Space, known as outer space, is the area d outside Earth’s atmosphere. Space starts at the Kármán Line, about 100 km or 62 miles above the Earth. There is no air in space, and astronauts must have spacesuits to travel there; this also means that space is entirely black, as there is no air to scatter sunlight and create a blue sky as we have on Earth.

This lack of air also means that space is completely silent. Space is a vacuum, an area completely free of any matter, like air. However, air molecules transmit sound, so in space, sound can’t exist without it.

What is in Space?

We typically picture a big, empty void when we think of space, but many things exist. As we know, there are a vast amount of stars, as well as all of the planets in the Solar System. Some people think these are the only things in space, but there are lots of other exciting things up there:

  1. Asteroids
  2. Comets
  3. Meteoroids
  4. Meteors
  5. Meteor Showers
  6. Meteorites
  7. Dwarf Planets
  8. Kuiper Belt Objects
  9. Oort cloud Objects
  10. Robotic Spacecraft Explorers

What Do Astronauts Do in Space?

While being an astronaut may seem glamorous and exciting, living on the International Space Station involves performing many ordinary, mundane tasks. For example, the crew is responsible for maintaining the station as they would their own house, cleaning, checking equipment, and repairing or replacing anything broken. In addition, there are often lots of science experiments on board, so astronauts have to ensure they are operating correctly.

Spacewalks are probably the part of an astronaut’s job that we are most used to seeing on TV and in movies. They usually happen if the astronauts have to perform work outside the ship and can be extremely dangerous.

Something you may not know is that astronauts are required to do two hours of exercise every day. Being an astronaut is physically demanding work, so everyone must stay in excellent shape. Another reason why astronauts have to exercise so much is that, due to the lack of gravity in Space, it is easy for your muscles to go weak as you aren’t using them to walk around, etc. Astronauts have special machines that allow them to be strapped down to a treadmill to keep their bones and muscles active and strong.

Types of Astronauts

Two types of astronauts are sent into Space:

  1. Mission Specialist Astronauts

These astronauts usually come from an engineering, science, or medical background. They work with the pilots to conduct experiments, launch satellites and maintain the Spacecraft and equipment.

  1. Pilot Astronauts

These astronauts work as pilots and commanders for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Their job comes with a great responsibility as they must oversee the entire crew, the mission, and the safety of the flight.

Countries with Space Programmes

Across the world, a range of countries has space programs. The most active and prominent countries with space programs are as follows:

  • USA

One-third of the operational spacecraft in space belongs to the USA, making it one of the most prominent countries with space programs. The most famous and groundbreaking feats of space travel and exploration that the USA space program has launched include the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, the Mars Exploration Rover, and more.

The USA’s space program is led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, commonly known as ‘NASA.’

  • China

The second-largest fleet of operational spacecraft currently in orbit belongs to China. Currently, China operates a range of navigation satellites, remote sensing satellites, communication satellites, surveillance, and spacecraft.

Interestingly, China is one of just three nations worldwide capable of launching and carrying out a human-crewed space mission. Some of China’s most famous feats of space travel and exploration include the Tiangong-1 space station and the Chinese Lunar Exploration program.

China’s space program is led by the Chinese National Space Administration, also known as CNSA. However, the design and development of their launch vehicles, satellites, and commercial launch services are handled by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, also known as CASC.

  • Russian Federation

The Russian space program started in 1957, and the nation launched the world’s first successful orbital launch with Sputnik on the 4th of October 1957. Sputnik 1 was an artificial satellite. Since then, Russia’s space program has grown significantly, and it is now in control of the third-largest fleet of spacecraft in the world.

Some of Russia’s space program’s most famous space travel and exploration missions include the Soyuz series of spacecraft, the Salyut 1 space station, and the Lunokhod 1 space rover.

All of the civilian activities that are carried out as part of Russia’s space program are led by the Russian Federal Space Agency. The military and defense area of space travel, on the other hand, is handled by the Russian Space Forces.

  • Japan

In February 1970, Japan launched its first satellite into space, a few years after Russia. Japan then became the fourth nation in the world, after Russia, the USA, and France, to have the ability to launch its satellite into space. Today, Japan’s space program has expanded to include a fleet of communications, meteorological, earth observation, and astronomical observation satellites.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, also known as JAXA, is responsible for the nation’s aerospace research and development activities. Some of the most notable Japanese space travel and exploration missions include the Japanese Experiment Module, known as KIBO, Japan’s first human-rated space facility.

  • United Kingdom

Next up on this list of countries with space programs is the United Kingdom. In 1962, the United Kingdom launched its first satellite, Ariel 1, into space; this made it the third nation, after Russia and the USA, to launch a satellite into orbit. The nation’s space program has grown massively since Ariel 1 and now operates a range of civil and military communications satellites, earth observation satellites, and scientific and exploration spacecraft.

The United Kingdom Space Agency is responsible for the nation’s civil space program. Moreover, the United Kingdom also contributes financially to the European Space Agency, known as the ESA.

  • India

Since its establishment in 1975, the Indian space program has launched over 80 spacecraft. India’s first feat of space travel and exploration was the launch of its satellite, called on Aryabhata, which occurred on the 19th of April 1975.

The Indian Space Research Organization manages India’s space research activities, i.e., the ISRO. As it stands, India operates a range of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, and navigational satellites.

  • Canada

Canada launched its space program in 1962. The program started with the launch of Canada’s first satellite, Alouette 1. Nowadays, Canada has an entire fleet of satellites in space, including earth observation satellites, communications satellites, and science satellites. In addition, the nation also has a selection of spacecraft.

The agency in charge of the Canadian space program is aptly named Canadian Space Agency, also known as the CSA. Currently, Canada does not have its launch system and relies on the USA and Russia’s facilities to launch its spacecraft.

5 Fun Facts About Outer Space

  • Space is completely silent

Unlike here on Earth, Outer Space has no atmosphere, meaning there is no way for sound to travel around.

  • The footprints on the moon left by astronauts will last 100 million years

The moon has no atmosphere and wind, so its surface doesn’t get eroded over time. There is also no water on the moon, so the footprints won’t be washed away.

  • Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system

The average surface temperature of Venus is around 450 °C, which is 162 °C higher than Earth.

  • It is impossible to count the number of stars in Space

Space is so massive that it is impossible to say how many stars there are accurate. However, scientists and astronomers can use the number of stars in our galaxy, The Milky Way, to estimate between 200-400 billion stars.

  • One day on Venus is longer than a year on Earth

Venus has a slow axis rotation, which means it takes 243 Earth days to complete just one rotation. The orbit of Venus around the Sun takes 225 Earth days, meaning that a year on Venus is 18 days less than a day on Venus.

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