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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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

In Aerospace, planes, space, Videos by Paul Shillito1 Comment

  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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Interview with ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano

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In this episode, I Interview with ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano whilst he was at Star City, Zvyozdny gorodok Звёздный городо́к in Russia about his work with ESA on the ISS (International Space Station) and various aspects of his views about space and working in it and how and why he became an astronaut amongst other things. If you want to jump to questions & sections of the interview by time stamp below you will need to go to the Youtube page as these dont link to the video about and are there for information only. 00:16 Intro 02:03 What made …

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How Australia Helped Save Apollo 13

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When you mention the words “Apollo” and “NASA” most people will immediately think of America, that big U.. S.. A.. on the side of the Saturn V rockets at take off is an awe inspiring sight and a great piece of national branding but success in Space requires a global effort: the International Space Station is only the latest example of the coordinated ingenuity of nations working together to get things done off the planet. The problem with space craft is that they don’t stay above the launch area, they orbit the earth about 16 times a day and the …