This picture was taken on March 6, 1969. It shows the Apollo 9 commander, James McDivitt, aboard the command module.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
History of Human Spaceflight
There are two type of space missions. Some missions are done by spacecraft that
are machines or robots. Other missions have people on the space ships. We call
the missions with people onboard "human spaceflight" missions.
The first astronauts
and cosmonauts (the Russian word for astronaut) were test pilots who were
very familiar with flying in fast and dangerous planes! The first human
being to travel into space was Yuri Gagarin (USSR, 1961), followed a month
later by the US astronaut Alan Shepard.
Once we found out that humans could travel in space, a "space race"
quickly developed between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United
States main interest was to land on the moon. The Soviet Union was more
interested in setting endurance records and doing scientific research.
Through a sequence of human and
space mission programs, including Mercury,
Gemini, and Apollo
, the United States finally
in landing the first people on the Moon in 1969
with Apollo 11
In 1973, the first American space laboratory
shot into orbit, and scientific experiments began to take place. Between
the United States scheduled only one or two human spaceflight missions.
Finally in 1981, the
United States revamped their human spaceflight program with several new missions
brand new spacecraft design, the space shuttle. The space shuttle is a
In the meantime, the Soviets made several missions testing out new spacecraft
became the "first" to create a space station. In 1971, the cosmonauts spent
several days aboard the first
space station. The cosmonauts continued to spend time on several space station
then, breaking several endurance records in space. Laboratory experiments were
conducted on all of these space stations, and the Soviets made great strides
expanding our knowledge of space, medicine, and engineering.
Now both countries participate in the International Space Station. It opened its doors to its first visitors in November 2000.
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