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 …

Space Station Collision - Mir Crash with Progress Supply Vessel

Space Station Collision – Mir Crash with Progress Supply Vessel

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Of all the 100’s of thousands of pieces of space junk and nearly 1500 satellites in orbit around the earth, it may come as a surprise that so far there has been only one major collision involving a manned craft and it affected both Russians and Americans. After the Apollo Moon landings, the US switched it long-term goal to the Space Shuttle system and the Soviet Union shifted its focus to a permanent working presence in space. During the 1970s, the Soviet design bureau OKB-1 developed the first manned space stations called Salyut. As the Salyuts came to the end …

Interstellar Space Arks - Humanities Exodus From Earth

Interstellar Space Arks – Humanities Exodus From Earth

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Earlier this year, Professor Stephen Hawking warned the human race that, unless we found a way to colonise another planet in the next hundred years, we would face a very real threat of extinction. He said: “With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious.” The idea of a brave band of people leaving Earth to start a new life elsewhere in the galaxy isn’t new. Rocket pioneer Robert H Goddard described an “interstellar ark” in 1918, and ten years later his Russian counterpart Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, known as the father of astronautic theory, …

Hubble Trouble - How did the Space Telescope Mirror End Up Flawed ?

Hubble Trouble – How did the Space Telescope Mirror End Up Flawed ?

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In April of 1990 the American Shuttle Discovery launched up from the Earth, into a higher orbit than ever before, to deploy a special payload: the Hubble Space Telescope. Above even the thinnest part of the atmosphere, Hubble would be able to see far-off stars and galaxies without distortion and expand our understanding of the distant past. Or at least, that was the plan. But by June it was clear that there was something very wrong: the telescope with one of the most perfectly ground mirrors couldn’t focus properly. Apparently, the first great Space Observatory was ‘short-sighted’. Hubble’s 2.5-metre (8.2 …