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 …

Zeppelins of Mars - HAVOC on Venus

Zeppelins of Mars – HAVOC on Venus : NASA’s new Planetary Airships

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  If you thought airships like the Zeppelin were a thing of the past and consigned to the history books for their dangerous ability to burst into flames, then think again because NASA is looking at using them to explore Mars and Venus. On March 21st, 1999, a giant silver shape descended from the sky to thump down, bounce, then land in the Egyptian desert. It was the giant balloon Breitling Orbiter 3, and from the red capsule beneath emerged Bertrand Piccard: grandson of August Piccard, the first man to reach the stratosphere, and son of Jacques Piccard, who in …

Project Orion – The Atomic Bomb Powered Space Rocket

Project Orion – The Atomic Bomb Powered Space Rocket

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If I told that here was a plan to launch a spacecraft the size of an ocean liner, that would weigh 130 times more than the Space Shuttle, could travel with unrivalled speed across our Solar System and was powered by riding on a series pulses created by exploding thousands of miniature atomic bombs, one after another, another behind the ship, you would probably say that I’d been reading too many sci-fi books or websites. However, in the 1950’s and 60’s just such an idea was taken very seriously. ‘Project Orion’ was a classified American project to harness the power …

Eclipse - Chasing the Shadow at 50,000 ft | 2017 - 1973

Eclipse – Chasing the Shadow at 50,000 ft | 2017 – 1973

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On August 21st 2017, what being dubbed as the “Great American Eclipse” will take place on a path 2680 miles long that goes from the Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast and will be the first total eclipse in the US to go coast to coast in 99 years. The width of the shadow where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon is 70 miles wide and will travel across the land at over 1500mph. For those on the ground, the time of totality will vary from just under 2 minutes in …