Space Race – The US Strikes Back!

Space Race – the US Strikes Back!
It’s that time again… 50 years since the USA had their golden moment, landing the first humans on the moon. Prior to that, they had not had it all their own way and their was much concern in the west over the giant strides being made by the Soviet Union. It was the Soviet Union who launched the first intercontinental ballistic missile on 21 August 1957, closely followed that same year with the first artificial satellite in Earth orbit, and the first dog in space (Laika). The Americans hit back the following year with their own satellites – first detection of the Van Allen belt, first solar powered and first communications satellites. From then on the firsts came thick and fast for both nations. But, after the huge prize of sending the first human (Yuri Gagarin) into Earth orbit, the next biggest event was to land men on the moon on 20 July 1969. Full details from 1957 to 1975 can be seen at
The photo below shows Buzz Aldrin’s lunar boot print though it was Neil Armstrong who first stepped onto the moon’s surface.

Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon
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SpaceX dummy run in Space

I can’t believe it was now 8 years ago since we celebrated 50 years of Yuri Gagarin‘s first manned space flight with our graphic novel Yuri’s Day. I’m fully tuned as Yuri’s famous flight was in my birth year. 8 years on the and the book seems to have barely aged. The legacy left us with the orbiting International Space Station, still served by Soyuz with a rocket that has hardly changed since Yuri’s Day. However, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has recently gone through the motions of successfully docking with the ISS on 3 March this year. As with the Soviet tests in the past, this was a dummy run and the humour of the naming – SpaceX Crew Dragon ‘Ripley’ was equal to that of the Vostok ‘Ivan Ivanovich’. I do, however, wonder about the non-naming of animals – who paved the way for the dummies – on their one way missions!

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Ultima Thule mashup

Ultima Thule New Horizons impression2019 got of to a positive start, in astronomical terms. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made a close flyby of the distant object Ultima Thule on the edge of the Kuiper Belt. So little is known of this 20 mile long frozen lump but over the days and months, gigabytes collected during the flyby will trickle home to Earth.

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Sputnik Launced the Start of the Space Race

On this day of 4 October back in 1957, the first manmade object punched its way through Earth atmosphere. Many on the ground believed they could see the Sputnik satellite in the night sky. However, what they probably saw was the exhausted shell of the R-7 rocket that delivered it into orbit……/a284…/r-7-rocket-sputnik/

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8 more facts you probably didn’t know about Gagarin…

The senior curator of a Science Museum exhibition charting the Soviet scientific and technological ingenuity that kick-started the space age (‘Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age’, which ran until March 2016) reveals eight things you (probably) didn’t know about Yuri Gagarin: (we did, they’re in the book)!…

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