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Spaceflight Pioneers

Montgolfier Brothers ( 1782 )

It has only been since 1782 that we've managed to get our feet off the ground literally. This was made possible by the French inventor brothers 'Joseph Michel Montgolfier' and 'Jacques tienne Montgolfier' who launched the worlds first hot air balloon. It was nearly a year later that the first flight of a human took part after having persuaded the King to allow it.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Zeppelins apart from terrorising Britain during the first world war were also used in peace time. His story is that he was born in 1838 and grew up in Germany. Before building Zeppelins, he fought in the American Civil War on the side of the Union. His first experiments were whilst in the U.S. before returning to Germany to start building his own. His first successful airship flew in 1900 and were used mainly for peaceful purposes. He managed to persuade the German military to use Zeppelins as bombers up until he died in 1917.

Wright Brothers

The first flight of an aircraft took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on 17th December 1903. This was the first time that gas wasn't the main fuel used to get the vehicle off the ground. They employed a variety of scientific and mathematical methods to succeed in their aim.

General Walter Dornberger and Wernher von Braun

Two Germans who helped in the design and development of the V2 missile. When the war ended, von Braun handed himself into the Americans and got spirited away to the US as part of Operation Paperclip. He played an important part in the future US space project. Dornberger is less certain, he was either also spirited away from German by the Americans or moved over there after being released by the British. Both men escaped being tried and found either guilty of being a war criminal or innocent by just doing their job. Whether they got into the country through the Americans going through the proper channels through vetting or smuggled in is unclear.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin was the first man into space after scientists had managed to send a dog into space called 'Laika'. His journey was brief and he didn't control the ship. The scientists were worried that he might loose control whilst up there and do the wrong thing. He proved that it was possible to get man up to space and back.

Lieutenant Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina was the first female into space and the fifth Russian Cosmonaut to venture up . Her journey happened on 16th June 1963. It wasn't for another nineteen years before another female went into space.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong is America's most famous astronaut, his achievement was to become the first man on the moon, beating the Russians for the first time. They had put the first satellite, dog, man and woman into space. The Russians had senta lunar lander (Luna 15) to land on the moon, get samples and return to Earth first. It was their attempt to upstage the Americans, however Luna 15 crashed. To this date, only Americans have landed on the moon.

Helen Sharman

It was not until 1991 that a Briton finally got into space. Helen Sharman didn't plan to go into space like Sir Michael Foale who had set his sights on doing since he was young. She only went up in space after competing against other people wanting to be the first Briton in space. The organisers of the competition was a coalition of British Industries.

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