History of space exploration

The War of the Worlds

Since ancient times, people around the world have studied the heavens and used their observations and explanations of astronomical phenomena for both religious and practical purposes. Some dreamed of leaving Earth to explore other worlds. For example, the French satirist Cyrano de Bergerac in the 17th century wrote Histoire comique des états et empires de la lune (1656) and Histoire comique des états et empires du soleil (1662; together in English as A Voyage to the Moon: With Some Account of the Solar World, 1754), describing fictional journeys to the Moon and the Sun. Two centuries later the French author Jules Verne and the English novelist and historian H.G. Wells infused their stories with descriptions of outer space and of spaceflight that were consistent with the best understanding of the time. Verne’s De la Terre à la Lune (1865; From the Earth to the Moon) and Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) and The First Men in the Moon (1901) used sound scientific principles to describe space travel and encounters with alien beings.

In order to translate these fictional images of space travel into reality, it was necessary to devise some practical means of countering the influence of Earth’s gravity. By the beginning of the 20th century, the centuries-old technology of rockets had advanced to the point at which it was reasonable to consider their use to accelerate objects to a velocity sufficient to enter orbit around Earth and even to escape Earth’s gravity and travel away from the planet.

Tsiolkovsky

The first person to study in detail the use of rockets for spaceflight was the Russian schoolteacher and mathematician Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. In 1903 his article “Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices” laid out many of the principles of spaceflight. Up to his death in 1935, Tsiolkovsky continued to publish sophisticated studies on the theoretical aspects of spaceflight. He never complemented his writings with practical experiments in rocketry, but his work greatly influenced later space and rocket research in the Soviet Union and Europe.

Goddard

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard

Robert H. Goddard and rocket

In the United States, Robert Hutchings Goddard became interested in space exploration after reading works such as The War of the Worlds. Even as a young man, he dedicated himself to working on spaceflight. In his 1904 high-school graduation speech, he stated that “it is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” Goddard received his first two patents for rocket technology in 1914, and, with funding from the Smithsonian Institution, he published a theoretical treatise, A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, in 1919. Goddard’s claim that rockets could be used to send objects as far as the Moon was widely ridiculed in the public press, including The New York Times (which published a retraction on July 17, 1969, the day after the launch of the first crewed mission to the Moon). Thereafter, the already shy Goddard conducted much of his work in secret, preferring to patent rather than publish his results. This approach limited his influence on the development of American rocketry, although early rocket developers in Germany took notice of his work.

Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 11. Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin Aldrin, photographed July 20, 1969, during the first manned mission to the Moon

Robert Goddard: rocket

In the 1920s, as a professor of physics at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, Goddard began to experiment with liquid-fueled rockets. His first rocket, launched in Auburn, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1926, rose 12.5 metres (41 feet) and traveled 56 metres (184 feet) from its launching place. The noisy character of his experiments made it difficult for Goddard to continue work in Massachusetts. With support from aviator Charles A. Lindbergh and financial assistance from the philanthropic Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, he moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where from 1930 to 1941 he built engines and launched rockets of increasing complexity.

Oberth

The third widely recognized pioneer of rocketry, Hermann Oberth, was by birth a Romanian but by nationality a German. Reading Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon as a youth inspired him to study the requirements for interplanetary travel. Oberth’s 1922 doctoral dissertation on rocket-powered flight was rejected by the University of Heidelberg for being too speculative, but it became the basis for his classic 1923 book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (“The Rocket into Interplanetary Space”). The work explained the mathematical theory of rocketry, applied the theory to rocket design, and discussed the possibility of constructing space stations and of traveling to other planets.

In 1929 Oberth published a second influential book, Wege zur Raumschiffahrt ( Ways to Spaceflight). His works led to the creation of a number of rocket clubs in Germany as enthusiasts tried to turn Oberth’s ideas into practical devices. The most important of these groups historically was the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR; “Society for Spaceship Travel”), which had as a member the young Wernher von Braun. Although Oberth’s work was crucial in stimulating the development of rocketry in Germany, he himself had only a limited role in that development. Alone among the rocket pioneers, Oberth lived to see his ideas become reality: he was Braun’s guest at the July 16, 1969, launch of Apollo 11.

Other space pioneers

Although Tsiolkovsky, Goddard, and Oberth are recognized as the most influential of the first-generation space pioneers, others made contributions in the early decades of the 20th century. For example, the Frenchman Robert Esnault-Pelterie began work on the theoretical aspects of spaceflight as early as 1907 and subsequently published several major books on the topic. He, like Tsiolkovsky in the Soviet Union and Oberth in Germany, was an effective publicist regarding the potential of space exploration. In Austria, Eugen Sänger worked on rocket engines and in the late 1920s proposed developing a “rocket plane” that could reach a speed exceeding 10,000 km (more than 6,000 miles) per hour and an altitude of more than 65 km (40 miles). Interested in Sänger’s work, Nazi Germany in 1936 invited him to continue his investigations in that country.

