Exploration; to travel in a little-known region for discovery, as defined by Webster. Since the age of the Greeks, Anglo-Saxons have been interested in space exploration. From Copernicus to Gaileo to Newton, space has been looked upon with adoring eyes. Space has been regarded time after time as the final frontier.
That was until 1957, with the launch of the Sputnik-1, when the Soviet built satellite became the first man-made satellite successfully launched out into outer space. In 1958, the United States matched the Soviets with their own satellite, Explorer III. After that, it became a free-for-all out into the darkest regions of the final frontier. The ascension into space for the United States started off with rockets, satellites, and probes then later moved on to shuttles and larger spacecrafts. In 1946, the United States started their climb towards the heavens with the NRL V-2. The rocket gave the first observations of the Sun's UV spectrum.
In 1949, the NRL V-2 gave the first observations of solar X-rays. In 1958, the Explorer III became the US's first satellite and it also discovered Earth's radiation belt. On August 17th, 1958, the US set its sights upon the moon with the Pioneer 0 but it exploded in its first stages of ascension. It was followed later in the year by Pioneer 1 and Pioneer 3 both lunar orbiters, but again failure because both separately failed to reach atmospheric escape velocity.The following years Pioneer 4 and 5 were launched as space probes and are presently still in solar orbit. In 1962, the Aerobee Rocket was launched and observed the first x-ray star.
In the 1960's, NASA began the Ranger space probe program. They were NASA's earliest Moon exploration program probes. These spacecrafts were designed to perform a crash landing upon the Moon's surface. They were intended to take pictures and return scientific data up until the impact of the probe with the lunar surface. On April 23rd, 1962, the Ranger 4 became the first US lunar impact on the Moon's surface. The Soviets had done it first with Luna 2 on September 14th, 1959.
The Ranger's provided scientists with more than 17,000 close up pictures of the lunar surface and specifically the areas of Mare Tranquillitatis and Ocean Procellarum. (Johnson) These pictures gave us more information about the Moon and its surface in just a few years than all the previous attempts put together, though Pioneer 3 and 5 missed the Moon and are in solar orbit. The Mariner space program probes were designed to fly past and/or orbit planets, specifically Mercury, Venus and Mars. On August 27th, 1962, the US achieved the world's first successful interplanetary spacecraft when the Mariner 2 was launched. It arrived at Venus at a distance of 34,800 kilometers and scanned its surface with infrared and microwave radiometers. It also captured data that showed Venus' surface to be about 425 C.
(Hamilton) On November 28th, 1964 the Mariner 4 was launched. It gave the first glimpse of...