Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Space exploration
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Space exploration

Space exploration is the physical exploration of outer-earth objects and generally anything that involves the technologies, science, and politics regarding space endeavors.

The idea of sending an object to space was conceived in the minds of many science fiction authors hundreds of years before it was actually feasible. Some of these works even included various descriptions of exactly how that would be done. During the 20th century, with the development of adequate propulsion technologies, stronger and lighter materials and other technological and scientific breakthroughs, the idea of outer-earth missions was no longer a dream, but a viable practice.

From a spaceflight perspective, the definition of space usually used is that space begins 100 km (62 miles) above Earth's surface. The United States sometimes uses a 50 mile definition.

One can distinguish the sub-orbital spaceflight and the orbital spaceflight (cf. Difference between sub-orbital and orbital spaceflights). As for sub-orbital flights, on October 3, 1942 an A4 rocket, a prototype for the German V2 rocket bomb, became the first successful launch of an object into space. The first organisms launched into space were fruit flies and corn seeds aboard a U.S.-launched V2 rocket in July, 1946. Another milestone was achieved on May 17, 2004 when Civilian Space eXploration Team launched the GoFast Rocket on a suborbital flight, the first amateur space flight. On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first private human spacecraft.

Achieving orbit is a prerequisite for going anywhere else, such as to the Moon or Mars. The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik I mission on October 4, 1957. Laika became the first animal in orbit on November 3, 1957. The first orbital flight made by a human being was Vostok 1, carrying Yuri Gagarin on April 12 1961.

See also: