When the Powerhouse Museum opened in 1988, its Space-beyond this world exhibition included several replica Soviet spacecraft on loan from the then Soviet Academy of Sciences. Amongst this collection of reproduction spacecraft was a 1:2 scale model of the USSR’s Mars 3, the first spacecraft to make a successful touchdown on the surface of Mars.
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Fifty years ago, in the early hours of February 21, 1962 (Sydney time), NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, on board his Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7. Although two previous Mercury missions had flown brief sub-orbital flights, achieving orbit was an important goal for the US space program at that point in the Cold War contest of the Space Race.
April was a busy month for milestone anniversaries of space events: so busy in fact that I didn’t have time to write this article and post it until now-on the 49th anniversary of the first US Mercury space mission.
Photo courtesy of NASA Forty years ago, on July 21, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 Moon mission, became the first person to set foot on another world. This historic spaceflight marked the culmination of the so-called “Space Race”, one of the major Cold War propaganda battles between the United States and the USSR, which began in 1957, when the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching the first satellite, Sputnik 1.