Since 1945, scientific research and technological development have transformed life for much of the world. Masses of new inventions, the computer revolution, and advances in the medicine and biology have had enormous impact. Among the most dramatic advances was the exploration of space.
American astronaut Edwin Aldrin walked on the moon in July 1969. Reflected in his visor are fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to step on the moon's surface, and the lunar landing module.
By the second half of the twentieth century, there were few places on Earth that people had not begun to explore. Space was seen as the “final frontier”—an unknown world filled with opportunity. Within a few short decades, people had developed the transportation technology to explore space and gained knowledge about this new frontier
Rockets are projectiles or vehicles propelled by the ejection of burning gasses from the rear of the rocket. In the early twentieth century, pioneers in rocketry like the American physicist Robert Goddard probed the potential of liquid-fueled rockets.
Goddard believed that a rocket could carry people to the moon. At first people met his ideas with disbelief, but German scientists took an interest in Goddard's work. During World War II German scientists, led by Wernher von Braun, developed Germany's V-2 rockets that flew across the English Channel to rain down on London. Von Braun later became a leader in the U.S. space program.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to see which superpower would take the lead in space exploration.