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Space exploration


1950s / 1960s. Space exploration.

On 4 October 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik – the first man-made object in space. As the Sputnik satellite orbited the Earth it sent back a radio signal that was picked up around the world.

A new era of human exploration and achievement had dawned.

Sputnik was followed a month later on 3 November 1957 by Sputnik II, carrying a dog called Laika, who became the first living creature in space. Laika did not survive the flight, but in May 1959 two monkeys were launched into space by the USA and both returned alive.

The race to get the first person into space was eventually won by the USSR, when Yuri Gagarin became the first cosmonaut to orbit the earth in April 1961. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman cosmonaut in 1963 and two years later another cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, became the first person to perform a space walk.

The American space programme had lagged behind the USSR but everything changed in 1961 when President Kennedy decided that the USA should commit itself to landing a man on the moon before 1970. He said: ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth’.

Kennedy’s speech paved the way for the Gemini and Apollo missions and the goal of ‘a man on the Moon’ was achieved in July 1969.

Images sourced from NASA.

Programmes to download

Programmes to download at any time

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A collection of programmes to download as mp3 files at any time. Includes dance and music.



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'War Horse' by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse

All 10 episodes of Michael Morpurgo's famous story are now available to listen to online.

'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden

Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

Carrie's War

Catch up on 'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden. All 10 episodes are now available to listen to online.

Perform our School Musicals

Perform our School Musicals

School Musicals

Our performance scripts for 9 to 11s, complete with music, songs and special effects to download.

Macbeth for mobile and tablet

Macbeth videos for mobile and tablet

Macbeth animations

Watch Macbeth animated in 8 short video episodes for mobile/tablet. See the Teacher Notes.

Curriculum for Excellence

100 years since World War 1

WW1 Performance Pack

WW1 Performance Pack

Commemorate 100 years since WW1 by staging our specially-written play 'Archie Dobson's War'.

Private Peaceful - listen now!

Click to listen to Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful

All 13 episodes of Michael Morpurgo's moving WW1 story are available to listen to online.

Teacher's notes

Teacher's Notes

Online Teacher's Notes

Notes to support the programmes including details of all the series content.