Trivia Break: Space Firsts Answered

>> Friday, August 21, 2009

Wow, I'm glad The Mother answered my post yesterday. I sincerely didn't know about the fruit flies and would have been a liar. I HATE that. Kudos to the Mother. I'm also learning that ancient history gets answers, technology and science and stuff, not so much.

Alright, here are some answers for you.

What was the first animal in space?
My bad. It was really fruit flies, sent up by the US in a couple of V2 rockets (courtesy of Von Braun and his transplanted team) in White Sands in 1947. The fruitflies were successfully recovered (for those of you rife with fruitfly awareness). But the US beat the Russians with more than insects, sending up a Rhesus monkey, Albert II, in a suborbital flight past the "Kármán line" into space (100 km altitude) in 1949 on another V2. The original Albert's mission only made it to 63 km altitude and Albert suffocated in flight, but Albert II didn't fair much better even though he was a true spacefarer. Although the flight was successful, the parachute failed to open and he died on impact.
What happened to the first animal to orbit the earth?
Poor Laika of Sputnik 2 in 1957. This dog was the first animal to orbit the earth and was sent up by the Soviets. Unfortunately, the probe was not designed to be recoverable, so the Soviets had sent up a poison dog food portion to euthenize her long before reentry (some five months after launch). Unfortunately, she only lived five or so hours after launch because the thermal control system didn't work as planned as she was desperately overheated (the cabin was at 40 degrees C [104 degrees F]) and stressed.

Who was the first man in space? The Mother nailed with with Yuri Gagarin who was the first person in space on Vostok 1 (1961) and the first person to orbit. The US tended to discount this flight (as much as they could) because Yuri (and several cosmonauts that followed him) didn't land with the craft but ejected and landed via parachute. The thinking was that the landing was too rough for people to survive. A month later, Alan Shepherd followed him into space in a suborbital flight and the US wouldn't orbit anyone until John Glenn in February 1962 (after the Soviets had pulled it off two more times).

Who was the first man to orbit the earth? And, yes, got both distinctions on his first flight.

Who was the first woman in space? Sally Ride was the first US woman in space, but the Russians sent up Valentine Tereshkova on Vostok 6 in 1963, some twenty years before Sally Ride flew on the Space Shuttle (STS-7). The Soviets/Russians didn't fly another woman themselves until 1982 when they sent Svetlana Savistkaya up on Soyuz T-7 (who also performed the first spacewalk by a woman in 1984).

Who performed the first EVA in space? The first EVA (as defined by being in suit exposed to space), was also a Soviet achievement by Alexei Leonov on Voshkod 2 in 1965. They used an inflatable airlock and Leonov never technically left it (which meant that, as a first, it has been challenged). In fact, Leonov had quite a few problems including going out the wrong way so he couldn't turn around to get back in. The suit wouldn't bend and he had to release a dangerous amount of his own pressure to bend over. He managed to get back in, but the whole excursion, which lasted only 12 minutes, dangerously overheated him. EVA (spacewalk) ain't easy, folks. Ed White performed a spacewalk later that year on Gemini 4 (22 minutes) and had difficulties closing the hatch but they managed it.
Who were the first people to orbit the moon? The crew of the Apollo 8 orbited the moon over Christmas in 1968, with the crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders.
Who was in the command module when Armstrong and Aldrin first walked on the moon? Michael Collins.
Who was/were the first people killed in space? This is a tricky one. Technically, very few have died in the actual unequivocal confines of space. Most have been lost during reentry and, in the case of Challenger, during launch. The first person to die during a spaceflight was Vladimir Komorov who died when Soyuz 1 tore to pieces during reentry in 1967. However, you don't tear up until you've hit atmosphere. The only people to die in space are the crew of Soyuz 11, Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, who were killed when a valve was jolted open when the service module was jettisoned prior to reentry. The crew tried to close the valve manually, but it was under a seat and took longer to close than it took to depressurize the cabin. No one knew what had happened until the capsule was opened on the ground. This happened in 1971. The Russians/Soviets have not lost anyone in space or a spaceflight since this incident.

Tomorrow, back to my questions.


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