10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…blast off! Today Wonderopolis is leaving Earth and heading for space.

Growing up in today’s world, it can be hard to imagine a time when outer space was a true mystery. You already know men have walked on the Moon. The International Space Station orbits Earth and sends back all sorts of information.

The Hubble telescope travels throughout the solar system, sending amazing pictures back to Earth. The Mars Rover is exploring the surface of Mars and helping scientists learn new things every day.

Way back in the day, though, outer space was an unexplored frontier. The people of Earth could only look up at the sky and WONDER about what was up there.

All that changed on April 12, 1961. That day, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space. In the Russian Vostok 1 spacecraft, he made his historic 108-minute orbit around Earth — a place no man had gone before.

Gagarin’s accomplishment set off a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union known as the “space race.” The countries sought to outdo each other to accomplish newer and more daring feats in space. For example, Alan Shepard became the first American in space less than a month after Gagarin.

An even greater milestone was reached a few years later. On July 21, 1969, American Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Upon stepping onto the surface of the Moon, Armstrong spoke these famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Gagarin and Armstrong’s groundbreaking space travels paved the way for what was to come. From space shuttle flights to manned space stations orbiting the Earth, we now know much more about the world beyond Earth’s atmosphere than would’ve ever been possible without these pioneers!

Today, scientists tend to use modern technology in the form of unmanned space rovers and larger and larger telescopes to explore the outer reaches of space. Manned missions are becoming more and more scarce. Would you like to be on the cutting edge of future astronomical discoveries? If so, you might want to pursue a career in a field such as science, technology, engineering or mathematics. You never know when your name might be attached to the next spacecraft that explores beyond Mars into the outer reaches of our solar system!

84 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (22 votes, avg. 4.18 out of 5)
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    • MmmmmMMM! We love the Wonder guesses for tomorrow from our awesome friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class! It sounds like some of our Wonder Friends have a sweet tooth! We think a chicken dinner with chocolate ice cream sounds delicious… even before noon! Thanks for using your awesome imaginations to Wonder with us! We’ll see you tomorrow! :)

  1. Thoughts: I thought the video was entertaining because I laughed when the astronauts did things we couldn’t do on Earth. (Kevin) The video was interesting because we learned more about what life was like up there instead of what they went to explore. (Maria)

    Connections: This reminds me of the project we just completed about people going into space. (Isaiah) This reminds me of when my grandpa got out his telescope and he pointed out the planets to us. (Gabrielle)

    Predictions: Who invented ice cream? (Shalize) Do you go jolly for mangos? (Pedro) What is the candy bar “Whatchamacallit”? (Briahna) What is caramal? (Jake) Have you every had a strawberry? (Isaiah) What are the ingredients in ice cream? (Joe)

  2. Thoughts, connections, and questions: The video was interesting (Cassie). The video was boring (Savion). The video should be called “Weird People in Space” (Bryan). It seems like it would be fun in space (Aaliyah). Why were they fighting when neither of them had hair (the whole class wondered this!)? That looks like fun (Samantha)! Floating while you’re sleeping looks like fun (David)! I didn’t know anything about Yuri Gagarin (Stephanie).

    Predictions: Why do people eat sweets? (Cassie) What was the first candy ever made? (Jovon) How do you make candy? (Ashleigh) Which company makes the most candy? (Savion) What can you do with candy? (Erica) Did you know dark chocolate was healthy? (Christian) How can you make cake? (Bryan) What is the purpose of sugar? (Aaliyah) Why do sweets cause diabetes? (Josh) Why are sweets so good? (Destiny) Why do they make sweets? (Samantha)

    • WOOHOO, thanks for visiting us today, Page! We are glad you’re here! What was your favorite part of today’s out-of-this-world Wonder? :)

  3. We loved today’s wonder! The video was so funny. Ha ha ha! We would like to go to outer space. Theresa would like to walk on the ceiling. Justin would like to bring a friend with do flips in the shuttle. Gabriel and Tommy would like to do back flips and learn to fly. Dana would like to go around in cirlces on the ceiling. Amaya would like to eat floating ice cream.

    • We’re so happy you’re here today, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Courtney’s Grade 2 Class! In fact, we’re “over-the-moon”! Theresa, Justin, Gabriel, Tommy, Dana, and Amaya all have great ideas for what they will accomplish if they were in space! We hope you get to travel to space, or perhaps space camp, to try all these cool things out! Keep up the WONDERing! :)

  4. The Apollo 11 splashdown was in the Pacific and the Lunar Lander was launched to the moon in 1968. My grandma helped with building the splashdown module equipment so they could find it in the ocean!

