People have always wanted to know more about the other planets in our universe. Long ago, they found out that our earth is not flat but round, and that the moon goes round the sun. Telescopes were built to see planets far away in space better. But, of course, this was never  enough.

Men have always thought about visits to other planets and many people have written stories about journeys in space and what men hoped to find there. Often the ideas in these stories are strange and wrong. We know that now because real men have visited space and can tell us what life there is like.

Laika Boss
Laika Boss – The first dog in space

 The work of scientists in the last twenty years has shown the world that men can travel outside the earth’s atmosphere in spaceships. These scientists all worked on the same idea: space travel. But it is sad that they did not work together.

There were two teams who worked separately, one in the USSR and one in the USA. Many of them were  Germans who left their country in 1945 after the Second World War. Wernher Von Braun, who worked for the USA, was the most famous one. They all tried to build rockets to go into space. Each of these countries wanted to be the first in space. So a race into space was started.

Space exploration
The future of human space exploration – Space Travel


 In 1957, the world outside the USSR learned a new word: ‘sputnik‘. This is the Russian word for a satellite, a planet which goes round and round another planet. A real satellite (like the moon, which is the earth’s satellite) makes a circle round its planet, called an orbit. Sputnik I, which was a small satellite, went into the earth’s orbit and sent back radio signals. Then, after a month, Sputnik 2 followed. And this time, Laika, a dog, was aboard.

Then the USA came into the race. The first satellite they tried to send into space caught fire. The second, Explorer I, went into orbit without any problems and sent back a lot of interesting information  about the earth’s atmosphere. For a journey to the moon, scientists had to build new spaceships. These new spaceships, called ‘probes’, could move in space freely.

Source: NASA
How to go to Mars?


Again the Americans tried several times, but could not launch their first moon probe. The Soviets also had problems with their probes,  called Luniks. At last, Lunik 3 reached the moon and went into orbit round it.

For the first time people on earth saw pictures of the other side of the moon. In 1961, the Soviets were ready to take a risk. Yuri Gagarin flew into space. This 27-year-old Soviet was the first real spaceman. His spaceship made one orbit of the earth, and then landed safely. A few weeks later, the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, followed him into space. Soon more Americans and more Soviets saw the world from space. They said it was very beautiful.

Flights continued and men stayed in space longer and longer. Finally, in 1969, after long preparations, the USA was ready for the longest space journey in all those years. Apollo 11 was sent to the moon with three astronauts. They brought back rock pieces and moon dust for the scientists to examine.

Space Ship Time Schedule
Space Travel Tours


A. What do the following refer to?

1. ‘there’ (line 7):

2.’one’ (line 17):

3. This’ (line 21):

4. ‘him* (line 41):
5. ‘if (line 43):


B. Mark the best choice.

1. Line 4, ‘this’ refers to .

a) planets far away in space b) telescopes c) seeing planets better d) learning about the earth


2. Line 8, ‘that’ refers to

a) the ideas in the stories b) the strange stories c) what the men hoped d) that the ideas are wrong

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