National Space Day (first Friday of May) History, Activities, and How to Get Involved


National Space Day is a celebration of human exploration and discovery. Learn about the history of National Space Day, fun activities to participate in, and how you can get involved in space exploration.

Discover ways to engage with space science, from visiting space museums to building model rockets, and explore the possibilities of space tourism and citizen science. Join us in celebrating National Space Day and the human spirit of exploration.

National Space Day is an annual event celebrated on the first Friday of May in the United States, which aims to promote the importance of space exploration, science, and technology to the general public. The day recognizes the achievements and contributions made by space scientists, engineers, astronauts, and other professionals involved in space exploration. It also encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields related to space. National Space Day was first observed in 1997 and has since become an important event in promoting interest and education in space-related activities.

When is National Space Day

National Space Day is celebrated on the first Friday of May every year.

International Day for Human Space Flight


History of National Space Day

National Space Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1997, after being created by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. The goal was to promote interest in space exploration and inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related to space. Lockheed Martin is a global aerospace and defense company and was a major contractor for NASA’s Space Shuttle program.


The inaugural celebration of National Space Day included a variety of educational events and activities across the United States, including classroom lessons, field trips to museums and space centers, and presentations by astronauts and space scientists. The event was widely recognized and has since become an annual tradition.

Over the years, National Space Day has grown to include participation from numerous organizations, including NASA, the National Space Society, and other aerospace companies. The day is now celebrated worldwide and is an opportunity to highlight the importance of space exploration and the ongoing advancements in space technology.

Space Timeline

Here is a timeline of some significant events in space exploration history:

  • 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in space.
  • 1961: Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to orbit the Earth.
  • 1969: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission successfully lands astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the moon.
  • 1971: The Soviet Union launches the first space station, Salyut 1.
  • 1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven crew members.
  • 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched into orbit.
  • 1998: The first components of the International Space Station (ISS) are launched into orbit.
  • 2001: The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, pays $20 million to visit the ISS.
  • 2004: NASA’s Opportunity and Spirit rovers land on Mars.
  • 2012: NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on Mars to search for signs of past or present life on the planet.
  • 2014: The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission successfully lands a probe on a comet.
  • 2015: NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft conducts a flyby of Pluto, providing the first close-up images of the dwarf planet.
  • 2020: NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars to search for signs of past microbial life and collect samples for future return to Earth.
  • 2021: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launches four astronauts to the ISS, marking the first time a commercial spacecraft has carried humans into orbit.

This is just a selection of some significant events in space exploration history. There have been many other missions, discoveries, and advancements in space technology over the years that have contributed to our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

International Day for Human Space Flight


How do I get into space?

Getting into space as an individual is currently very difficult, as it requires significant resources and training. However, there are a few ways you can potentially experience space travel:

  1. Become an astronaut: To become an astronaut, you typically need to have a degree in a STEM field, several years of relevant experience, and pass a rigorous selection process. NASA, for example, requires applicants to have a degree in a STEM field and at least two years of relevant professional experience. If you are selected as an astronaut, you will receive extensive training in a variety of areas, including spaceflight operations, spacecraft systems, and spacewalking.
  2. Participate in a space tourism program: Several companies are developing space tourism programs that will allow individuals to experience suborbital or orbital spaceflight. Companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX are currently working on commercial spaceflight programs, with prices ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per ticket. However, these programs are still in development and are not yet available to the general public.
  3. Participate in a zero-gravity flight: Several companies offer zero-gravity flights that simulate the feeling of weightlessness experienced in space. These flights typically involve flying in a specialized aircraft that follows a parabolic flight path, allowing passengers to experience brief periods of weightlessness. These flights are typically much more affordable than space tourism programs and can be booked through companies like Zero Gravity Corporation.

It’s worth noting that space travel can be risky and expensive, and not everyone may be eligible or able to participate in these programs. However, if you’re interested in space exploration, there are many other ways to get involved and learn about the field, such as volunteering at a space museum or participating in citizen science programs.


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National Space Day Activities

National Space Day is a great opportunity to engage in fun and educational activities related to space exploration. Here are some ideas for National Space Day activities:

  1. Visit a Space Museum: Visit a space museum or planetarium to learn about space history and exploration. Many museums have special exhibits or events for National Space Day.
  2. Build a Model Rocket: Building and launching a model rocket is a fun and hands-on way to learn about the principles of rocketry.
  3. Stargazing: Spend the night stargazing and learning about the constellations. Many cities have astronomy clubs or observatories that offer stargazing events.
  4. Watch a Space Movie: There are many great movies about space exploration, such as “Apollo 13,” “The Martian,” and “Gravity.” Watch one of these movies with friends or family and discuss the themes and science behind the story.
  5. Do a Space-themed Science Experiment: There are many science experiments that can be done at home that teach kids about space science. For example, you can make a model of the solar system, simulate a lunar eclipse, or make a comet.
  6. Participate in Citizen Science: Citizen science programs allow people to contribute to real scientific research. Programs like NASA’s Globe Observer and Zooniverse offer opportunities to help scientists study the Earth, the Moon, and other celestial objects.
  7. Attend a Virtual Event: Many organizations host virtual events and webinars on National Space Day, allowing people to participate from anywhere in the world. Check out websites like NASA and the National Space Society for information on upcoming events.

These are just a few ideas for National Space Day activities. No matter how you choose to celebrate, National Space Day is a great opportunity to learn about space science and exploration.

Why We Love and Celebrate National Space Day

National Space Day is celebrated for several reasons. First and foremost, space exploration is a fascinating and important field of study that has captured the imaginations of people around the world. Space exploration has helped us better understand our place in the universe, and has led to many technological advancements that have improved our daily lives.

National Space Day is also a celebration of the achievements of astronauts, scientists, engineers, and others who have worked tirelessly to push the boundaries of space exploration. From the first human spaceflight to the first landing on the moon, these accomplishments have inspired generations of people to pursue careers in space science and engineering.

In addition, National Space Day is an opportunity to promote STEM education and inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Many organizations use National Space Day as a platform to showcase the importance of STEM education and to encourage young people to explore careers in these fields.

Finally, National Space Day is a celebration of the human spirit of exploration and discovery. Throughout history, humans have been driven to explore and discover new frontiers, and space exploration is the ultimate expression of this drive. National Space Day is a reminder of our capacity for curiosity, innovation, and adventure, and an opportunity to celebrate the human spirit of exploration.

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