Moments In Space

1957 - The Space Age Begins


The Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957. Though only the size of a basketball, and weighing about 183 pounds, it inaugurated the Space Race, and even the Space Age. At the time, the announcement caused confusion and alarm but also admiration in the United States, as is clear from these excerpts from a CBS News special report broadcast two days later.
"How did the Russians beat us?" correspondent Howard K. Smith asks Homer Newell, science program coordinator of Project Vanguard, the U.S. satellite program (and future NASA official); Dr. Newell's reply, at least seen from the perspective of 50 years later, is hilarious.

A note on Daniel Schorr's report from Moscow: Only his voice is heard; what viewers saw on their screen is an early-generation teleprompter. With only one satellite in the air, there was, of course, no satellite transmission in 1957.

1961 - First Man in Space


1.Russians Are First
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space on April 12, 1961, when he successfully orbited the Earth in a 108-minute flight.

"I do not regard the first man in space [being Russian] as a sign of the weakening of the free world," said President John F. Kennedy at a press conference full of obviously frustrated people, excerpts of which are included in the CBS News Special Report that day.

2. The Red Stuff
Also interviewed was astronaut John Glenn, "This is not a stunt being done for international prestige or propaganda," he said, talking in general about the space program, before a scene of …well, stunts… that could best be described as weightless.

3. Kennedy's Commitment
In an address to Congress on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy proposed putting an American on the moon by the end of the decade. He acknowledged the space race. "But this is not merely a race," he said. "Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others." He called as well for telecommunications and weather satellites, and for a nuclear rocket "for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself."
His speech came 20 days after Alan Shepard, on May 5, became the first American to travel in space, albeit for only about 15 minutes.

1962 - John Glenn


When John Glenn orbited the earth three times on February 20, 1962, he was the fifth man to go into space (two Americans, two Russians preceded him); his trip wasn't even the longest of the five. But his flight, and his persona, touched a chord with the American public. The journey of Friendship 7 (Shepard's flight had been called Freedom 7) set the tone in many ways for the next decade of intense public interest in space, and epitomized all of the manned American missions - the six Mercury (one-man) flights from 1961 to 1963, the 10 Gemini (two-man) flights in 1965 and 1966 and even the 11 Apollo (three-man) missions from 1968 to 1972.

Live television captured the countdown - "T-minus 10…" and then the launch, and frequently followed up with animated graphics, narrated from beginning to end by the friendly baritone of Walter Cronkite.
Thirty-six years later, when he was 77 years old, John Glenn went up in space again, the oldest person ever to do so.

In 2002, at the commencement of the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the flight of the Wright Brothers (the first powered and sustained human flight) in 1903, Senator Glenn, then 81 years old, was interviewed at the National Air and Space Museum, in the Milestones of Flight Hall, surrounded by the Wright Brothers plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane flown solo across the Atlantic by Charles Lindburgh in 1927, Chuck Yeager's X-1 plane that broke the speed of sound in 1947, and the Friendship 7 space capsule.

1967 - Mission: The Moon


(AP)
Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chafee, the crew of Apollo I, die on January 27, 1967 after a fire breaks out during training in their command module.

(AP)
Four months later, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komaroz is the first person to die during an actual space flight. Between 1967 and 2007, 22 astronauts and cosmonauts have died while in a spacecraft.

1968


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Walter Cronkite recounts the mission of Apollo 8 on December, 1968, the first spacecraft to escape Earth orbit. William Anders, Frank Borman and James Lovell took two days to reach the moon, and orbited it ten times in 20 hours without landing.

1969 - First Man On The Moon


The Apollo 11 astronauts travel to the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on its surface for two and a half hours, on July 20, 1969.

In 2005, Ed Bradley talked with the famously reticent Neil Armstrong. (For a full transcript of the broadcast segment, read Being The First Man On The Moon.) When asked how he came up with his first words on the surface of the moon, Armstrong said: "I thought, 'Well, when I step off, I just gonna be a little step.' … But then I thought about all those 400,000 people that had given me the opportunity to make that step [that's the number of people working in one way or another on the moon mission] and thought 'It's going to be a big something for all those folks and, indeed, a lot of others that even weren't even involved in the project.' So it was a kind of simple correlation of thoughts."

He also described the lunar surface. "It's a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."

Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Charlie Duke, an astronaut on a later flight to the moon, talk about their participation in the 2007 documentary about the only 12 men who visited another world, "In The Shadow of the Moon."

Unmanned Space Traveling


(AP)
Though not given live television coverage, the unmanned spacecraft in many ways work even harder than their human counterparts. Voyager I and II are unmanned spaced probes launched in 1977 that over the course of three decades have been working their way beyond the solar system, taking pictures as they go.

1981 - The Present, The Space Shuttle Era


The first Space Shuttle is launched into space on April 12, 1981 -- and, unlike the Mercury, Gemini or Apollo programs that preceded it, the spacecraft lands back down on earth like an airplane, able to be used over and over again.

A look back 25 years later at the beginnings of the space shuttle.

1983


Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space. This was 20 years after Soviet cosmonaut Alentina Tereshkova became the first woman of any nationality in space.

1986 - Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster


On January 18, the 25th launch of a shuttle, the Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launching, killing all seven aboard.

1990 - Hubble Telescope


The telescope is launched into orbit around the earth, providing scientists with vast new stores of information (such as the date of the universe) and the public with some spectacular images, such as the birth of the birth of a star.

CBS reported on its 15th anniversary.

1998 - The International Space Station


The first two ships, one Russian, the other American, form the beginning of the International Space Station, and missions to it ever since have been making it larger. In 2006, Bill Harwood interviews via satellite two astronauts living at the station, one for six months (and about to go home), the other for just a week.

2000 - Space Diversifies


2003 - The Space Shuttle Disaster


February 1, The Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up on re-entry, killing all seven aboard.

A year later, two authors discuss the investigation into what went wrong.

It was not until two and half years after the Columbia disaster that there was a resumption of shuttle launches.

On the day of the launch of the Shuttle Discovery, CBS News interviewed the widow of Columbia shuttle astronaut Michael Anderson.

On October 15, 2003 Yang Liwei becomes the first astronaut from China. Two years later, two more Chinese astronauts go into space.

2004


President George W. Bush gives a speech laying out his plans for the future of space exploration, inlcuding the completion of the International Space Station by 2010, and new manned missions to the moon.

Over the Mojave Desert, the privately-built SpaceShipOne snagged its designers the $10 million prize from a private foundation for successfully launching twice into space.

2006


Anousheh Ansari, space tourist.

2007
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