One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Mankind

On July 16, 1969—40 years ago this week—the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon while millions of people watched on their television sets. Four days later, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon, which according to legend should still be visible since the moon has no atmosphere or wind to erase the footsteps. Most people will never forget watching the Apollo 11 astronauts skip about on the moon’s surface like little kids. That was a big one, but here are some other space firsts. [Chicago Tribune]

  • First Dog In Space. In November 1957, Laika, a stray dog found on the streets of Russia, was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2. At the time, everyone thought Laika was happily barking as Sputnik 2 circled the earth 2,750 times. Turns out that during take off, Laika’s heart rate increased exponentially, and after five to seven hours into the flight she was no longer emitting signs of life. Tear. [BBC]
  • First Woman In Space. Valentina Vladimirovna was a parachuter who volunteered to go to space, and she was launched into the Earth’s orbit on June 16, 1963. For almost three days, she looped around the planet before returning home. Upon her arrival, she was given the title “Hero of the Soviet Union” and was honored with the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace. Later in life, Valentina married another cosmonaut, Andrian Nikolayev, and together they made another first: Elena, the first child born to parents who had both visited outer space! [Enchanted Learning]
  • First Tourist In Space. Much to the disapproval of NASA, Dennis Tito, a New York native and multimillionaire paid $20,000 for a ticket to space. In April 2001, he was sent aboard the Russian craft Soyuz TM-32 to the International Space Station where he was a tourist for eight days. [Space Tourism]
  • First Tweet In Space. American astronaut Mike Massimino was aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on his way to help repair the Hubble Space Telescope when he tweeted, “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!” In 139 characters, astro_mike became the first tweeter from space and continued to Twitter his mission as over 200,000 followers read along. [CNN]