Why Space? How does space exploration and an organization like NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration) benefit the United States? The formation of NASA to monitor and explore space has served the United States by supplying us with advancements in medicine, military defense, consumer products and the citizens of all participating countries a sense of pride in their countries. Space exploration has evolved from being a source of bragging rights during the cold war to a tool to develop faster ways of communication and scientific breakthroughs that are used to cure and/or prevent diseases. The United States has become a world power by using NASA to develop ways to defend the USA as well as benefit the inhabitants of the world. Early History After the end of W.W.I the United States did not think much about space travel. But as soon as the USSR launched Sputnik I in 1958, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, the USA quickly began to attempt to create a satellite of their own.
Before the United States could create a satellite, the Soviets announced that they made and launched their second satellite named Sputnik II, it was the first biological spacecraft. After the launching of Sputnik II the US felt tremendous pressure to launch its first satellite. The United States quickly launched Explorer I, the first American satellite in space, Explorer was created to measure cosmic rays and micrometeorites in earths atmosphere. The US then launched another satellite named Vanguard I to measure the amounts of radiation in outer-space. The launching of satellites by both the US and USSR would soon lead to manned space travel.
After the launching of Vanguard I by the USAF, the US realized that they would need a federal organization to regulate space travel. In 1959 the US government created NASA to maintain and expand the United States interests in space travel. Not long after the creation of NASA, the organization quickly experiment with space suits and space vessels to prepare for sending a man into space. The Soviets soon announced that they launched a satellite called Luna II that was meant to take the first close-up pictures of the sun. It was the first rocket to leave the earths gravitational field. The US continued to work on their goal of sending a man into space by selecting and beginning to train seven men in May 1959.
These first seven American astronauts were named the Mercury 6. While the United States was selecting astronauts to start their space program the Soviets were already taking pictures of the moon and planning to get ready to send a man to the moon. 1961-1970 Freedom 7 was launched on May 5, 1961 carrying a Mercury 6 astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. The rocket climbed 302 miles into the air making the ship and Shepard the first American astronaut to fly into space. The United States briskly went to work, trying to sent another American into space. John Glenn was selected as the Mercury 6 astronaut that would orbit the earth.
On February 20, 1962 the US was ready to surpass the USSR in the field of human space exploration. John Glenn successfully was launched into orbit around the earth, becoming the first human to do so. He completed three orbits around the earth in his Friendship 7 spacecraft. The mission was extremely successful for the US and NASA. After the mission the United States became the leading country in the field of space exploration.
The US started to get ready for further missions into space by reaching new breakthroughs in space suit technology. The manned orbiting laboratory suit of 1963 was an Air Force refinement for the Gemini spacecraft missions. The manned orbiting laboratory was designed to carry two or more astronauts into space at the same time for an extended period of time. The suit was supposed to allow the astronauts to be able to move around the Gemini spacecraft freely. However the suit was made obsolete when the Project Gemini lightweight suit was developed in 1965.
The space suit was designed to be easily removed during flight to aid to the astronauts comfort, making it easier for the astronauts to tolerate long journeys. These suits were of great value to the Apollo missions. The Apollo missions were meant to eventually land a man on the moon. While Soviet space program was faltering because the government refused to allocate the needed funds to support the Soviet Cosmonauts, the United States was getting ready to send a man to the moon. The first ten Apollo missions were to survey the moon and the gravity fields around it to make planning a landing easier once these missions were accomplished the US prepared to execute the mission to the moon. The three astronauts chosen to go to the moon were Commander Neil Armstrong, Pilot Edwin Buzz Aldrin, and Pilot Michael Collins.
These three men would be solely responsible for opening up the universe to all mankind(document). On July 16, 1969 the rocket launched off of the launch pad and out of earths atmosphere. The launch was a complete success and everything went according to plan. Three days later the crew approached the moon and started to orbit around. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin departed from the main rocket in the lunar module and landed on the Sea of Tranquillity on the moon. The module landed and Commander Armstrong climbed down the ladder and said the words (insert smallstep).
The command module left the moons orbit three days later and returned to earth on July 24, 1969. Several other Apollo missions to the moon followed the Apollo 11 mission. Apollo 13 was one of the near disasters of the Apollo missions. Well into the flight one of the oxygen tanks in the service module ruptured and damaged the wiring with an electrical shock. The crew had to orbit around the moon to make it back to earth. Running dangerously low on oxygen in the cabin the crew stayed in the lunar module that was not damaged by the electrical short in the circuits.
