In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Space exploration

Context

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

Download programmes

A collection of programmes to download as mp3 files at any time. 2013-2014 now added.

Podcasts

Podcasts

Current podcasts

Spring 2014 podcasts available from 14/01/2014. Never miss a programme!

WW1 commemoration

WW1 Performance Pack

WW1 Performance Pack

Commemorate the outbreak of WW1 by staging our specially-written play 'Archie Dobson's War'.

Private Peaceful - download now!

Podcasts

Private Peaceful

Don't miss it - all 13 episodes are now available to download but only until 26/05/2014.

Contact us

Contact us

Contact us

We welcome your feedback, suggestions and pupils' work.

Teacher's notes

Teacher's Notes

Online Teacher's Notes

Notes to support the programmes are simple to print or download as pdf.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.