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The launch of the "Sputnik 1 "satellite marked the start of the Space Age.[1]
The signals of Sputnik 1 continued for 22 days.
The "Space Shuttle lifts off on a manned mission to space.

The Space Age is a time period encompassing the activities related to the "Space Race, "space exploration, "space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. The Space Age is generally considered to have begun with "Sputnik (1957).



The Space Age began with the development of several technologies that converged with the October 4, 1957 launch of "Sputnik 1 by the "Soviet Union. This was the world's first artificial satellite, orbiting the Earth in 98.1 minutes and weighing 83 kg (183 lb). The launch of Sputnik 1 ushered a new era of political, scientific and technological achievements that became known as the Space Age.[2]

The Space Age was characterized by rapid development of new technology in a close race mostly between the "United States and the Soviet Union. Rapid advances were made in "rocketry, "materials science, "computers and other areas. Much of the technology originally developed for space applications has been "spun off and found additional uses.

The Space Age reached its peak with the "Apollo program, that captured the imagination of much of the world's population. The landing of "Apollo 11 was watched by over 500 million people around the world and is widely recognized as one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Since then, public attention has largely moved to other areas.[3]

During the 1990s funding for space related programs fell sharply as the remaining structures of the Soviet Union disintegrated and "NASA no longer had any direct competition.

Since then participation in space launches has increasingly widened to more governments and commercial interests. Since the 1990s, space exploration and space-related technologies gained a perception by many people of being commonplace.

Current period[edit]

In the early 21st century, the "Ansari X Prize competition was set up to help jump start "private spaceflight, which was won by "Space Ship One in 2004, becoming the first spaceship not funded by a government agency.[4]

Several countries now have space programs; from related technology ventures to full-fledged space programs with launch facilities.[5] There are many scientific and commercial satellites in use today, with thousands of "satellites in orbit,[6] and several countries have plans to send humans into space.[7][8]


Date First ... Mission Person(s) Country Rocket Private Company Government
June 20, 1944 Artificial object in "outer space, i.e. beyond the "Kármán line "V-2 rocket, test flight – N/A Germany V-2 - N/A Peenemünde Army Research Center
October 24, 1946 Pictures from space (105km)[9][10][11] U.S.-launched "V-2 rocket from "White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. – N/A United States V-2 - N/A Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency
February 20, 1947 "Animals in space U.S.-launched "V-2 rocket on 20 February 1947 from "White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.[12][13][14] - "fruit flies United States V-2 - N/A Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency
October 4, 1957 "Artificial satellite "Sputnik 1 – N/A Soviet Union
November 3, 1957 Animal in orbit "Sputnik 2 "Laika "the dog Soviet Union
January 2, 1959 Lunar flyby, and first spacecraft to achieve a "heliocentric orbit "Luna 1 – N/A Soviet Union
September 12, 1959 Impacted on the Lunar surface; thereby becoming the first human object to reach another celestial body "Luna 2 – N/A Soviet Union
October 7, 1959 Pictures of the "far side of the Moon "Luna 3 – N/A Soviet Union
April 12, 1961 Human in space "Vostok 1 "Yuri Gagarin Soviet Union
May 5, 1961 Manual orientation of manned spacecraft and first human space mission that landed with pilot still in spacecraft, thus the first complete human spaceflight by "FAI definitions[15][16] "Freedom 7 "Alan Shepard United States
December 14, 1962 Successful flyby of another planet ("Venus closest approach 34,773 kilometers) "Mariner 2 – N/A United States
March 18, 1965 "Spacewalk "Voskhod 2 "Alexey Leonov Soviet Union
December 15, 1965 "Space rendezvous "Gemini 6A & "Gemini 7 "Schirra, "Stafford, "Borman, "Lovell United States
March 16, 1966 Orbital docking between two spacecraft "Gemini 8 & "Agena Target Vehicle "Neil Armstrong, "David Scott United States
April 3, 1966 Artificial satellite of another "celestial body (other than the "Sun) "Luna 10 – N/A Soviet Union
December 21–27, 1968 Humans to leave the Earth's influence, orbiting the "Moon "Apollo 8 "Borman, "Lovell, "Anders United States
July 20, 1969 Humans land and walk on another celestial body ("Moon) "Apollo 11 "Neil Armstrong, "Buzz Aldrin United States
April 19, 1971 Operational "space station "Salyut 1 – N/A Soviet Union
June 7, 1971 Resident crew "Soyuz 11 ("Salyut 1) "Georgy Dobrovolsky, "Vladislav Volkov, "Viktor Patsayev Soviet Union
July 20, 1976 Pictures from the surface of "Mars "Viking 1 – N/A United States
April 12, 1981 Reusable orbital spaceship "STS-1 "Young, "Crippen United States
February 19, 1986 Long-duration "space station "Mir – N/A Soviet Union
February 14, 1990 "Photograph of the whole Solar System[17] "Voyager 1 – N/A United States
November 20, 1998 Current "space station "International Space Station – N/A United States
August 25, 2012 Artificial space probe in "interstellar space "Voyager 1 – N/A United States
November 12, 2014 Artificial probe to make a planned and soft landing on a comet ("67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko)[18] "Rosetta – N/A European Space Agency
July 14, 2015 Nation to have its space probes to explore all of the nine major planets recognized in 1981[19] "New Horizons – N/A United States
December 20, 2015 Vertical landing of an orbital rocket booster on a ground pad.[20] "Falcon 9 "flight 20 – N/A United States
April 8, 2016 Vertical landing of an orbital rocket booster on a floating platform at sea.[21] "SpaceX CRS-8 – N/A United States
March 30, 2017 Relaunch and second landing of a used orbital rocket booster.[22] "SES-10 – N/A United States

