First United States astronauts were appointed in 1959. All seven original astronauts (Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton) were men, and they were all in the military. Children could investigate present astronaut requirements. Who are some of our present astronauts? How have astronaut requirements changed since the beginning of the program?
Saint Lawrence Seaway began operating in 1959. Construction began in September, 1954. Over 6000 people had to be relocated because a reservoir would cover their land. Canada and the United States each operate a portion of the 450-mile seaway. It connects Lake Erie to Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean. Children could read Gail Gibbons’s The Great St. Lawrence Seaway. Children could also visit: Seaway. They could study the Suez Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway in more detail. How are the two alike? How are they different?
Rocket Mail took place in 1959. The United States Postal Service launched a missile, loaded with commemorative letters, from the USS Barbero, located off the northern coast of Florida. The missile safely parachuted down with its contents in Florida. There was thought that rockets could quickly deliver mail from continent to continent, but rocket costs and numerous setbacks halted the plans.
Explorer VI was launched in 1959 and transmitted the first photographs of earth taken from space. The satellite also transmitted data about different types of energy. The satellite went into decay on July 1, 1961.
Hawaii became the fiftieth state of the United States in 1959. Evidence indicates people lived on the islands as early as AD 500. James Cook first visited Hawaii in 1778, and he died there in 1779. Honolulu is the state capital, and the state’s nickname is the Aloha State. Since the development of the jet airplane, the islands have become quite a tourist spot. Scientists are trying to channel the geothermal energy from the volcano Mauna Loa. The state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Children could visit an Internet site at: Hawaii. Idea: Children could plan a simple luau.
Luna 2, a Soviet spacecraft, was launched in 1959. On September 14, 1959, it became the first spacecraft to land on the moon. It discovered that the moon had no magnetic field.
Far side of the moon was first photographed in 1959. The Soviet Union’s Luna 3, launched October 3, 1959, took 29 pictures. Then, when the spacecraft came closer to earth, it transmitted seventeen of the pictures. The photographs were of lesser quality than later photographs, but they showed that the far side of the moon was very different from the side we can see. The far side is more mountainous.
Antarctic Treaty was signed by twelve nations in 1959. The original twelve countries are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia (as Soviet Union), South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States. Today 50 countries recognize the treaty. The continent will be kept as a scientific preserve, and no nation can colonize it. Children can view great pictures of Antarctic animals at: Antarctic Animals.
Alaska became the forty-ninth state of the United States in 1959. Alaska is by far the biggest state, but only two states have less population. The state has experienced booms in furs, fishing, whaling, gold, and oil. Juneau is the state capital. Children can visit an Internet site at: Alaska. Idea: Children could research Alaska more and try to predict its next economic focus.
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959. Work began in 1951, and it incorporated music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty. Originally it was not a successful movie, but it is now a classic.