Space travel is not that rare nowadays, thanks to SpaceX. This pioneering company allows people to explore space as a vacation. But, far before SpaceX was built, and the technology was not as unlimited as now, space travel seemed impossible yet majestic. In fact, Russia and the US used to compete in the 1960s to launch their first human who could travel safely in space and back to the earth.
Also, because of the ambition to travel beyond the earth’s boundary, many people, directly and indirectly, sacrificed their lives to prove that doing space travel is real. Let’s learn more about outer space to appreciate its mystery! Here are some space travel facts that will amaze you.
1. No Difference Between Male and Female Space Suit
If you have ever wondered and dreamed to be an astronaut, you will imagine how cool it is to wear a space suit while working. If you look closer, there is no difference between male and female space suits from NASA. They have the same weight; they have the same features and shape as well.
But, mostly the female’s space suit is smaller than the male’s suit. It is pretty normal since males are usually taller and bigger than females. So, if you think that you can have a different space suit from the opposite gender, then it will not happen. That’s why both male and female astronauts look cool and gorgeous together.
2. The First Animal Space are Dezik and Tsygan
People often talk about Laika, as the first dog who did travel to space in 1957. But, 6 years before, on 22 July 1951, Russia sent two animals into space. They are named Dezik and Tsygan. The purpose of sending those two dogs to space was to launch an R-1V rocket (a Russian-built version of the German V-2 ballistic missile) and the dogs were loaded into a pressurized capsule.
Both of them are safely landed back on the earth. The R-1V rocket successfully reached an altitude of around 110 km (68.3 mi) and made those two dogs experience roughly four minutes of weightlessness in space.
3. Vladimir Komarov is the First Cosmonaut Who Died Doing Space Travel
Following the successful mission of Yuri Gagarin as the first human being to see space, Russia, again, on 23 April 1967, launched Soyuz. Vladimir Komarov was a single cosmonaut aboard. But, by the time the spacecraft reached orbit, a few problems appeared, the rocket ran into difficulty handling the vessel and was unable to fire the rocket brakes.
Hence, Romanov cannot enter the atmosphere as scheduled. It made the crew decide to bring Komarov back to the earth immediately. Unfortunately, the spacecraft’s main parachute did not fully deploy, which caused the Soyuz to hit the ground at high speed. Komarov became the first person to perish during space travel. His ashes were buried in the wall of the Kremlin.
4. The First Woman to Go to Outer Space is Valentina Tereshkova
Being a space fearer is not just for men. In fact, the first woman to successfully travel to outer space was Valentina Tereshkova. Because of her enthusiasm for aviation, although she was a worker at a textile factory, Tereshkova was chosen by the Soviet space program named ‘space first’ to launch Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
The purpose of this program is to launch Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 together as a dual flight. After around 3 days in space, Tereshkova successfully went back to the earth. However, all the control during space travel is done automatically.
5. In 1986, The Space Shuttle Challenger Exploded Shortly After Launch
NASA’s biggest ambition is to send humans to explore the great beyond. One of the most ambitious missions is the Space Shuttle Challenger. In fact, there were seven people chosen to launch the STS-51L to travel to outer space. The crews include Commander Francis R. “Dick” Scobee and Pilot Michael J. Smith. Then there are also Mission Specialists like Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, and Ronald E. McNair. Unfortunately, they met a deadly accident.
On January 28, 1986, The Challenger launched normally, yet at 73 seconds after liftoff, the controllers lost the communications and saw a fireball on television screens. Then it was announced that the crew did not survive.
According to the Rogers Commission Reports, the technical causes of the accident as well as systemic organizational and cultural elements led to the decision to launch Challenger on that day. Then NASA made the modifications to the hardware, completed and tested, and shuttle flights resumed in September 1988, after a 32-month hiatus.
6. More Than 20 Astronauts Have Died Doing Their Job
Exploring space is full of risk. Within half a century, about 30 astronauts and cosmonauts have died. They passed away while training for or attempting dangerous space missions. However, out of around 550 cosmonauts who have ventured into space, only three have actually died in space.
Most cases are due to the parachute not deploying. While the others usually the rocket is not yet ready to launch. In spite of the failure, all of them should be remembered for their integrity and bravery to explore space.
7. More Than 50 Countries Have Space Agencies
Due to the high enthusiasm for space and aviation, many countries in the world started to build space agencies in their countries. By the second decade of the 21st century, more than 50 countries had space agencies, whether it is private companies or government institutions.
