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The First Humans in Space
by Staff Writers for Launchspace
Bethesda, MD (SPX) Mar 05, 2019

when it all began

The first human to fly in space was Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut who was born on March 9, 1934, near Moscow, Russia. He flew aboard the Vostok spacecraft in April 1961 and orbited the Earth once on this 108-minute historic flight. Unfortunately, Gagarin was killed in a plane crash in 1968. The second human to enter space was Alan Shepard, an American astronaut who was born on November 18, 1923, in New Hampshire.

In May 1961, Shepard became the first American astronaut in space when he flew a suborbital trajectory aboard Mercury 3. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 116 miles during his 15-minute flight. Later, in 1971, Shepard commanded Apollo 14 and, along with Ed Mitchell, walked on the surface of the moon for 9 hours.

The third human in space was Gus Grissom, an American astronaut born on April 3, 1926, in Indiana. He became an astronaut in 1959 and was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. In July 1961, Grissom flew aboard Mercury 4 and became the second American to make a sub-orbital flight that lasted for 16 minutes. In 1965, Grissom piloted the first maneuverable spacecraft aboard Gemini 3. Sadly, Grissom was one of three astronauts to be killed during a training exercise in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967.

It wasn't until 1963 that a woman flew in space. Valentina Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937, in Masslenikovo, Russia. She became a cosmonaut in 1961 and in June 1963, Tereshkova flew aboard Vostok 6. She spent three days in orbit that included a television broadcast to the Soviet Union.

Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, was born in California in 1951. She gave up a career as a professional tennis player to study astrophysics and later joined NASA's astronaut training program. It wasn't until June of 1983 that she served as a crew member on Space Shuttle Challenger flight, STS-7. She flew on Challenger again in 1984.

All of the early space flights were in low Earth orbits. It wasn't until the Apollo Program that humans left the vicinity of Earth and headed for the Moon. On Apollo-Saturn 8, three astronauts flew to the far side of the Moon. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, three American astronauts, made 10 orbits around the Moon and returned safely to Earth. This flight began on December 21, 1968 and spent Christmas circling the Moon.

Finally, on Apollo 11, in July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. These two men remained on the surface for 20, including a two-hour moonwalk. The last two men to walk on the Moon were Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in December 1972. No humans have ventured beyond near-Earth orbit over 46 years. This July will mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Who will be the next to venture far from Earth?

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First Emirati set to head to space in September: UAE
Dubai (AFP) Feb 25, 2019
The United Arab Emirates announced Monday that the first astronaut from the Gulf country will blast off on a mission to the International Space Station on September 25. The oil-rich state has two astronauts in training, selected from more than 4,000 applicants, as it looks to get an ambitious space programme aimed at exploring Mars off the ground. The authorities said a decision on which of the two astronauts would take off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for the eight-day mission will be made i ... read more

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