Credit: NASA – Inside the ISS

Space is explored by studying it using powerful telescopes on earth or by launching manned spacecrafts or unmanned probes to get a closer view by taking clearer images or even get samples such as rocks, dust and other material found on moons, asteroids, comets and other space objects.

Manned missions have only reached to the moon, with a total of 12 astronauts who actually walked on the moon, all part of the Apollo program between 1969 and 1972, and no one has been back there since 1972.

The US Space shuttle, between 1981 and 2011, was the first and only reusable manned spacecraft, with 135 flights into orbit and back to earth. Humans have been continuously present in space on the International Space Station (ISS), and since the retirement of the American Space Shuttle in 2011, all human spaceflights to and from the ISS have been carried out using Soyuz, initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s and now the responsibility of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos.

The ISS, a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada), is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US.

HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, was the first Arab and Muslim to fly in outer space in 1985, who flew aboard the American STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission as a payload specialist. Following that, Mohammed Faris, was the first Syrian and the second Arab in space, who flew as Research Cosmonaut in the Interkosmos program on Soyuz TM-3 to the Mir space station in 1987.

Article adapted from Encyclopedia of Space, by Miles Kelly

Credit: NASA – HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud