May 5th was National Astronaut Day. Encourage the study of space science, by sharing the stories of these amazing astronauts in history.
On April 12, 1961 The Soviet Union took lead in the Space race by sending up a one manned spacecraft called the Vostok 1. At a maximum height of 203 miles Gagarin traveled around the earth in 108 minutes. Vostok 1 had no engines to slow its decent back to the ground therefore at four miles up Gagarin ejected and parachuted down to earth. He was considered an international hero and traveled around the world celebrating the Soviet achievement. He died on March 27, 1968 while test-piloting a MiG-15. In July of 1969 Apollo 11 crew members left behind a commemorative medallion on the moon in remembrance of his great contribution to space exploration.
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go into space; in 1963 she went up with Vostok 6. She spent close to 3 days in space and traveled around the Earth 48 times. There was an error in the navigation software that caused the ship to move away from Earth. Luckily, Tereshkova was able to detect the danger and eventually got the ship back on track and landed safely. After her flight, she traveled the globe promoting Soviet science and politics.
Neil Armstrong is arguably the most famous NASA astronaut of all time. He is most famous for being the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. He was known for focusing on the efforts of his entire crew even though he was in the spotlight. He also had a sense of humor. When asked what it felt like to have his foot prints on the moon, he said, “I kind of hope that somebody goes up there one of these days and cleans them up.”
Dr. Sally Ride
Sally Ride was the first American woman to go to space in June of 1983. She piloted the Challenger and later became a advocator of science education and a role model for generations of girls to come. Ride shaped the future of space aeronautics. She believed that is was important to encourage students (especially girls) to study in STEM fields. Obama said a few words about her blasting through the glass ceiling, and her fascinating life story is told by a journalist Lynn Sherr who wrote a book on sally Ride called “Sally Ride: America’s First Woman In Space”
These famous astronauts are just a few you can use to inspire your students to pursue STEM related fields regardless of their background. For more information on getting your students interested in STEM visit our blog.
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