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A Definitive History of Space Tourism & Human Spaceflight

The path to easy, commercial access to space has been much longer and complicated than most people realize.

If you’ve landed on this post, you’re probably curious what space tourism is, and the history of space tourism.

Space tourism is commercial activity related to space. That could be going to space as a tourist, watching a rocket launch, going stargazing, or traveling to a space-focused destination.

People are surprised to learn we’ve only been visiting space for 59 years! Most of those visits have been due to government activity, not because civilians wanted to go to space!

On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Since then, less than 600 other people have been to space.

In the decades to come, this number will grow rapidly, as space tourism becomes commonplace and more people are able to afford access to space.

To better understand the space tourism industry, it helps to have a good sense of space tourism history. Space tourism starts with its roots in Gagarin’s historic trip to today’s powered test flights and future tourist experiences.

We’ve put together an infographic that highlights the history of human spaceflight, with a special focus on space tourism as it has developed. You can see part of the infographic at right (click to see the full-length infographic), and you can read about each of these periods of spaceflight history below.

If you’re curious about the answers to questions like “when did space tourism start?,” “when did the first tourist travel to space?,” and “how many space tourists have there been?,” read on for a space tourism timeline about the interesting history of space tourism!

This post was originally published in April 2018, and was updated in July 2020.

A Brief History of Early Human Spaceflight

History of Space Tourism - 1950s and 1960s

It’s difficult to understand space tourism history without a foundation. The U.S. and Russian efforts to send men to space propelled technology to the point where today, we can talk about ordinary citizens traveling to space on a regular basis. So let’s start there.

After the successful launch of Sputnik 1 in late 1957, the Soviet Union was eager to capitalize on their ‘lead’ in the Space Race. On April 12, 1961, they succeeded and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Gagarin making a 108-minute orbital flight aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft. During this time, the U.S. Mercury space program was attempting to do the same; in May 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard was the first U.S. citizen in space. In early 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.

Having ‘lost’ the first leg of the marathon to space, the U.S. laid down the ultimate gauntlet in 1961 and 1962 with President John F. Kennedy’s famous ‘We Choose to Go to the Moon’ speeches. Reaching space alone and making orbits became commonplace as the U.S. and Soviet Union raced again to be the first to put a man on the moon. The Mercury space program gave way to the Gemini and Apollo programs, the latter of which succeeded in their goal to reach the moon in 1969. In 12 short years, almost 50 men had been to space, some of them repeatedly.

The 1970s: The Birth of Space Tourism

History of Space Tourism - 1970s

The 1960s came to a close and the repeatability of human spaceflight was proven. The 1970s began with an idea that perhaps people other than highly-trained astronauts and cosmonauts could able to go to space. This is the first real chapter in the history of space tourism.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon announced that the Space Shuttle as a new era of spaceflight. The Shuttles were originally designed and intended to be lower-cost and reusable. Intended to carry research and construction payloads for space stations, early Shuttle designs also included a passenger cabin that could fit within the Shuttle cargo bay. Designed to carry up to 74 passengers into orbit for 3 days, it was the first large-scale concept for the space tourism industry.

Even though it was never developed, the idea of space tourism stuck. By the 1980s, the U.S. was starting to talk about lunar orbit and moon bases. Unfortunately, the 1980s brought tragedy that forestalled the large-scale development of the space tourism industry.

The 1980s: Non-Governmental Astronauts Go to Space

History of Space Tourism - 1980s

On the whole, the Space Shuttle program was a success, running from 1981 to the final mission in 2011. During that time, 135 missions launched, and 355 people went to space. These included German Dr. Uli Merbold and MIT engineer Byron Lichtenberg, Space Shuttle specialists on STS-9 in 1983.

In 1984, Charles Walker flew on STS-41-D. His ticket was paid by his employer, McDonnell Douglas, so he is widely considered the first non-government astronaut – though not the first space tourist. These successes helped NASA gain confidence in their Space Flight Participant program, created to encourage citizens without scientific or government roles to go to space.

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In 1985, Christa McAuliffe became the first Teacher in Space. The world watched with bated breath as Challenger launched in early 1986. Those familiar will remember the tragedy that followed. With the deaths of the Challenger crew, the Space Shuttle program stopped for over two years as a result and the Space Flight Participant program retired.

