Aerospace Engineering

The Space Race: The Western world reacted to the launch of Sputnik with surprise, fear, and respect. Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev ordered massive funding of follow-up projects that would continue to amaze and dazzle the world.

In the United States, leaders vowed to do whatever was needed to catch up. Thus the "space race" began. More Soviet successes followed. A month after Sputnik, another satellite, Sputnik 2, carried a dog named Laika into space.

The flight proved that animals could survive the unknown effects of microgravity. In 1959, Luna 2 became the first probe to hit the moon. Later that year, Luna 3 photographed the far side of the moon, which cannot be seen from Earth. The first United States satellite was Explorer 1, launched on Jan. 31, 1958.

This satellite was followed by Vanguard 1, which was launched on March 17, 1958. These and later U.S. satellites were much smaller than their Soviet counterparts because the rockets the United States used to carry satellites were smaller and less powerful than those used by the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union's rockets gave it an early lead in the space race. Because bigger rockets would be needed for piloted lunar flight, both the United States and the Soviet Union began major programs of rocket design, construction, and testing.. ... Full Text

Cosmic Journey

What are the origin, evolution and fate of the Universe? Two of the most profound questions that all cultures, both past and present, have asked are: where did we come from and what is our destiny? Throughout history philosophers, theologians, and scientists have debated these questions. At the beginning of the 20th century, astronomers were unsure of the size of our galaxy. Generally, they believed that our solar system was near the center of the galaxy. ... Full Text

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