The Sciences

Discover Special Issue: Fifty Years of Space Travel


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It has been exactly half a century since the Soviet Union launched into the heavens Sputnik, the first human-made satellite. In these 50 years, we have sent hundreds of people into space and unmanned craft into the farthest reaches of our solar system.

This special issue of DISCOVER tracks the most remarkable people, events, and discoveries from our first half-century of space travel. We are releasing some of the articles from the issue on our Web site. To read the entire issue, you'll have to pick it up from the newsstand, where it will be on sale until the end of the year.

INCREDIBLE JOURNEYStellar moments in the race toward the final frontier. By Boonsri Dickinson

THE MAN WHO LAUNCHED SPUTNIKAn exclusive interview with Oleg Ivanovskiy, the “Sputnikovist” in charge of the world’s first satellite. By Jim Oberg

FLYGIRLSCarpenter, computer operator, astronaut—it’s all women’s work.

LOST HORIZONSCrumbling launchpads, rusting gantries, and more mementos of the space race. By Kathleen McGowan

48 HOURS FROM DISASTERIn space, no one can hear you swear. By Stephen Cass

DAY IN THE LIFE OF MISSION CONTROLAn annotated map of who was who at “Houston” on July 20, 1969. By Stephen Cass

FIRST LOOKSWe’ve come a long way—and so have our planetary photographs.

SHAKEN AND STIRREDA trip in the “vomit comet” or a marathon dive in a massive indoor pool: another ordinary day for an astronaut trainee. By Jeanne Lenzer

THE REAL SPACE PIONEERSWhat we learned from animal astronauts. By Jessica Ruvinsky

CORONA: THE SECRET SPACE PROGRAMThe inner workings of the covert reconnaissance satellites of the 1960s. By Stephen Cass

THE PATH NOT TAKENMassive missions to Mars, ultrasonic passenger aircraft, and other aerospace marvels that never saw the light of day. By Steve Ditlea

GHOST IN THE MACHINETwo little robots crawl the surface of Mars, surviving beyond all expectations despite treacherous dunes and howling storms. By A. J. S. Rayl

SPACE FOR SALE Buzz Aldrin’s toothbrush and other items, sold to the highest bidder. By Boonsri Dickinson

7 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT MOON ROCKSWe knew they were safe when cockroaches gobbled them down and survived.By Boonsri Dickinson

BUILD YOUR OWN MARS ROVERPaper plans for a model of MER. By Erik te Groen

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