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!

Wonder What's Next?

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