.. tes, they were on the USS Hornet (http://www.ksc.nasa.gov, Apollo 13). More missions would follow, particularly the Apollo 13 mission, which was almost a complete disaster. Another mission to set humans on the Moon, was aborted after numerous failures 200,000 miles from Earth. The astronauts did return in a Life Module. The last of the Apollo missions was the Apollo Soyuz project that brought along the peace process started earlier by Nixon.
The Viking project was the beginning of the Mars exploration, with the first two Viking lander and orbiter missions in 1976 (Vogt, 60). The atmospheric conditions taken from those missions serve as background information for todays plans to send humans to Mars. The Voyager missions in 1979 were set to explore Saturn in detail, and Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune as fly-bys (Vogt, 22). Although these missions served to collect a lot of data for future research and went to further planets, they were not as big as the manned flights to the Moon, particularly because space exploration was so new, and because the missions to the Moon had a patriotic feel to them. But history of astronauts would not be complete with out a more detailed information about some of the more famous astronauts. John Glenn, the first American in orbit on the Friendship 7 flight, was a pilot of over ninety missions in the Korean War (Kramer, 18).
Chosen for his experience as well as his bravery in the war, he rose to the rank of Colonel in the US Marine Corps before going into NASA. He trained on crude machinery, before NASA came up with a set training program (20). He was 42 when he flew for the first time in his orbital mission (34), and he later became a Senator (39). Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, both flew in the Apollo 11, and were the first two people to walk on the moon. They will always be remembered for their historic feat. Both Armstrong and Aldrin were 39 when they flew the Apollo mission. Armstrong was the first civilian in space, and in his first flight, he was the commander of the Apollo 11 mission.
Buzz Aldrin was a Colonel in the US Air Force, and he was also chosen for his flying experience. Because Americans have lost interest in the space program without competition, there has not been another crop of astronauts as famous as those since the days of the Apollo mission. History of space flight has been very rich with accomplishments and milestones, but it appears that the world has reached a small bottleneck for technology in the area of space exploration. In addition, the lack of competition from any other country has slowed down the pace of innovation. With the Russian Space Program in shambles, as well as the whole country of Russia, the former USSR has not produced much useful technology lately.
With a huge space station in the making, Russia is the only country that has not made the necessary parts for its completion, due to costly maintenance of their old space station, Mir, on which Russia and America have worked together on conducting experiments in the years after the USSRs break-up. With Mirs retirement, Russia now has the time and the resources to complete their part of the International Space Station which will accelerate space exploration. America has a few of its own projects going on right now, like the Galileo, the Pathfinder, and the Mars Polar Lander. Galileo is one of the probes out right now, scheduled to study the environmental conditions of Venus and Jupiter (http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov, Galileo). The Mars Pathfinder, launched 2 years ago, has recently made some important discoveries about the water content on Mars, and the climate history of the red planet. Endless information has been sent back to earth about Mars ice caps, and rock formations, which have concluded that there was standing water on Mars, including oceans and seas (http://polarlander.jpl.nasa.gov/, Pathfinder). Although the Pathfinder has set the Mars exploration mission on the right track, the recent failures with the Mars Polar Lander mission have set back the program.
The communication with the new lander could not be established and the ship is presumed lost. Critics say that the faster, cheaper, better approach taken with the lander has actually cost the government more than $36 million, and the valuable time of building and getting a new lander in position (Associated Press, 1A). Although the present movement of the space program appears to have stalled, maybe the future holds the answers. What is in the future of the space program ? Eventually, people will settle on the planets close to earth, if not because of exploration, but because of a lack of natural resources, which is catching up with mankind. Prototypes of human habitats on Mars are being made, and NASA hopes to have humans on Mars by 2050. The International Space Station should be well on its way to being built, and should be functioning in the next five to ten years (http://polarlander.jpl.nasa.gov, Future).
New cheaper satellites and explorers are also coming in the near future. The new explorers with plasma propulsion are already in design, and are going to cost no more than one million per unit greatly slashing todays price. They are also going to have a virtually inexhaustible fuel capacity, because of the special engine design using metal for fuel. This explorer will be so affordable that they could be sent out in many directions to explore countless star systems, and still be inexpensive enough to lose (Chaikin, 60). Plans that are being talked about right now may be a little far fetched sometimes, but even if some of them will materialize, the future looking bright indeed. Forty-eight years ago, John F. Kennedy set a grand plan in motion.
His State of the Union address pushed the United States to its limits. Better training methods, and many schools for future astronauts have made a big difference in the level of the training, ability and intelligence of the future crews of American spaceships. Now, even with interest dwindling, and problems piling up, Americans have to try their best to stare in the face of adversity, and look at the big picture the endless playground known as outer space. Bibliography Bibliography Associated Press. NASA ends any hopes for Mars spacecraft. The Baltimore Sun 8 Dec.
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