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Race to Space

  • Date Submitted: 09/25/2011 12:07 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 72.2 
  • Words: 1498
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The age of space exploration started in the 6th decade of the 20th Century. In the few years since that time, robot probes and human beings have ventured far beyond Earth’s atmosphere and discovered things far from what we could ever think possible. In the 1950s, scientists knew or thought they knew much about our solar system, but with the dawn of the space age, even the most basic ideas would be challenged by the truth of new data that spacecrafts have collected. Rather than signaling the end of civilization, the first satellite turned out to be the start of something amazing. It was the start of the space age – the time where machines and people could leave the surface of Earth to become explorers of our solar system and beyond. Our knowledge grew drastically thanks to Sputnik, the first satellite sent into space.

On October 4th, 1957, Sputnik, the first manmade object to orbit the Earth, was launched by the U.S.S.R. and remained in orbit until January 4th, 1958.   Sputnik, meaning traveling with a traveler, was shaped like a beach ball with four antennas sticking out of its sides. It had a diameter of 22.8 inches, and it weighed about 183 pounds. To put Sputnik into orbit, the Soviets used a powerful rocket to raise it high above Earth and shoot it parallel to the ground at a very high speed. At 100 miles up, a satellite must travel at 17,600 miles per hour and roll as it orbits just to keep itself up and keep the forces balanced. It went into an egg shaped orbit that could go 500 miles out of our atmosphere and as low as 140 miles. It circled the globe every 96 minutes, and 15 times a day, and it came over the U.S. seven times a day. Sputnik’s orbit helped learn about the density of our atmosphere at different altitudes and it discovered many things to help us learn more about the Universe. But three months after the launch, Sputnik was growing old and it was destroyed during its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The Soviets called the satellite a...


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