Space Exploration

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This years Engineering Expo theme is Space Exploration. Click on a name to learn more!

The first monkeys to survive the flight into space on May 28, 1959. Their capsule landed 1700 miles downrange from the Eastern Space Missile Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and they were successfully recovered. The accomplishment and information gained from Able and Miss Baker would lead to human spaceflight later on.

On April 12, 1961, the first human made his way into space. Russian cosmonaut Gagarin completed a 108-minute orbital flight in the Vostok 1 spacecraft. This flight was during a time when the United States and Soviet Union were competing for tech supremacy in space.

The first American astronaut launched into space on May 5, 1961 on the Mercury-Redstone rocket. Ten years later, Shepard became the fifth man to walk on the moon and the first to play lunar golf. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

Virgil "Gus" Grissom was a NASA astronaut who flew twice in space and was selected to command the first Apollo manned mission on July 21, 1961. Grissom's first flight assignment was piloting Liberty Bell 7, which flew a 15-minute, 37-second suborbital hop, becoming the second American in space. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

Glenn was the third American in space, and the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times aboard the Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. Went back into space in 1998 to become the oldest person to venture into space at 77 years old. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

On May 24, 1962, aboard his spacecraft Aurora 7, Carpenter’s primary goal was to determine whether an astronaut could work in space. This three-orbit mission was a major stepping stone towards a lunar landing. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

On June 16, 1963, the first woman traveled into space, Soviet cosmonaut launched a solo mission on Vostok 6 spending over 70 hours orbiting earth.

Cooper circled Earth 22 times in the space capsule Faith 7, completing the sixth and last of the Mercury crewed space flights on May 15, 2963. Later, he commanded Gemini 5 on an eight-day endurance mission, becoming the first person to make two orbital flights. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

Armstrong commanded Apollo 11, NASA’s first manned mission to the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon, saying the famous words, ‘That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Slayton was launched as the first Apollo Docking Module Pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project on July 15, 1975. The flight culminated in the first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts, when two days later Apollo and Soyuz 19 met and docked over Europe. (One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)

The first American woman and youngest American to enter space, Ride launched on the Challenger on mission STS-7 on June 18, 1983. Ride was an astrophysicist and astronaut.

Bluford was the first African American to travel into space on August 30, 1983. His adventure took off aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.

Jemison was the first African American woman in space on September 12, 1992. She lifted off in the space shuttle Endeavor.

Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle, the Discovery, on February 3, 1995. That was NASA's first mission to the Russian space station Mir. Later in 1999, Collins took the helm of the Columbia, becoming the first female space shuttle commander.

China became the third nation to send a human into space on October 15, 2003. Astronaut Yang Liwei spent over 21 hours in space, orbiting Earth 14 times before returning.

Whitson became the first woman to command the International Space Station on April 19, 2008. She also holds the American record for cumulative days in space – over 376 days.