Modern History/Space Exploration/Space Race

The Mercury Capsule

Sputnik Flies


The Men

Werner Von Braun (rightmost)

Werner Von Braun

German scientist and creator of the German V-2 rocket which devastated London during WWII. He would prove instrumental in the design and creation of technology for the space program.

Yuri Gagarin

Russian cosmonaut; first man in space.

Vladimir Komarov

Russian Cosmonaut; First man to die in space. After a short period in space upon re-entry the parachutes on his spacecraft failed to open to slow the vehicle descent. Russian spacecraft of the era landed on earth rather than in the ocean as did the United States' spacecraft 'splashdown'. The parachutes of Cosmonaut Komarov's craft were burnt off during re-entry and this was noticed by observers in the upper part of the atmosphere. Communication with the spacecraft was established soon after re-entry and Cosomonaut Komarov was informed of the development and appraised that nothing could be done. There was time to inform his wife and have her present in the control room for the final moments. This man has been called a hero.

Alan Shepard

American astronaut; first American in space. Would later walk on the moon on Apollo 14 after battling an inner ear disease.

Neil Armstrong

American astronaut; first man to walk on the moon.

Jim Lovell

American astronaut; commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

The Machines




Mercury Missions



A two man space craft that was instrumental in developing docking and EVA techniques. Gemini hardware was used to perform the first manned-unmanned docking in space.

Gemini Missions



A three man space craft consisting of a service module, which contained the engines and most of the flight hardware, and the command module, which was the portion of the spacecraft that would return to Earth.

Apollo 11 carried the Lunar Module to the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, where it touched down for the first manned lunar landing. Apollo would serve as the primary NASA spacecraft until it was replaced by the Space Shuttle Transportion System (STS).

Apollo Missions

Lunar Module


A spider-like spacecraft composed of a descent stage, which carried the descent and ascent stages to the surface of the moon, and an ascent stage, which used the descent stage as a launchpad to return to the Apollo command module in lunar orbit.

The lunar module was stored in the uppermost stage of the Saturn V rocket, until it was retrieved by the Apollo spacecraft through a docking maneuver.

The Legacy