For instance, there is SpaceX owned by Elon Musk, European Space Agency (ESA) from the European government, and Axiom. It reflects that many people want to know more about space. They even want to live there, even more so now when the technology and information have become more advanced. Seems that the impossible is nothing today.
8. Astronauts Should Do The Tight and Dull Diet
To be an astronaut, you will not only learn about space and aviation but also conduct the right diet for your body and train yourself while living in space. Due to the limited room, astronauts are only allowed to have pre-processed food around 3.8 pounds a day. They can add water or heat it before eating it.
They cannot save the fruits in the refrigerator too, so the fruits will only last for a few days. If you think it is that strict, actually an astronaut can still consume peanuts, brownies, fruits, chicken, beef, butter, seafood, and some drinks such as coffee, tea, and even lemonade that are wrapped in disposable bags.
9. No Specific Amount of Astronauts To Be Selected by NASA
If you wonder about how many people that NASA selected to be astronauts or flight crew each year, the answer is there is no specific number in an astronaut candidate class. NASA selects based on the amount they need. Also, there is no age restriction, yet the age that has been chosen is around 26 – 46 years old.
Usually, the applicants will submit the application online, then they get an online assessment in order to jump to the next step. As we know, the first astronaut is Yuri Gagarin from Russia, and now there are 4 latest astronauts, 3 are recruited by NASA, and 1 by ESA. They launched the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by Elon Musk.
10. The Fisher Space Pen for Cosmonauts
During space travel, the astronaut used pencils to take notes in space. Although it is just a mechanical pencil, the cost to buy 34 units of pencils is around $4,382.50, or $128.89 per unit. It caused controversy since people think it is too big to order the pencil for the astronauts.
Hence, Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Co. designed a ballpoint pen that would operate better in the unique environment of space. The pen has a pressurized ink cartridge, practical in weightless areas, underwater, and in extreme temperatures from -50 F to +400 F. The project was successful and it was built with no funding from outsiders. In the end, the company only sells to NASA for US$6 each.
11. A Space Suit Weighs 280 Pounds
When you assume that the space suit is like a suit that you can wear easily, you are pretty wrong. Because a space suit, without the astronaut inside, weighs around 280 pounds. Putting on a spacesuit takes 45 minutes and the spacesuit can be worn for up to 15 years on average. After successfully wearing the space suit, the astronaut has to adapt first due to the lower pressure of oxygen.
The suit is heavy since in space, the gravity is zero and on the moon, the atmosphere is less. Hence, the suit is pressurized with 4.3 square pounds of oxygen per square inch. The suit is made of pieces of rubber to keep the oxygen in the suit intact. Therefore, you understand why it is so heavy but it is still weightless when the astronaut comes into space.
12. Send Robot Astronauts to The Asteroid Belt to Mine for Precious Metals
When technology becomes more advanced, people think that nothing is impossible. Then, humans start to think about mining precious metals and materials in space. For instance, filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page, built the company to conduct their plan for mining the asteroid in space.
While other people want to do space travel to enjoy the view, Planetary Resources, in fact, want to go to space using robot astronauts in order to mine the asteroid. They believe the main material from the asteroid is good for human beings on earth.
13. The First Private Citizen Toured Space In 2001
The billionaire, Dennis Tito finally let his dream come true in April 2001. Tito is the first space tourist that enjoyed the view from space by using a Russian Soyuz rocket. To grant his dream, Tito paid $20 million to spend a week in space. “It just was–whatever I had expected, the best I had expected times 10. It was the best experience of my whole life, those eight days.” That’s what he said after landing back on earth.
14. One Space Shuttle Launch Costs $450 Million
The cost to launch one space shuttle is US$450 million. It is far from what NASA expected. Also, the launch schedule and turnover are always delayed. Hence, most people think that the cost and what NASA did is not equal.
It is not worth trying, moreover, there are two accidents due to the space shuttle program. The cost became that high because some of the equipment used to launch, such as the external tank, were non-reusable and had to be replaced with each launch.
15. Snoopy Is the Astronauts’ Personal Safety Mascot
In the 1960s, Snoopy was a very popular character that made NASA collaborate with Schulz. Because the collaboration with the popular character will attract more crowds in order to succeed the campaign. Snoopy became the mascot for NASA’s spaceflight safety initiative.
For this collaboration, Schulz drew the comic strips that described Snoopy on the moon. The story is about the safety of Snoopy when this character is on the moon. This character became the mascot of Apollo 10. In 2018, the collaboration was repeated. Imagine, the fact that you get to travel to the space with this lovely dog!