    • WOWZA, that is an amazing story! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, Hunter, we bet it is SO COOL to know that your grandma helped those astronauts to safely land! We are so glad you shared what you learned and your family history, too! Thank you Hunter! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Moira! Thanks for telling us what you thought about today’s Wonder! Do you have a favorite part or fact that you learned? :)

    • WOW, it sounds like an awesome assignment, Ky Duyen Quang! We LOVE to explore space in a variety of ways! The space exploration sounds like a blast– we Wonder what your visual aid is? We’d love to hear all about it! Thanks for telling us all about your connection to today’s Wonder! :)

  5. Thoughts: (Kimora) I love how it showed astronauts floating in outerspace. (Xavier) I thought it was funny how he put his pants on. (Ben) I thought it was halarious how he stuffed that guy in a drawer.

    Connections: (Justin) I have an uncle that actually went into space. (Alyssa) I have seen the planet Jupiter on my telescope at home. (Quinten) I read a book about a famous black lady that went into space.

    Predictions: (Angel) Do you Like ice cream? (Chris) Who Invented the chocolate Easter Bunny? (Breon) How Do you Make a banana split?

  6. This is cool but I wish that the USA would have won the race for 1st one in space that cool but we were the first on the moon!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8^)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Ashley 96! While the Americans were not the first in space, you’re right about being the first to land on the moon! We love learning about the history of space exploration– look how far we have come! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :)

  7. Soo.. I thing that the Wonder of today was REALLY interesting… I always thought that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.

    • HOORAY, we’re so glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder, Andre’yanna! We sure learned a lot here at Wonderopolis! You’re right about Neil Armstrong– he was the first person to walk on the moon! However, before Mr. Armstrong made it to the moon, a Russian man named Yuri Gagarin was the first person to travel in space! He was a cosmonaut, which is the word used to describe any member of the Russian space program! :)

  8. I thought the first person in space was Neil Armstrong but I learned he was the first person on the moon remember me I left a comment on the post how to make a monster.

    • Welcome back to Wonderopolis, Marko! Thanks for sharing another great comment with us! We loved that you told us about what you learned– many of us thought Neil Armstrong was the first person in space, but thanks to today’s Wonder, we learned that is was actually Yuri Gagarin of Russia! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon, Marko! :)

    • Well thank you for sharing your comment, Bahiyyah! We love learning and we enjoy sharing cool Wonders with our Wonder Friends, young and old! We Wonder what you learned from today’s out-of-this-world Wonder? :)

  9. Thanks for the Wonder! It was Astro-tastic! We think tomorrow’s delicious wonder is about ice-cream, or cake! Can’t wait!

    • What a WONDERful new phrase, Gwen and Angus! We think you’re out-of-this-world AWESOME! Thanks for visiting us today and sharing your sweet guesses, too! We look forward to finding out what the next Wonder of the Day® will be! :)

  10. THOUGHTS:
    George – I thought it was funny that he could put his pants on while in the air.

    Kiona – Seeing the paper airplane float/spin was cool.

    Taylor – Seeing the flying/twisting banana fly was funny.

    Katelyn – I thought it was cool how when you are sleeping your hands float up.

    Shaonni – It was cool how slinky floated.

    CONNECTIONS:
    Jazmyn – It reminded me of swimming.

    Ashlee – Berenstain Bears go to the moon story.

    Ramon – It reminds me of floating like a balloon.

    • Good afternoon to our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Farr’s Class! Thank you for joining us today- we are thrilled with all your cool comments! George, Kiona, Taylor, Katelyn, and Shaonni: you shared some great thoughts! We love that today’s Wonder made you smile while you learned! :)

      Jazmyn, Ashlee, and Ramon: thank you for telling us all about the different connections you made! From swimming to Berenstain Bears to balloons- they are all great! :)

  11. I know that Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969…and the reason I know this, is because my birthday is July 20th, but not 1969!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Mina! Thank you for telling us that you and Neil Armstrong share the same birthday– how cool! You may be different ages, but we think it’s great that you were born on such a historical day! :)

  12. I really liked the video. My favorite part was when they showed the guy eating a “floating banana”.

    My guesses for tomorrow…
    What are the ingredients in ice cream?
    Can cupcakes be healthy?
    Who invented chocolate?

    • We are happy to hear that you enjoyed today’s Wonder video, Megan10! It was amazing to see how life in space would be! Thank you for visiting us and sharing your sweet guesses! Perhaps we’ll see you tomorrow to find out what the Wonder is! :)

    • YUM, we look forward to WONDERing with you again tomorrow Isabella! We are so excited that so many of our Wonder Friends enjoyed the video today– what a cool way to see how life in space really is! :)

  13. I think that tomorrow’s wonder will be dance or flowers. I loooooooooooooooooooooved the video sooooooooooo much it was sooooooooo funny. I loooooooooooved the guy eating the banana!

