July is a memorable month in space exploration. In fact, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lift off is on July 16th, Moon Day is on July 20th and the anniversary of NASA is July 29th. Check out Questia’s topic page on space exploration for more information on these memorable dates in space exploration history. To honor these historic events, we at Questia are declaring the entire month of July Space Exploration Month! And, where would we be without the brave individuals who chose to boldly go where no one had previously gone before? Astronauts and cosmonauts have played a huge role in space exploration throughout the decades, so in honor of these noble heroes, we’ve granted access to reference works on the top five most researched astronauts and cosmonauts for free for an entire month. Enjoy them while they’re available for this limited time!
- John Glenn: In the article, Godspeed John Glenn: 50 Years since His First Flight, it outlines the historic moment in our American history when astronaut John Glenn climbed into Friendship 7 as the first American to orbit the earth. “Glenn circled Earth three times in five hours, putting America on even footing with the Soviet Union. Unlike the secretive Soviet space program, NASA conducted its manned launches on live TV” (“Godspeed John Glenn: 50” 4). In fact, Glenn was such a seasoned astronaut that he even became the oldest person to fly in space. He was seventy-seven years old when Discovery launched in 1998. [“Godspeed John Glenn: 50 Years since His Flight.” Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) 17 Feb. 2012: 4. Questia. Web.]
- Neil Armstrong: America in the Sixties—Right, Left, and Center: A Documentary History provides an intimate look at the space program and its importance to our nation. Neil Armstrong, most known for his famous quote, “this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” was one of the first astronauts to land and walk on the moon’s surface. During a time in our history where men struggled to get along, Apollo 11 became something much more important. “The mission to the moon transcended the political conflict and social turmoil that marked the sixties. Economic prosperity and scientific and technological progress made the space program possible” (Levy 251). [Levy, Peter B., ed. America in the Sixties–Right, Left, and Center A Documentary History. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Questia. Web.]
- Yuri Gagarin: Yuri Gagarin was a young Russian pilot and was touted as being the “first human to journey about our planet” (French 1). The book, Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965, discusses this exciting time in our history when space exploration was at our fingertips. President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote, “Yuri Gagarin’s courageous and pioneering flight into space opened new horizons and set a brilliant example for the spacemen of the two countries” (French 1). [French, Francis, and Colin Burgess. Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Questia. Web.]
- Buzz Aldrin: Buzz Aldrin was the other astronaut alongside Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11’s successful mission to land on the moon. In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility 1965-1969 outlines Buzz Aldrin’s experience that led up to his successful Apollo 11 mission. Aldrin’s father was an aviation manager in the oil industry and introduced his son to flight, supposedly taking “his son for his first airplane ride when Buzz was two years old” (French 123). Aldrin attended West Point and later MIT, and was also an astronaut on the successful Gemini 12 space flight. [French, Francis, and Colin Burgess. In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Questia. Web.]
- Christa McAuliffe: The story of Christa McAuliffe is perhaps one of the most tragic tales in NASA history. The book Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy outlines her amazing journey from teacher to space adventurer. “Christa was an innovative social sciences teacher who believed that the ordinary person contributed as much to history as did presidents and kings” (Burgess Foreword). On the morning of January 28, 1986, Challenger roared to life and started its ascent into the sky, but “seventy-three seconds into the flight, a massive fireball flashed along the length of the spacecraft and a titanic explosion blew Challenger apart” (Burgess 78). Christa McAuliffe left a lasting impression not only on the space program, but on the United States. [Burgess, Colin. Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. Questia. Web.]
Ever wonder what the Earth looks like to astronauts as they’re blasting into space? Check out the video, “Cosmic Journeys: What an Astronaut’s Camera Sees” on SpaceInfo.org.