Space Missions Throughout Time

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA, a branch of the US federal government, are responsible for some of the most groundbreaking space missions in the recent decades. In their quest to de-mystify the solar system, NASA has achieved great success, but have also suffered their fair share of failures. Let’s take a look at some of their most notable expeditions.

Mercury-Redstone 3

Mercury-Redstone 3, also known as Freedom 7, was the first rocket launched into space from the U.S.A with an astronaut on board. The Americans were preceded in launching a manned flight by the Soviet Union just one week earlier, who sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit on the Vostok 1, though this did not detract from their own achievement too dramatically. The flight lasted 15 minutes, and its purpose was to prove that the pilot, Alan Shepard, could withstand both the gravitational forces of the launch and the atmospheric re-entry upon his return.

Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was launched on December 21, 1968, and was the first manned rocket to orbit the Moon, returning safely to Earth later. The crew was comprised of Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, the latter of whom was responsible for ‘Earthrise’ – the first ever photograph taken of Earth by a human and not a machine.

Apollo 11

Apollo 11 was the first manned flight launched into space to land an astronaut (or, in this case, two) on the Moon. The rocket landed on July 20th, 1969. Six hours later, mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk the surface of the moon, shortly followed by pilot Buzz Aldrin. Together, they spent just over 2 hours on the moon’s surface, collecting data to bring back to Earth.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was the third manned spaceflight sent to orbit with the intention of landing on the moon. Commanded by James Lovell, of Apollo 8 fame, the mission was aborted after the explosion of an oxygen tank that caused power loss, water shortage and other such hardships; though the crew managed to return safely to Earth.

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