The Christian Science Monitor

Explorer 1 at 60: How has space travel changed us?

Rocket fire streaked across the dark evening sky over Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 31, 1958. The United States had just launched a satellite into orbit, piercing the barrier between our world and the rest of the universe.

The oblong Explorer 1 satellite wasn’t the first human-made object in space. The Soviet Union’s Sputnik claimed that title on Oct. 4, 1957. But the first successful launch of an American satellite made space exploration an international endeavor, paving the way for scientific discoveries of cosmic proportions.

In the 60 years since, our mechanical envoys and human voyagers have gone to places previously imagined only in science fiction. But it hasn’t all been about studying other worlds. Scientists have also turned a mirror back on our own

Seeing ourselves anewKinship with the cosmos

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