Evel Knievel and The Reusable X-3 Volksrocket

Evel Knievel and The Reusable X-3 Volksrocket

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In the last year or so, its become almost commonplace to see SpaceX & Blue origin bringing rockets back after a launch for refurbishment and reuse. This has been the goal for billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos backed with NASA knowledge for well over a decade now. But over 40 years ago another man had the same dream of a low-cost reusable rocket that very nearly came to fruition from the unlikely source of a two-car garage in an ordinary Californian suburb and could have made the world famous daredevil Evel Knievel the worlds first private astronaut. That man …

The Space Races Unwitting Pioneers

Animal Astronauts – The Space Races Unwitting Pioneers

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Everyone remembers Yuri Gagarin the first man in space but before his famous flight, there had been many more living space pioneers who didn’t really have any choice about being strapped into an experimental rocket. Animal Astronauts – The Space Race’s Unwitting Pioneers The tidal wave of propaganda generated by Sputnik 1 had been unpredictable but it had been especially positive for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. He summoned Sergei Korolev, boss of the Soviet space programme, and told him to make sure a second satellite was launched in time to mark the anniversary of the October Revolution of November 7th, 1917, …

How Did NASA Lose a Mars Space Probe Because of Maths?

How Did NASA Lose a Mars Space Probe Because of Maths?

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For all the knowledge of the thousands of scientists and engineers in the space industry, sometimes the old adage “The best-laid plans of mice and men” can equally be applied to their efforts. This was certainly the case on the Mars Climate Orbiter mission of 1999 and this would go down in space history as one of the biggest facepalms to date. If you’re an avid comment reader, you may have seen comments on my videos about why I tend to use both Imperial and metric units, instead of just metric and the simple answer is that many people in …

Sputnik - 60 years on from the Start of the Space Race

Sputnik – 60 years on from the Start of the Space Race

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That simple little beep, beep, beep was the sound that started the Space Race. It was heard for the first time 60 years ago, when, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into a low Earth orbit. It was only a metal ball, 22 inches or about 56 centimetres in diameter, with four antennae sticking out of it – but it had an impact far greater than its size. In fact, it changed the course of human history. The idea of a satellite was first raised in an engineering memo written by Mikhail Tikhonravov in 1954 whilst …

How the First Spacewalk Nearly Ended in Disaster - Alexei Leonov Voskhod 2

How the First Spacewalk Nearly Ended in Disaster – Alexei Leonov Voskhod 2

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When Alexey Leonov made the world’s first spacewalk in 1965, it was hailed as yet another great success for the USSR in the space race against America. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the west found out that while it may well have been made to look like a success by the Soviet Press, it was, in fact, it was teetering on the edge of disaster from the moment Leonov stepped out of the airlock till the crew were rescued from a desolate location in a frozen forest. In 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth …