On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy delivered one of the most memorable State ofthe Union addresses in the history of the United States. I believe that thisnation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, oflanding a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth (http://www. cs.
umb. edu/jfklibrary,President John F. Kennedy’s Special Message to the Congress on Urgent NationalNeeds). With those words, Kennedy launched a new era of Space Exploration Essay in theUnited States. Although the National Aeronautics And Space Administration wascreated in 1958 by the National Aeronautics and Space Act (http://www. hq.
nasa. gov,Key Documents), and the Russians already launched the first satellite into spacein 1957, the US was still at a stand still on the subject. What the countryneeded was a wake-up call, and that is exactly what it got from one of the mostcelebrated speakers in its history. The new era promised much, but expectedlittle. From USAs struggle to be the dominant world power in the Cold WarEra, to the careless depletion of natural resources in the Information Age,space exploration and astronauts were and will be the real keys to the newmillennium and beyond. Before looking into the future, or even evaluating thepresent, one must look in detail at the history of the space project.Order now
Themissions that gave scientists and engineers the necessary data and experience tomake new, safer, more reliable and intricate equipment were launched long beforethere was realistic talk of sending probes to Mars. The astronauts that helpedshape the training programs, took the beatings of primitive flight tests, anddied in order to serve their country were born before World War II. And even theRussian Space Program was crucial to what the space program is today. It fueledcompetition, and provided more resources for American engineers.
Until Apollo11, they were ahead of the Americans in almost everyway, with their launch ofSputnik, a unmanned satellite in 1957, and their countless firsts in orbitingand space walks. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. Although most of themissions that have been launched have been important in their own ways, somemissions just stand out, whether it was the first step on the Moon, or the firstmission to Mars. NASAs first high profile program was Project Mercury, aneffort to learn if humans could survive in space.
It was the prelude to thelater missions, and it gave NASA the necessary data to build better, and morecomfortable ships for humans to stay in space for extended periods of time. Thefirst launch of the Mercury program was the LJ-1 on August 21, 1959. Atthirty-five minutes before launch, evacuation of the area had been proceeding onschedule. Suddenly, half an hour before launch-time, an explosive flashoccurred.
When the smoke cleared it was evident that only the capsule-and-towercombination had been launched, on a trajectory similar to an off-the-pad abort(http://www. ksc. nasa. gov, Mercury: LJ-1). The first mildly successful spacecraftlaunch occurred September 9, 1959.
Although the BJ-1 ship experienced someproblems, and the timing on some of the separation procedures was off, thecapsule made it back to earth some seven hours after lift-off. The capsuleorbited the earth for approximately thirteen minutes (Mercury: BJ-1). Mercurymission MA-5 was the first to carry live organisms into sub-orbit. Although Enos- a chimpanzee, was not a perfect substitute for a human, he served as a goodtest for the environmental controls of the capsule. He orbited the earth intotal weightlessness for over three hours and upon landing was in perfectphysical condition (Mercury: MA-5). On May 5, 1961, Freedom 7 was the firstlaunch to carry humans into space.
Alan B. Shepard, Jr. was the only crewmember,and the successful mission lasted for over 15 minutes (Mercury: MR-3). Moremanned flights from the Mercury series followed, highlighted by the Friendship7, where on February 20, 1962, John Glenn was the first American in actualorbit, and he orbited the earth three times for a little under five hours(Mercury: MA-6). The last mission from the Mercury project came on May 15, 1963,where L.
Gordon Cooper was in orbit in the Faith 7 for over a day. Totalweightless time was over thirty-four hours, and the mission was celebrated anddeemed more than successful (Mercury: MA-9). Gemini missions followed whichbuilt on the success of the Mercury flights, and basically followed the sameoutlines, except with a crew .