The 1990s: Spaceflight Business as Usual

History of Space Tourism - 1990s

As one might expect, the Challenger disaster slowed progress in the U.S. aerospace industry. It was the first accident where American astronauts had died since Apollo 1 in 1967.

On the whole, the 1990s saw consistent launches and spaceflight by the U.S. and Russia. China also began moving slowly toward becoming a spacefaring country.

In the late 1990s, a wave of space tourism reemerged. In 1997, SpaceDev was founded (and acquired in 2008 by Sierra Nevada Corporation) and in 1998, Space Adventures, Ltd. became the first company to begin working with private citizens interested in going to space.

Following suit, XCOR Aerospace was founded in 1999. The second notable space tourism company, and Bigelow Aerospace was founded the same year on the premise of putting a private space station into orbit.

All of these space tourism companies operated on a premise that cost should not be the primary consideration in getting to space. Their target customers quickly emerged as individuals who had made significant wealth in the dot-com bubble looked to the stars and tried to buy their place in it.

The 2000s: Space Tourism Takes Off

History of Space Tourism - 2000s

As the century turned, space tourism became a small but consistent reality. Space tourism history entered another chapter; the 2000s is when space tourism officially started.

In 2001, wealthy American Dennis Tito purchased a ticket to the Mir space station through MirCorp, a Russian commercial spaceflight company. After Mir was decommissioned in 2001, Tito worked with Space Adventures to transfer his $20 million ticket to the International Space Station. In April 2001, Tito began an almost-eight-day stay aboard the ISS. This made him the first private citizen who had purchased his ticket to space.

Over the next few years, six more private citizens went to the International Space Station:

  • 2002: South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth
  • 2005: American sensor hardware millionaire Gregory Olson
  • 2006: Iranian-American software millionaire Anousheh Ansari
  • 2007: Hungarian-American software billionaire Charles Simonyi (who visited again in 2009)
  • 2008: British-American video-game millionaire Richard Garriott
  • 2009: Canadian billionaire artist Guy Laliberté

Most of these individuals used Space Adventures to arrange their flights; all went to space aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, as NASA had banned tourists aboard space shuttles following the 2003 Columbia disaster.

In this same time, the more household names of space tourism began to rise to prominence. Starting in 2000, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin; in 2004, Richard Branson established Virgin Galactic. Rocket Lab was founded in 2006. Dozens of other companies that flooded into the industry too, hoping to capitalize on renewed public interest in space and a new swath of wealthy individuals ready to pay for access.

Despite this interest, during the early 2000s, space tourism has been limited to launches aboard Russian Soyuz aircraft and the only destination was the International Space Station.

The 2010s: Emergence of a Commercial Space Tourism Industry

History of Space Tourism - 2010s

As the second decade of the 2000s began, most people wanted to see more space exploration. Unfortunately, in the first few years, progress reversed, and by mid-2011 the U.S. Space Shuttle program flew its last flight. From that point onward, crews to the International Space Shuttle flew aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.

For the next several years, a variety of players continued making small moves in the market. Others entered the game, too:

    experienced both success and failure in the 2010s. With early success in guide flights, the company overcame a devastating loss in October 2014 when the VSS Enterprise broke up during a manned test flight. By late 2017, Virgin Galactic was performing glide test flights again. had a quiet decade. But, by the end of 2017, they’d made strides in testing new engine designs and unmanned test flights of their crew capsule.
  • Rocket Lab, a U.S.-based company which launches from New Zealand, had their long-anticipated first successful test flight in early 2018.
  • Zero2Infinity, a Spanish balloon-flight company, began developing strategic partnerships, as did U.S. balloon company World View Enterprises.
  • SpaceX is not a strictly space tourism company. But even they entered the industry in late 2017 by agreeing to fly two private citizens around the moon. They also have a contract to fly paying tourists to the ISS.

Other companies, including XCOR Aerospace and Armadillo Aerospace, attempted to enter the market too. However, they found that the financial and technical hurdles of aerospace were too great to overcome.

As we now enter the 2020s, the only questions are: When will space tourism be available for everyone? Who will be the first company to take customers to space? Would YOU go to space on a space tourism flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

History of space exploration

The War of the Worlds

Since ancient times, people around the world have studied the heavens and used their observations and explanations of astronomical phenomena for both religious and practical purposes. Some dreamed of leaving Earth to explore other worlds. For example, the French satirist Cyrano de Bergerac in the 17th century wrote Histoire comique des états et empires de la lune (1656) and Histoire comique des états et empires du soleil (1662; together in English as A Voyage to the Moon: With Some Account of the Solar World, 1754), describing fictional journeys to the Moon and the Sun. Two centuries later the French author Jules Verne and the English novelist and historian H.G. Wells infused their stories with descriptions of outer space and of spaceflight that were consistent with the best understanding of the time. Verne’s De la Terre à la Lune (1865; From the Earth to the Moon) and Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) and The First Men in the Moon (1901) used sound scientific principles to describe space travel and encounters with alien beings.

