The Final Frontier.
The new frontier of outer space captured the imaginations of scientists and of the public in the 1960s. Astronomers discovered quasi-stellar objects, or quasars, and beamed radio messages to the stars in a search for intelligent life on other worlds. Advances in radio astronomy led to new knowledge about planets within the solar system and the stars beyond.
The Soviet-American Space Race.
Perhaps even more dramatic were the advances made in the area of manned space flight as a result of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the late 1950s the Soviet Union shocked the United States by being the first nation to place a satellite in space. The launch of Sputnik I on 4 October 1957 had a chilling effect on most Americans, who realized that the same technology could be employed in atomic warfare. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed in 1958 to pool government resources for the formation of an American space program, and the race was on.
A Lofty Goal.
In 1960 the Soviets launched two dogs and returned them safely to Earth. NASA, in the initial stages of Project Mercury, launched a chimpanzee named Ham and safely recovered him. Ham's flight was encouraging but not perfect, so NASA project director Wernher...
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