This Friday, May 1st is National Space Day. How can you celebrate this day that highlights the achievements and benefits of space exploration with your students?
Visit DocsTeach, with its numerous primary sources related to the history of NASA and American space exploration, all from the holdings of the National Archives.
These primary sources come in a variety of forms, including written documents, photographs, and videos. Several DocsTeach activities teach students about the pioneering Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. These early manned space programs set the foundation for the modern space program.
The Mercury Program
The political tension between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II led to the Cold War and launched a Space Race between the two countries. This tension was the impetus behind the Mercury program. The United States wanted to prove it not only had the technology, but was capable of sending man into space.
The Gemini Program
In a speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, in September of 1962, President John F. Kennedy promised that the United States would send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. With this promise, the Gemini program’s goal was to learn new techniques that would later help the United States in its exploration of the moon.
The Process of Early Space Flight: The Gemini Program gives younger students the opportunity to investigate the process of early space flight by sequencing a series of photographs from the Gemini missions.
The Apollo Program
Early American space exploration culminated with the Apollo program reaching the moon. In Landing a Man on the Moon: President Nixon and the Apollo Program, older students will be able to analyze documents to understand the impact and significance of the Apollo program. Students are urged to question if the Apollo program ended the Space Race.
By 1975, Americans and Russians partnered in the Apollo-Soyuz program to further explore space. In Apollo-Soyuz: Space Age Détente, older students can continue learning about the complex relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union and the role that space exploration played in the past.