    • Well thanks for sharing your awesome guesses with us, Wonder Friend Cool Guy! We look forward to finding out what the next Wonder will be! What is your favorite part of our space Wonder today? :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Ninja! We appreciate your comment- and we are working on removing those red warnings! Wonderopolis will be back to normal soon! Thanks for telling us about the issue! :)

  14. Wow. :-) I think space is really interesting!! It’s fascinating to learn about gravity and air and stuff. :-) I think and I HOPE tomorrow’s wonder is about sweets?

    • Welcome back, Wonder Friend Deja! We’re so glad you’ve been WONDERing about space exploration with us! We Wonder if you would like to go to space one day? Or would you like to work on the ground floor to help the astronauts complete their mission? We hope you enjoy tomorrow’s Wonder… it’s tasty! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Daniel! You’re right about Neil Armstrong– he was the first person to set foot on the moon! He walked on the moon and the world watched! However, we learned in our Wonder that Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, was the first person in space! Together, these two men, and their crews, helped us learn more than we ever could have known about outer space! :)

    • WOW that would be a cool experience, wouldn’t it be, Decker? We bet it would take some getting used to if we were floating around in zero Gravity all day! We like your imagination, Wonder Friend! :)

  15. That is super cool. :) The first person in space went on my birthday. :) But I was not even CLOSE to being born. Even my momma and daddy weren’t born I bet. That is super cool. I like it when the person eats that banana! Thanks for the wonder!

    • What an awesome connection to such a historical moment, Blakeleigh! We learned that you celebrate your birthday the same day the first person went to space! And another Wonder Friend, Mina, celebrates her birthday on the same day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon! HOORAY for birthdays and historical events! :)

      We bet it would take some practice to eat our food in space! We’d still be chasing it in the air! Thanks for your comment today, Blakeleigh! :)

    • We are glad you’re WONDERing with us– it’s cool to learn about new things together! It’s okay if you don’t plan to go up in space! :)

    • You are so very right, Wonder Friend Ella! We learned all about the first person in space, and we’re happy you shared another cool fact about astronauts with us, too! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

    • Great guess, Wonder Friend Kara! We learned that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, but there was someone else who went to space! Check out the Wonder for more information; you’ll learn a LOT! :)

    • Hi Makenzie! Many believe that Sergei Korolyov of Russia designed the first spaceship; however, NASA built the first modernized spaceship! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  16. The stars are big balls of gas. Planets are a ball of gravity and a planet has an atmosphere. Are aliens living in space?

    • The video was awesome I want to know all of the activity’s you could do in space and why did the slinky not float up in the space ship.

      • Hi again Vince! We’re so glad you’re still WONDERing with us! The spaceship has setting where it can control the gravity which is why the slinky did not float! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Hi Ben! It would be hard to play football in space with the lack of gravity! We would love to see someone try though! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  17. I learned about what happens in space, but you mostly float and neil armstrong was the first to land on the moon. In the video I liked the part when the guy was putting on his pants! I wonder if you put a real live living sloth in space, what its reaction would be!?

    • Hi Logan! Thanks so much for WONDERing with us! If you throw the football out in space, it would float because of the lack of gravity! :)

  18. Hi Wonderopolis! I love this wonder! It is so cool! I never thought that the first person in space was Yuri Gagarin. I always thought it was Neil Armstrong or John Glenn! It really made me wonder!

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who was the first person in space?
  • Who was the first person on the Moon?
  • Could you be a future space pioneer?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

It’s too late for you to be the first person in space, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t frontiers yet to explore. Grab an adventurous friend or family member and check out one or more of the following activities:

  • If manned missions to Mars or other planets become possible one day, what planet might you want to visit? Jump online to check out Planets for Kids, a website dedicated to exploring astronomy from a kid’s perspective. Check out the information about the planets in our solar system. Which one would you most like to explore? Why?
  • Of all the space vehicles that have been used over the years, which one would you want to take a space flight in? Head to the Internet to explore the Historic Spacecraft website and start with the Apollo Space Capsules. Then use the navigation links on the left side of the page to check out all sorts of other historic spacecraft. Which spacecraft do you wish you could have piloted in the past?
  • Are you a pioneer at heart? If you had the chance, would you be a space explorer? Where would you go? Let’s pretend that NASA is planning the first manned mission to Saturn. Would you volunteer to go? Why or why not? What would be exciting about the trip? What might be scary? Do you think you would become famous? What would you do as a famous astronaut? Write a short story or draw a picture that shows what you think the trip would be like. When you’re finished, share your story or picture with your Wonder Friends on Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Astronaut Health Risks Science Update, you’ll hear about two of the health risks astronauts on long-term space missions may face that their predecessors didn’t have to worry about.

Wonder What’s Next?

Whatever you call it, tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is delicious!

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