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Space age is a race to explore space by means of space hardware developed by mankind.

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Space age is a contemporary period of space technology. Space age encompasses the activities related to the space race. Space age progression has included, space exploration, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events.

Beginning of the space age.

Space Age.
Space Shuttle leads the race in the space age.

The Space Age began with the development of several technologies that culminated on October 4, 1957, with the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union. This was the world's first artificial satellite, orbiting the Earth in 98 minutes and weighing about 80kg. The launch of Sputnik 1 ushered a new era of political, scientific and technological achievements that became known as the Space Age.

The space age was characterized by rapid development of new technology in a close race mainly between USA and the Soviet Union. Rapid advances were made in rocketry, material science, computers and many other areas. Much of the technology originally developed for space applications has been spun off and found other uses. Today, the term 'space age' still connotes a sense of something new and innovative.

The space age reached its peak with the Apollo program which captured the imagination of much of the world's population. The landing of Apollo 11 is an event watched by over 500 million people around the world and is widely recognized as one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Since then and with the end of the space race due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, public attention has largely moved to other areas.

During the 1990s funding for space related programs fell sharply as the Soviet Union disintegrated and NASA no longer had any direct competition. Also, public perception of the dangers and cost of space exploration in the USA was greatly affected by the Challenger disaster in 1986.

Since then participation in space launches have increasingly widened to more governments and commercial interests. Since the 1990s, the current period has more often been referred to as the information age rather than the Space Age, since space exploration and space related technologies are felt to be common place by significant portions of the public.

Current period of the space age reaearch and development.

In the early 21st century, the Ansari X Prize competition was set up to help jump start commercial space exploration which was won by Space Ship One in 2004, becoming the first spaceship not funded by a government agency.

Several countries now have space programs; from related technology ventures to full fledge space programs with launch facilities. There are many scientific and commercial satellites in use today, with a total of hundreds of satellites in orbit and several countries have plans to send humans in space.

Major events in the space age.

  • October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite is launched by the Soviet Union.
  • April 12, 1961. Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space.
  • July 21, 1969. Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon.
  • April 12, 1981. The first reusable space ship, the Space Shuttle is launched for the first time.
  • February 19, 1986. The space station Mir is launched. Staying in orbit for over 15 years, occupants set several records in human space endurance.

Trivia about the space age.

The Space Age might also have begun much earlier, already on October 3, 1942, when the German A3 rocket, a precursor of the V-2 rocket program reached space, therefore becoming the first man-made object to enter space, albeit only breifly.

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