The crew of the Apollo 13 mission returned home to a heros welcome even thought their mission was not completed. 1971-1980 Apollo 15 was the first of the longer, expedition moon landings. The astronauts could cover more territory on the moon because of a new invention created by NASA scientists, the lunar rover. The astronauts brought back one of the prize artifacts of the Apollo missions, a piece of ancient crust called Genesis Rock. Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions to the moon.
This mission was the first that took along a scientist, Harrison Schmitt. On May 14 NASA launched SpaceLab 1, which was the first purely scientific space mission. The mission was to experiment with medicines and other experimental drugs in zero gravity. The mission led to many breakthroughs in medical technology. A year after SpaceLab 1 was launched the US prepared to launch SpaceLab 2.
SpaceLab 2 suffered from many technical flaws in the design. After intense repairs by extravehicular activity the Lab was repaired and the US had another medical lab in space. In late 1977 NASA launched 2 Voyager rockets. Voyager had larger and more powerful titan/centaur rockets that boosted it away from the gravitational pull of earth. Voyager was propelled from 25 to 30,000 miles per hour on its way to Jupiter to take pictures of the mysterious planet.(document) 1981-1990 In 1981, the US launched the first prototype of the new STS(Space Transportation System) series Space Shuttle.
This type of shuttle was of better use to NASA because they were reusable. Another advantage of the new reusable shuttles is that they could carry three more passengers. On November 1983 the space shuttle Columbia (STS-9) launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying astronauts John W. Young and Brewster Shaw along with 70 experiments in 5 different areas of scientific research. On June 18, 1983 Sally Ride became the first woman in space by being one of three mission specialists on the space shuttle Challenger (STS-7).
On January 28, 1986 the greatest tragedy in NASA history occurred when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in midair one minute and thirteen seconds into flight. The explosion was caused by the failure of a booster to ignite caused the ship to breakup. This disaster had such a tremendous affect on the nation that President Reagan changed his State of the Union address to a remembrance statement. reagan.webteamone.com/speeches/challenger.html The Challenger disaster resulted in the grounding of the American space program for the next two years. Later in the decade President Reagan suggested the use of military satellites to destroy atomic missiles that had been previously launched. The mission was labeled Star Wars. The creation of this program would give whoever created it an important advantage if a nuclear war would take place.
Satellites were also beginning to be used for relaying radio and television signals around the world saving stations millions of dollars and giving radio and television access to areas in the world were it was not possible to get signals. In early 1990 the Shuttle Discovery crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope which is used to look for other planets and galaxies. Immediately after the deployment of Hubble NASA found many errors in the telescope. NASA instantly went to work to fix the abnormalities in the telescope. After the errors in the telescope were made public NASA received mail that expressed discouraging feelings toward the agency for producing such an expensive telescope does not work properly.
The critics soon were silenced when the telescope was fixed and started to make discoveries in deep space including the sighting of a potentially massive black hole in galaxy M87. 1991-Present NASAs main focus in the 90s is to explore Mars. On November 7, 1996 the US launched a Mars Surveyor. The surveyor was sent to photograph images of the surface of the planet Mars. It will measure magnetic fields in the atmosphere of Mars and be able to describe what the surface of the planet is composed of, along with what the weather on the planet is like.
The Mars Rover was sent to the planet on July 6, 1996. The rover has sent back detailed pictures of the surface of Mars. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/database/www-nm c?MESURPR This information will be used on plans for future landing sites. NASA plans to use Mars for further scientific research and possible colonization. NASA also sent John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, back into space in 1998. This mission was done to experiment on the effects of space on the elderly.
This journey made Glenn the first American in space and the oldest man in space. Space exploration has been a means of giving Americans pride in their country as well as breakthroughs in the fields of science and military defense. NASA continues to lead the way in scientific research in space. Many goods produced today are products of NASA research and technology (digital phones and satellite television). NASA has made it easier for people to communicate with friends and family via the Internet.
All the goods and services that use satellites and space technology would not be present in todays society without the existence of an agency like NASA and the Space Exploration done by the United States. Works Cited Markle, Sandra. (1992). Pioneering Space. New York: Atheneum. Wright, Pearce. (1987).
The Space Race. New York: Gloucester Press. Young, C. and Radlauer, R. (1987). Voyager 1 & 2 Robots in Space.
Chicago: Chicago Press. Available: http://www.NASA.gov.