To the Moon and Spacewalk

- By Michael Signal
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To the Moon and Spacewalk

(1) On April 12, 1960, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. It was the second time that the Soviet Union had beaten the United States into Space. The Soviet Union had launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into orbit three years earlier. Americans had been beaten to the punch, twice. They didn’t want to be beaten again. No one was more determined for an American space victory than President John F. Kennedy. In 1961, he promised to land an American astronaut on the moon and return him safely to Earth. It would take the most powerful engine ever created to make that promise come true, but on July 20, 1969, American astronauts walked on the moon. They returned safely to Earth on July 24.
(2) The Soviet Union doesn’t exist today. Most of what used to be the Soviet Union is modern-day Russia, but in the 1960s, Americans saw the Soviet Union as a huge threat. For decades, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked against each other in the Cold War. There was no fighting in the Cold War, but there was a lot of showing off. Each side had to prove that it was more powerful than the other. The Soviet launch of the first satellite and the first person into space seemed to prove that their space program was the best in the world. People of the United States did not want the Soviet Union to be best at anything. America had to do something big. The Soviet Union had only sent people and things into orbit around the Earth. President Kennedy made a gamble. If the United States really could put a man on the moon, it would prove that the American space program was the best. But it would also be a huge defeat if the United States failed.
(3) The Soviet Union and the United States had both launched people and satellites into space, but they returned quickly to Earth or stayed in orbit around the planet. Sending men to the moon would be a much more difficult task. The first rockets that blasted into space were not nearly powerful enough to reach the moon. The United States needed to build a new rocket. A team of brilliant scientists designed the Saturn V rocket. It stood over 360 feet tall and carried about one million gallons of explosive fuel. The Saturn V’s F-1 rocket engines are the most powerful rocket engines ever produced. It was the only machine that would be able to place American astronauts on the moon.
(4) It took four days for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to reach the moon. But they did reach the moon, and they returned to Earth safely. The 1969 moon landing put the United States ahead of the Soviet Union for good in their Cold War battles over space. That victory was due in part to the determination of an American President and the American people, and in part to the mighty Saturn V rocket.
by Michael Signal
(1) A Soviet cosmonaut became the first man in space in 1961. Yuri Gagarin’s space flight was dangerous, but his Vostok 1 spacecraft protected him from the hazards of space. Almost five years later, another Soviet cosmonaut would become the first man in space, outside of a spacecraft. Alexei Leonov performed the first spacewalk in 1965. Leonov’s spacewalk proved that a person could survive in space, outside of a spacecraft. Today, astronauts and cosmonauts use spacewalks to perform all sorts of tasks.
(2) The first Americans walked in space a few months after Leonov did. Americans and Soviets had proven that they had the technology to keep a man safe, even if he exited his spacecraft. This was no simple task. There is no air to breathe in space, so a space suit must have its own air supply. There are other dangers too. Temperatures can be less than -100 degrees Fahrenheit, or they can soar to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Without a space suit, an astronaut would freeze to death, or bake to a crisp. Another danger comes from cosmic radiation. The Sun and other celestial objects emit radiation that can be very harmful to humans. On Earth, the atmosphere blocks much of the dangerous radiation. Floating outside of a spaceship, an astronaut’s only protection comes from a space suit. It is like a mobile, personal habitat.
(3) Today, astronauts have to perform repair missions and close inspections that cannot be done from inside of a spaceship. Some of the most useful spacewalks repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. In 1990, NASA launched the Hubble into Space. It was supposed to be the most powerful telescope ever launched into orbit, but it was broken. During several spacewalks, astronauts repaired the Hubble’s faulty mirror. After the repairs, the telescope worked better than scientists had hoped. The Hubble success proved that astronauts could safely perform complicated tasks during a spacewalk.
(4) It takes a lot of technology to keep a person safe in space. It takes even more to keep someone safe in space during a spacewalk. Space suits have proven that they can do more than just keep people safe. They give astronauts a portable air supply, regulate temperature, and allow them to complete complex tasks, all while floating through space. Spacesuits are essential mission equipment for any astronaut, and spacewalks are essential activities on most space missions.

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Word Lists:

Astronaut : a person who is trained to travel in a spacecraft.

Radiation : the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves or as moving subatomic particles, especially high-energy particles which cause ionization.

Orbit : the curved path of a celestial object or spacecraft around a star, planet, or moon, especially a periodic elliptical revolution

Satellite : an artificial body placed in orbit around the earth or moon or another planet in order to collect information or for communication

Cosmic : relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth

Telescope : an optical instrument designed to make distant objects appear nearer, containing an arrangement of lenses, or of curved mirrors and lenses, by which rays of light are collected and focused and the resulting image magnified.

Habitat : the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism

Launch : set (a boat) in motion by pushing it or allowing it to roll into the water

Safely : in a way that gives protection from danger or risk

Faulty : working badly or unreliably because of imperfections


Additional Information:

Rating: B

Words: 899

Unique Words : 329

Sentences : 64

Reading Time : 3:59

Noun : 342

Conjunction : 71

Adverb : 41

Interjection : 0

Adjective : 54

Pronoun : 34

Verb : 151

Preposition : 102

Letter Count : 4,164

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Formal

Difficult Words : 161

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