Space exploration

Where can I find information about space exploration?

Image: Backpacking from NASA on The Commons on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


Humans have been fascinated with the stars for thousands of years, but were unable to visit space until the 20th century. Space exploration began in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite into orbit around earth. Since then there have been thousands of missions into space – both manned and unmanned.

We explore space to understand more about Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond.

EPIC resources

EPIC is a collection of reliable databases. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions on lots of different topics. The databases below are the best places to look for information on space exploration.

Britannica School

This is the online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica. You can search Britannica School in 3 different reading levels.

  • Choose the Middle level and enter the keywords 'space exploration' into the search box.
  • The first article has great information about the history of space exploration.
  • Find the Images & Videos tab at the top of the page to see more.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [space exploration]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Elementary (Gale In Context)

This database has easy to read information for primary students on science, technology, people, plants and more.

Middle School (Gale in Context)

Here you will find information for intermediate school students on a range of topics related to cultures, geography, government, science, and history.

  • Select Science from the topics on the front page.
  • Then find Space Exploration and Space Race to explore a range of articles, biographies, images and videos on how space has been explored over the years.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

General websites

The websites below will explain more about space exploration and how it began.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of resources on a variety of topics. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.

  • Topics are in alphabetical order.
  • Scroll down the page until you find Space Exploration.
  • From the topic page you can filter by media like images, articles and videos etc. For example: under 'articles' you will find an article about the search for life on the Moon.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


This is the website for The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The tabs at the top of the page have plenty of information about NASA's past, present, and future journeys into space.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

DK Find Out

This website has lots of good information about space.

  • Type the keyword 'space' into the search box.
  • Select the article The Space Race.
  • Select the links for First person in space to find out about Yuri Gagarin, and Laika to find out about the first animal in space.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

Rocket Lab

RocketLab is about New Zealand's involvement in space exploration. This company was founded by New Zealander Robert Beck in 2006, and operates out of New Zealand and the United States of America.

  • If you go to Missions you will find a list of Completed Missions with images and videos on the date of the mission, name of the mission and launch site.
  • Go to Gallery to see more exciting images and videos.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


Your school library or public library will have lots of books on space exploration.

Here are some suggested titles:

SCIS no: 1964413

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