On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. His flight lasted 108 minutes, and Gagarin reached an altitude of 327 kilometers (about 202 miles).
Satellites love hydrazine – a type of space propellant – but it’s toxic to people and extremely difficult to handle. A non-toxic alternative will be put to the test with NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.