History of Space Exploration
Space exploration by mankind is but natural. The infiniteness of outer space has been visible to human eyes even before the outset of human civilization. Man has been gazing at the sky with astonishment since time immemorial and when this gaze became exploration is difficult to know. The first man explored outer space with naked eyes, later on using a telescope, and in the twentieth-century man started exploring outer space physically. Physical exploration started with unmanned spacecraft leaving Earth’s atmosphere for outer space but manned missions followed. Technological advancements combined with the perseverance and willpower of mankind made this possible.
Motivation for physical exploration of space
- Greed is the biggest motivator for any exploration. Exploiting natural resources has become human nature. Mankind wants to explore outer space to exploit natural resources maybe. Natural resources present on earth are depleted due to unnatural exploitation by mankind. After Europeans discovered the Americas they started the unnatural exploitation of abundant natural resources there and depleted natural resources there too. Now Mankind’s urge for unnatural exploitation of natural resources is taking it to outer space. Man believes that natural resources in outer space are endless.
- Curiosity about extraterrestrial life is another big motivator. Many spacecraft have been sent in outer space in search of extraterrestrial life. It is difficult to believe that we are all alone in this vast universe. Initially, the human mind was fixated on the urge to find multicellular organisms like us or plants and animals on earth but now the attempt is to find any type of life, even microbial. Till now attempts to find any extraterrestrial life have not succeeded.
- Finding alien land for human habitation is another motivation. Europeans discovered the Americas and inhabited it. Likewise, they want to imperialize alien land in outer space. Advancements in science and technology can make this possible. Many space programs have been designed to find Earth-like planets.
Benefits of space exploration
- Health care improvement – Space travel of humans can help understand the human body better. The technology behind space robots was used to develop surgical robots and robots with the capability of performing biopsies and detecting breast cancer.
- Everyday life has been impacted hugely by the physical exploration of space. GPS technology, accurate weather forecasts, telecom, assistance in agriculture, etc. are some eventualities of space exploration.
- Space exploration has ended up creating an atmosphere for the launch of satellites that help protect the environment of our planet.
- Space exploration also gave a fillip to space technology that can enhance safety on Earth by warning about impending natural disasters, assisting rescue operations, etc.
- Preparing the world for misuse of space technology in wars is another benefit. It is believed that space technology can play a vital role in wars of the future and it is important to take remedies. Space wars are a distant possibility but if all that happens then space technology will help. All space technology has developed thanks to the space exploration urge of mankind.
It all started with the launch of Sputnik 1 which was an unmanned Soviet spacecraft. Sputnik 2 was another unmanned spacecraft with a dog onboard. Even after the launch of the first manned spacecraft, unmanned spacecraft have been launched with regularity. All satellites have been launched using unmanned spacecraft.
Vostok 1 was the first manned spacecraft launched with Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin onboard. Many other manned spacecraft were launched including Apollo 11 which took Neil Armstrong to the moon.
Today international space station is manned by astronauts from different nations.