Earlier spaceflights[edit]

The Space Age might also be considered to have begun much earlier than October 4, 1957, because in June 1944, a German "V-2 rocket became the first man-made object to enter "space, albeit only briefly.[23] Some even considered that the Space Age started in March 1926, when American rocket pioneer "Robert H. Goddard launched the world's first liquid fuel rocket, though his rocket did not reach the outer space.[24]

Since the aforementioned V-2 rocket flight was undertaken in secrecy, it was not public knowledge for many years afterward. Further, the German launches, as well as the subsequent "sounding rocket tests performed in both the United States and the Soviet Union during the late 1940s and early 1950s, were not considered significant enough to start a new age because they did not reach orbit. Having a rocket powerful enough to reach orbit meant that a nation had the ability to place a payload anywhere on the planet, or to use another term, possessed an "inter-continental ballistic missile. The fact that after such a development nowhere on the planet was safe from a nuclear warhead is why the orbit standard is used to define when the space age started.[25]

Arts and architecture[edit]

Iconic rocket ship-shaped tail lights and fins on a 1959 "Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Satellite-influenced signage at the Town Motel in Birmingham, Alabama
"TWA Moonliner II replica atop the restored TWA Corporate Headquarters building in Kansas City, MO, 2007

The Space Age is considered to have influenced:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McDougall, Walter A (Winter 2010), "Shooting the Moon", American Heritage .
  2. ^ Garber, Steve. "Sputnik and The Dawn of the Space Age". History. NASA. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "National Aeronautics and Space Administration". NASA. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  4. ^ "SpaceShipOne: The First Private Spacecraft | The Most Amazing Flying Machines Ever". Space.com. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  5. ^ "Global Space Programs | Space Foundation". www.spacefoundation.org. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  6. ^ "Satellites - Active Satellites in Earth's Orbit". satellites.findthedata.com. Archived from the original on 2016-10-23. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  7. ^ "Japan Wants Space Plane or Capsule by 2022". Space.com. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  8. ^ "India takes giant step to manned space mission". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-27. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  11. ^ http://www.airspacemag.com/space/the-first-photo-from-space-13721411/
  12. ^ "Post War Space". postwar.com. 
  13. ^ "The Beginnings of Research in Space Biology at the Air Force Missile Development Center, 1946–1952". History of Research in Space Biology and Biodynamics. "NASA. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  14. ^ "V-2 Firing Tables". "White Sands Missile Range. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  15. ^ "Geek Trivia: A leap of fakes". Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "Manned Space Firsts". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2016-06-30. 
  17. ^ See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-07-21.  under "Extended Mission"
  18. ^ Chang, Kenneth (Nov 12, 2014). "European Space Agency's Spacecraft Lands on Comet's Surface". The New York Times. Retrieved Nov 12, 2014. 
  19. ^ https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/overview/index.html
  20. ^ Chang, Kenneth (December 21, 2015). "SpaceX Successfully Lands Rocket after Launch of Satellites into Orbit". "The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  21. ^ Drake, Nadia (April 8, 2016). "SpaceX Rocket Makes Spectacular Landing on Drone Ship". "National Geographic. Retrieved April 8, 2016. To space and back, in less than nine minutes? Hello, future. 
  22. ^ Grush, Loren (March 30, 2017). "SpaceX makes aerospace history with successful landing of a used rocket". "The Verge. Retrieved March 30, 2017. 
  23. ^ Schefter, James (1999), The Race: The Uncensored Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon, "New York, New York: "Doubleday, pp. 3–49, "ISBN "0-385-49253-7 
  24. ^ "Goddard launches space age with historic first 85 years ago today". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  25. ^ Schefter, James (1999), The Race: The Uncensored Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon, "New York, New York: "Doubleday, pp. 3–49, "ISBN "0-385-49253-7 

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