Space travel is one great wonder of our age. There was a time when man could not even think of landing on the moon. But the achievements of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 have put the world to unbelievable surprise. After exploring the earth’s bosom and after deep into oceans man turned his hand to the planets. His beginnings were very humble. Starting from gliders and balloons, now he has successfully launched sputniks and rockets of the surface of the moon. It was a day of great achievement when on July 21, 1969, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, the pilots of Apollo 12, set their foot, on the moon. No doubt they were in there space suits and walked on the surface of the moon only for a few minutes, but this showed that man had conquered space.
The race for the conquest of space started in 1957, when the Russians launched their first rocket, called the ‘Satellite’, into space. This satellite was fired into space by a three stage rocket engine which gave it a velocity of about 8000 meters a second. This satellite circled round the earth hundreds of times and ultimately exploded like a shooting star. The second sputnik which was a bit larger than the first carried a dog named Laika into space. This showed that it was quite possible to send living creatures into space. This satellite too got destroyed after entering the upper atmosphere. The third sputnik was launched on May 15, 1958. It was filled with solar batteries and radio transmitters. But this sputnik too meets the same fate and was soon destroyed.
Side by side with Russians, the Americans too made experiments in space travel. First, they launched small capsules into space. These were numbered as Apollo one, two, three etc… The tenth space explorer was piloted by Major Gordon Cooper. It circled round the earth 24 times and then landed safely. Then Apollo 11 achieved a greater success. It reached quite near the moon and took several photographs of its surface. Then Apollo 12 was set into space in July 1969. It had the three men onboard. This rocket reached within a few miles distance from the moon and then the two men of the crew, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, actually landed on the surface of the moon. They walked on the moon and picked up some stones which they brought back to the earth. The whole show was transmitted to the earth with the help of powerful cosmic cameras. This was a day of great rejoicings for humanity. Man had conquered space. The moon which had always been a topic of fairy tales had at last been surmounted. In this race the Americans have left the Russians behind. Thus the day is not far when the moon will become a pleasure spot for tourists from the earth.