People have dreamed of travelling in space for thousands of years. But it was not until 1957 that it became a reality.
On October 4, 1957 the USSR launched the first man-made satellite into space. It was called Sputnik 1.
On April 12, 1961 the soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth. The first spacewoman in the world was Valentina Tereshkova. She made 48 orbits in 1963 in her Vostok 6.
On July 20, 1969 the American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon.
In 1986 the Russian space station Mir was launched.
Progress is inevitable and soon we’ll be able to visit and even live on other planets. The 21st century may turn science fiction into science fact. Scientists are already at work on the International Space Station, a “city of space”. It will be the size of a football field and will weigh over 200 tons. A team of 10-15 spacemen will probably be able to live and work at the International Space Station in 2005.
The next step will be the first moonbase. 20 or 30 scientists will live inside a dome with an artificial atmosphere. This will make it possible for them to live and work without spacesuits. It also means that they will be able to grow food. If the moonbase is a success, the first lunar city will be built. It will have schools and universities, cinemas and discos, scientific laboratories and hospitals. Even babies will be bom on the moon!
The next great step will be when people land on our nearest planet Mars. Scientists say that the planet once had water on its surface. If that water is now frozen underground, humans will be able to use it someday. By the end of the 21-st century, scientists hope, it will be possible to “terraform” Mars – transform the planet into an earthlike place with air and water. Space awaits the 21st century’s pioneers.