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In order to translate these fictional images of space travel into reality, it was necessary to devise some practical means of countering the influence of Earth’s gravity. By the beginning of the 20th century, the centuries-old technology of rockets had advanced to the point at which it was reasonable to consider their use to accelerate objects to a velocity sufficient to enter orbit around Earth and even to escape Earth’s gravity and travel away from the planet.

Tsiolkovsky

The first person to study in detail the use of rockets for spaceflight was the Russian schoolteacher and mathematician Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. In 1903 his article “Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices” laid out many of the principles of spaceflight. Up to his death in 1935, Tsiolkovsky continued to publish sophisticated studies on the theoretical aspects of spaceflight. He never complemented his writings with practical experiments in rocketry, but his work greatly influenced later space and rocket research in the Soviet Union and Europe.

Goddard

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard

Robert H. Goddard and rocket

In the United States, Robert Hutchings Goddard became interested in space exploration after reading works such as The War of the Worlds. Even as a young man, he dedicated himself to working on spaceflight. In his 1904 high-school graduation speech, he stated that “it is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” Goddard received his first two patents for rocket technology in 1914, and, with funding from the Smithsonian Institution, he published a theoretical treatise, A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, in 1919. Goddard’s claim that rockets could be used to send objects as far as the Moon was widely ridiculed in the public press, including The New York Times (which published a retraction on July 17, 1969, the day after the launch of the first crewed mission to the Moon). Thereafter, the already shy Goddard conducted much of his work in secret, preferring to patent rather than publish his results. This approach limited his influence on the development of American rocketry, although early rocket developers in Germany took notice of his work.

Magnified phytoplankton (pleurosigma angulatum) seen through a microscope, a favorite object for testing the high powers of microscopes. Photomicroscopy. Hompepage blog 2009, history and society, science and technology, explore discovery

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Robert Goddard: rocket

In the 1920s, as a professor of physics at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, Goddard began to experiment with liquid-fueled rockets. His first rocket, launched in Auburn, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1926, rose 12.5 metres (41 feet) and traveled 56 metres (184 feet) from its launching place. The noisy character of his experiments made it difficult for Goddard to continue work in Massachusetts. With support from aviator Charles A. Lindbergh and financial assistance from the philanthropic Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, he moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where from 1930 to 1941 he built engines and launched rockets of increasing complexity.

Oberth

The third widely recognized pioneer of rocketry, Hermann Oberth, was by birth a Romanian but by nationality a German. Reading Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon as a youth inspired him to study the requirements for interplanetary travel. Oberth’s 1922 doctoral dissertation on rocket-powered flight was rejected by the University of Heidelberg for being too speculative, but it became the basis for his classic 1923 book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (“The Rocket into Interplanetary Space”). The work explained the mathematical theory of rocketry, applied the theory to rocket design, and discussed the possibility of constructing space stations and of traveling to other planets.

In 1929 Oberth published a second influential book, Wege zur Raumschiffahrt ( Ways to Spaceflight). His works led to the creation of a number of rocket clubs in Germany as enthusiasts tried to turn Oberth’s ideas into practical devices. The most important of these groups historically was the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR; “Society for Spaceship Travel”), which had as a member the young Wernher von Braun. Although Oberth’s work was crucial in stimulating the development of rocketry in Germany, he himself had only a limited role in that development. Alone among the rocket pioneers, Oberth lived to see his ideas become reality: he was Braun’s guest at the July 16, 1969, launch of Apollo 11.

Other space pioneers

Although Tsiolkovsky, Goddard, and Oberth are recognized as the most influential of the first-generation space pioneers, others made contributions in the early decades of the 20th century. For example, the Frenchman Robert Esnault-Pelterie began work on the theoretical aspects of spaceflight as early as 1907 and subsequently published several major books on the topic. He, like Tsiolkovsky in the Soviet Union and Oberth in Germany, was an effective publicist regarding the potential of space exploration. In Austria, Eugen Sänger worked on rocket engines and in the late 1920s proposed developing a “rocket plane” that could reach a speed exceeding 10,000 km (more than 6,000 miles) per hour and an altitude of more than 65 km (40 miles). Interested in Sänger’s work, Nazi Germany in 1936 invited him to continue his investigations in that country.

Source https://www.britannica.com/science/space-exploration/History-of-space-exploration

Source https://spacetourismguide.com/history-of-space-tourism/

Source https://www.britannica.com/science/space-exploration/History-of-space-exploration

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