Space, The Final Frontier!
The United States got serious about its space exploration program when the Soviet Union became the first nation to put an artificial satellite into Earth orbit on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 emitted “the beep heard round the world” and scared the Eisenhower administration and Congress into the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
From the Bell X-1 that journeyed to the edge of space to today’s ongoing developments such as the International Space Station, the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and NASA’s Launch Services Program, the U.S. remains committed to the exploration of space. Many of the people involved in the program, have been, and remain, in the military. That is why we have introduced this section to our website.
Sub-Orbital Flights tested the characteristics of men and equipment that would be needed for use later in the space program. Valuable information about the conditions that would be encountered was gathered. This was later used to protect the humans that would be carried into space. Project Mercury put the first Americans into space. Astronaut Alan Shepherd became the first American in space when he piloted his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule during a 15 minute sub-orbital ride. John Glenn in Friendship 7 became the first American to actually orbit the Earth. There were three more manned flights after Glenn's but the remainder of the program was cancelled, as it became clear the the limits of the Mercury capsule had been reached.
The next phase of the program was the race to put a man on the moon. Project Gemini developed many of the procedures and techniques that would be required for such an adventure. These included rendezvous, docking, and spacewalks. During these long-duration missions, important medical data on the effects of weigtlessness and exposure on humans was gathered.
The goal of the Apollo Program, inspired and ordered by President Kennedy, was to take humans safely to the Moon and back again. Starting in 1961 and running until 1972, there were 17 Apollo missions (unless you believe the premise of the movier "Apollo 18"!). Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, followed by 11 other Americans on 4 other missions.
The Space Shuttle Program began on 12 April 1981 with the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia and ended 30 years later with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis on 21 July 2011. During that time, there were 135 missions that carried over 300 astronauts into space. Tragically, 14 astronauts made the ultimate sacrifice in the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Missions included carrying Spacelab for 20 trips, a joint venture between the NASA and the ESA, the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, docking with the Mir Russian space station, and the building and supply of the International Space Station.
Currently, NASA has no immediate plans for further manned flights, and is relying on the Russians for launches to send personnel and supplies to the ISS. Under the current economic conditions, it is difficult to tell when these plans will change. Long term goals, though, include a manned flight to Mars, and perhaps beyond.
The exploration of space has inspired many artists, as it remains to be the final frontier. We are proud to make their work available to our visitors and customers. We offer the works of former Astronaut Alan Bean, Mark Karvon, Mike Machat, and Attilla Hejja. Our search for quality art continues, so we will be adding others as they become available. Use the Navigation buttons to the left to explore each category. Browse and enjoy!
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