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Planetary Explorations: Essay

2087 words - 8 pages

Introduction:For centuries man has looked up at the sky in wonder. Primitive man drew pictures of stars on stones and walls. One of the first theories about the stars was that there was a giant dome covering the Earth, with thousands of holes punched in it, with a great fire on the other side of the dome. Later, some cultures believed that the stars and sun were gods watching over us. The universe has always been a source of questions, even before man knew what is now known. It is this innate curiousness that drives us to push our technological limits, and explore the unknown called space. Some critics say that space exploration is a money hole, but if the facts are observed, one can see that almost nothing but good can come from it.Early Rockets:The earliest rockets came from solid fuel fireworks. The earliest solid rocket fuel was a form of gunpowder, and the earliest recorded mention of gunpowder comes from China late in the third century before Christ. Bamboo tubes filled with saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal were tossed into ceremonial fires during religious festivals in hopes the noise of the explosion would frighten evil spirits. It's probable that more than a few of these bamboo tubes were imperfectly sealed and, instead of bursting with an explosion, simply went shooting out of the fire, propelled by the rapidly burning gunpowder. Some clever observer whose name is lost to history may have then begun experiments to deliberately produce the same effect as the bamboo tubes, which leaked fire.Rocket fire-arrows were used to repel Mongol invaders at the battle of Kai-fung-fu in 1232 A.D. The rockets were huge and apparently quite powerful.Early Space flights:The history of manned space flights dates back to October 1957 when Major Yuri Gagarin of erstwhile USSR went into the space in Sputnik 1. One year later the project Mercury began on October 7, 1958. On May 5, 1961 with only 15 minutes of U.S. space flight experience, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Project Mercury was American's first "small steps" toward that "Giant Leap for mankind." Project Gemini was a transitional step between the pioneering Mercury Program and the actual landing a man on the moon. The Apollo Program began with a tragedy, when fire swept through a Block One Apollo spacecraft on January 27, 1967 killing Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee during a "plugs out" test on the pad. Apollo 7 in October of 1968 to Apollo-Soyuz in July of 1975 saw twelve men; starting with Neil Armstrong and ending with Eugene Cernan, walk on the moon.Unmanned Space Explorations:In 1962, the United States launched a series of satellites code named Mariner whose goal was to achieve planetary "fly-by" of Venus, Mars, and Mercury. The missions were successful, and the first step of Solar System exploration was taken. Some time later, in 1975, the United States followed up the Mariner project with the...

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