard TV-3’ on 6th of December, 1957. The rocket exploded violently a few seconds after the launch, the reason why the test was baptized like the ‘Kaputnik.’
The ‘Sputnik 2’ was the first satellite with a living being on board: the dog Laika. On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched this one, four meters high and two meters in diameter at the base, which weighed 500 kilos and had food and water in the form of a gel for the animal. Laika was expected to live close to ten days, but it is believed that it lasted no more than two days because of the temperature on board.
The Americans achieved their first success on January 31, 1958, with the ‘Explorer 1’. In the image, the creators of the satellite Wernher Von Braun, William Picketing, and James Van Allenposan pose with the device, which was launched with a rocket developed to test missile components and discovered the Van Allen radiation belts that surround the Earth.
Yuri Gagarin became the first astronaut in history on April 12, 1961, to travel to space. The Soviet, who was traveling aboard the ship ‘Vostok-1’ of 4,725 kilos, barely spent two hours in space and performed a true orbital flight, landing without setbacks.
John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, aboard the ship ‘Friendship 7’. Three decades later, at 77, he became the oldest astronaut to carry out a mission. His trip allowed NASA to study the impact of space on older people.
In 1961, President Kennedy launched a great challenge: before the decade was over, the United States would take a man to the moon. Eight years later, on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin astonished the world by placing their foot on the lunar surface after descending from the ship ‘Eagle.’