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Humans in Space

  • Humans in Space Ever since ancient times, humans have wanted to know more about the skies above them. They invented stories to explain the presence of the stars, the Moon and the Sun. Today, advanced technology helps us to travel into space and expand our knowledge about the world beyond our planet. Quick Q’s: 1. What was the first living being to orbit Earth? The first creature to orbit the Earth was a dog named Laika, aboard the Russian spacecraft Sputnik 2 on 3 November 1957. 2. Who was the first person in space? On 12 April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person to travel in space, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1. Gagarin orbited the Earth once on this historic flight, which lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes. 3. Which was the first ever space station? Salyut 1 was the first space station. It was launched on 19 April 1971. Q How do space shuttles fly into space? A A space shuttle consists of two rocket boosters, three engines, an external fuel tank and two smaller fuel tanks. It also has an orbiter, which puts the shuttle into orbit. The rockets are used to propel the shuttle into space. When the shuttle is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) high, the rockets fall off into the ocean and the three main engines of the shuttle take over. Just before the shuttle goes into orbit, its engines are shut down and the external fuel tank is discarded. Q Why can’t I fly into space in an aeroplane? A All objects, even aeroplanes, are glued to the surface of the Earth by gravity. If you wanted to escape this unseen force, you would have to travel at a speed of at least 40,000 kilometres per hour (25,000 miles per hour). Only space shuttles are designed to achieve this speed. A mixture of liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen is burned under high pressure to help the shuttle’s rockets reach this speed and push it out of the Earth’s atmosphere into orbit. 24 Q Is there no gravity in space? A All objects in space exert some gravitational force on each other. However, the gravitational force exerted by some objects, like the Moon, is much less than that of the Earth. When humans are in space they float around in the air, because there is not enough gravity to keep their feet on the ground. First woman in space Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, aboard Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. Weightless games On board a spacecraft, astronauts dance in zero gravity, as one colleague holds down a keyboard to play it. Take off These three images show the space shuttle at its base (left), at the moment of take off (centre) and on its way to space (right).

    Could I see the Sun rise and set from space? A Astronauts aboard a space shuttle orbiting the Earth actually see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day! This is because once in orbit, a space shuttle goes around the Earth at a speed of more than 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,400 miles per hour) and takes only 90 minutes to complete one orbit. Q Is it possible to live in space? A Today astronauts spend a great deal of time in space stations. A space station is a floating space base. It is like a spaceship designed so that astronauts can live in outer space for weeks, months or even years at a time. Unlike a spacecraft, a space station cannot take off or land on planets. Other vehicles are used to transport people and materials to and from the station. Space stations are used for studying the effect of long-term space flights on the human body as well as for space research. Q Is sending humans into space the only way to learn more about it? A Apart from sending astronauts into space, we also use satellites, probes and telescopes to study space. Like moons, man-made satellites revolve around planets and help us learn more about them. A probe is an unmanned spacecraft sent into space to study objects other than the Earth. We have even put huge telescopes into orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope, sent into orbit in 1990, is the best-known among these. It is better to have a telescope in space than on Earth, because then there is no atmosphere to distort the image received by the telescope. However, the biggest telescopes are too big to be sent to space.

    Many sunrises and sunsets When astronauts are on board a spacecraft and orbiting the Earth, they are moving much faster than the Earth, so they can see the Sun rise and set many times in a day. The normal human biological cycle can be upset by this, so astronauts are given special medicines to help them sleep.

    Looking back in time The Hubble Space Telescope works like a time machine that can travel into the past. It took pictures of the universe when it was barely a billion years old – the universe is at least five billion years old now, though some scientists put its age as high as 14 billion years. The Hubble Space Telescope can look into the past because it takes billions of years for light from the far ends of the universe to reach the telescope. When the light reaches it an image is captured, and we can see what happened in that particular part of the universe long ago.