Milestones in Space Exploration

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In the year 1608, Dutch lens maker Hans Lipperhay invented the world’s first telescope1 and a year later, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei perfected the telescope and revolutionized the way we look at space. Galileo’s observations2 included the observations of the Moon, phases of Venus, moons around Jupiter, and sunspots. Apart from concluding that the Moon does not have a smooth surface, Jupiter has more than one moon and that the Sun has sunspots, Galileo also made a controversial conclusion that Earth was not the center of the universe.

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With his observations of Venus, Galileo was able to figure out that the planet orbits the Sun, not the Earth and thus concluding the Sun as the center of our solar system. Galileo’s observations were foundation to the future accomplishments made in the field of astronomy. Although his work was brilliant, Galileo’s telescopic observations made him powerful enemies3. The Catholic Church at that time believed that Galileo’s observations challenged the writings of the Bible. After years of Galileo defending his work, he was eventually hauled before the Inquisition and was sentenced to a house arrest for an indefinite term.

After Galileo’s remarkable work, the research in the field of cosmology and astronomy continued for centuries. After years of research, observations and technological advancement, everything lead to what I believe to be one of the most significant achievement in space exploration, the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. Sputnik 1 was launched on 4 October 19574 by the Soviet Union. Although, the satellite’s biggest accomplishment was just getting into the space, but it did inspire incredible space exploration achievements.

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