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In 1958 a group known as The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded. The first probe to escape Earth's gravity was the Soviet LUNA 1, launched on Jan. 2, 1959. It passed the Moon and continued into interplanetary space. The U.S. probe Pioneer 4, launched two months later, followed the same path. Later Soviet probes either hit the Moon or passed it and took photographs of the hidden far side, relaying them back to Earth.
The first man to travel to space was Yuri Gagarin. History was made on April 12, 1961, when he successfully orbited the earth in the Votsok 1. His flight lasted one hour and 48 minutes and as he circled the earth, his speed was about 17,000 mph on the Votsok 1. Following this mission, Gagarin was killed in a test airplane crash .
Neil Armstrong was the first person to ever land on the moon. Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, he graduated from college in 1955 and joined the NASA team. In 1962, he became the first civilian to enter into an astronaut training program. In 1969, Armstrong headed the Apollo 11 mission, becoing the first human being to set foot on the moon. Other astronauts the accompanied Armstrong on this mission were Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins. In 1971, Armstrong became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
Valentina Vladimora Nikolayeva Tereshkova was the first woman to enter into space. She joined a Soviet training program in the year 1961 and two years later she successfully orbited the earth 48 times in the Votsok 6.
The Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. It was an aluminum sphere, 58 cm (23 in) in diameter, weighing 83 kg (184 lb). Its orbited around the earth lasted 96.2 minutes. At the end of 57 days the satellite returned to earth's atmosphere and was destroyed by aerodynamic frictional heat.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were both spacecrafts that were launched to Jupiter. Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977, and Voyager 1 was launched 2 weeks later on September 5, 1977.
Voyager 1 made it to Jupiter before Voyager 2 because it took a shorter and quicker route. Photos Voyager 1 and 2 took proved a couple of new facts about Jupiter. One of them is that Jupiter has a ring around it, and also that Jupiter's moon has a giant active volcano that spits out sulfur compounds. The moons around Jupiter were found to be icy, rocky balls, with fractures and craters.
When Voyager 1 and 2 were heading back they got a few pictures of Saturn's rings. These pictures proved that instread of the 3 or 4 rings that were orginally thought to be around Saturn, there are actually thousands of concentric ringlets.
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, also known as NEAR, is a spaceship whose mission it is to explore an asteroid called Eros. The journey time to Eros is approximately 35 months and the cost for launching and building is $122 million. Four years of this operation will cost $40 million. Eros was picked for a couple of reasons and one of them was that it might help solve the mystery of why most meteorites do not resemble their bigger brothers in space.
In the years to come, NASA will continue to launch new satellites and explore the great unknown. Some of these satellites will be so big that they'll have to be assembled in outer space. There is still lots more to discover.