As space missions are launched to explore beyond Earth, we learn more every day about the moon, the planets in the solar system, and other galaxies.

Humanity’s adventure in exploring the depths of space began when the USSR launched the artificial satellite “Sputnik 1” into Earth orbit 67 years ago.

Since the launch of the first artificial satellite in 1957, the solar system and space have been extensively studied and thousands of planets and stars have been discovered.

Here are some news in the field of space exploration and the developments in this field…


First person in space

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space on April 12, 1961, orbiting the Earth for 108 minutes on the space shuttle Vostok 1.

On the other hand, in the same year, the US aerospace agency NASA first sent monkeys and then astronaut Alan Shepard into space with the shuttles developed as part of the “Mercury Project”. But Shepard couldn’t reach Earth’s orbit.

After this attempt, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to reach Earth orbit on February 20, 1962.

Before the construction of space stations began, Russian cosmonaut Valeri Bykovsky set the record for the longest solo flight into space with the Vostok 5 spacecraft from June 14 to 19, 1963, lasting 4 days and 23 hours.


“One small step for man, one giant step for humanity”

The United States sent Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong, who made history when he became the first man to walk on the moon, was also remembered with the words “One small step for man, one giant leap for humanity” as he walked on the moon.

While 12 people landed on the lunar surface as part of the NASA “Apollo” program, the program ended in 1972 with the “Apollo 17” mission.

After Gagarin, the first man in space, and Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, steps towards long-term space missions began.

In addition, before the creation of space stations, the longest flight lasted 18 days, which was considered a record in 1970. At that time, prolonged stay in space was not possible due to the spacecraft’s small size, inability to store basic necessities, and limited capabilities such as medical monitoring.

The first experimental space station was Salyut 1 and was founded in 1971. The record for the longest stay in Salyut, where many long-term missions took place in the 1970s and 1980s, was 237 days.

The Mir station, the first module of which was sent into space by the USSR in 1986, was the scene of numerous long-term missions during its 15 years of operation, and the record for a single stay of people in space in space travel rose to 438 days. This record was set by cosmonaut Valeri V. Polyakov in March 1995.


“Venera 7”

“Venera 7”, one of the two spacecraft launched by the USSR to Venus, was the first spacecraft to land softly on another planet and transmit data from there to Earth when it landed on Venus in December 1970.

The mission’s goal was to provide data from Venus’ atmosphere, land on the planet’s surface, and continue data transmission after landing.


“Traveller”

NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes, whose primary mission was to explore Jupiter and Saturn, were launched in 1977.

While Voyager 1 provided detailed images of Jupiter and its moons and revealed new information about the planet’s atmosphere, the Great Red Spot and the ring system, Voyager 2 made history as the only spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune.

Vehicles also involved in interstellar space exploration continue to provide information to Earth.


Mars missions

Mariner 9, launched by the United States in May 1971 to collect information about Mars, was the first space probe to enter Mars orbit and explore the planet’s volcanoes and large canyons.

“Viking 1” and “Viking 2” were the first space probes to land on the surface of Mars in 1976 as part of a NASA mission.

Exploration vehicles have been operating on the surface for years, collecting data about the Martian environment and searching for signs of life.

The vehicles, which took many photos, examined the chemistry of the Martian surface and allowed testing of microorganisms found in Martian dust called “regolith.”

NASA also found evidence that there was once water on the surface of Mars using some spacecraft sent as part of the Mars Rover program.


Construction of the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS provides a platform for interdisciplinary international studies where scientists can study the effects of long-term space flights on human physiology and psychology. The crew remaining on the ISS has continued to work on a rotational basis for almost 20 years.

The first long-term crew members of the ISS, William M. Shepherd, Yuri P. Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev, arrived at the ISS on November 2, 2000. On March 10, 2001, the crew changed and Yuri V. Usachev, James S. Voss and Susan J. Helms arrived on the ISS with the Expedition 2 mission.

NASA astronaut Christina H. Koch became the woman with the longest space flight in February 2020 with her 328-day mission.

The Russian cosmonaut Gennady I. Padalka holds the title of the person who traveled into space most individually. Padalka, who was on Mir once and on the ISS four times, spent a total of 878 days in space. The record for the longest total stay in space was held by Russian cosmonaut Padalka with 878 days.

With 675 days, US astronaut Peggy A. Whitson is one of the people who have spent the longest time in space.

The NASA record for the longest single stay in space belongs to astronaut Frank Rubio with 371 days.

The Expedition 70 mission is currently continuing on the ISS. The 7-member Expedition 70 team, which launched its mission on September 27, 2023, includes Andreas Mogensen, Jasmin Moghbeli, Furukawa Satoshi, Loral O’Hara, Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.


Space telescopes

In addition to missions related to space exploration, especially the ISS, space telescopes also play an important role in exploring the depths of the universe and expanding human knowledge.

The Kepler Space Telescope, which NASA launched in 2009, discovered planets orbiting other stars outside the solar system.

The Hubble Space Telescope has been providing humanity with images and information about space since its launch in 1990.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched into space on December 25, 2021, is attempting to find the first galaxies formed in early times. JWST’s notable discoveries include many stars, exoplanets and young galaxies.

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