Science in orbit

Skylab 3, crewed by Al Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott, returned to a station that had been empty for just over a month, in late July 1973. Aside from installing an improved sunshield and troubleshooting a problem with their own spacecraft's manoeuvring engines, the astronauts of this mission were able to concentrate on science. As well as studying their own condition during 59 days of weightlessness, they also recorded how a variety of smaller passengers coped, including mice, fruit...

The Apollo spacesuit

Spacesuits for the Apollo missions had a number of differences from previous designs. They had to be more robust because of the extra risks that came with working on the surface of the Moon for extended periods, yet also more flexible and lighter because of the variety of tasks the astronauts might have to carry out and the need to operate in gravity rather than weightlessness. The solution was a basic spacesuit with optional extras that were worn during lunar excursions. Apollo 13 Lunar Module...

Little Joe launches

To test the basic principle of the conical Mercury capsule, a number of bare-bones boilerplate models were produced. These could be launched on top of the relatively cheap Little Joe booster rocket - a two-stage launch vehicle in which each stage was itself a cluster of four solid-fuelled rockets. The boilerplate capsules and their rockets were fitted with instruments to record the stresses and temperatures encountered in each flight. Low-altitude flights tested the escape system, while higher...

Vanguard stumbles

The US Naval research rocket that had beaten off the Redstone challenge to become the official US satellite launcher was a hybrid of existing and > new rocket stages (see panel, right). In theory, the use of tried-and-tested components should have By mid-1957, the Huntsville team had successfully used their Redstone-based Jupiter C rocket to reach space (see p. 38). Medaris ordered that several of the missiles should be held back for a potential satellite launch, but the Department of the...

Orbital mechanics

The shape of a satellite's orbit depends on its function. The further from the Earth a satellite is, the longer it takes to complete an orbit - not only because it has further to travel, but also because objects in orbit naturally move more slowly as they get further away from the object they are orbiting. One particularly useful orbit is the geostationary orbit first identified by Arthur C. Clarke (see p.246) and used by comsats and other craft that need to stay over a single spot on the...

Choosing the crew

At first Yuri Gagarin himself was to have commanded, but Kamanin was unwilling to risk a national hero on such a dangerous mission and Vostok 4 backup pilot Vladimir Komarov was finally selected. For the first time, Voskhod would allow people other than trained pilots into space. All agreed that sending a doctor into orbit would have benefits, while as an incentive to his engineers, Korolev decreed that one of them would have the chance to fly in the completed...

Soyuz spacecraft

Sergei Korolev's lasting legacy to Russian spaceflight, the Soyuz entered service in 1967 and is still operating, in upgraded form, 40 years later. The multipurpose vehicle was the first Soviet spacecraft capable of docking with other craft in orbit, but the first version, model 7K-OK, did not allow the crew to move between craft. This ability arrived with the 7K-OKS (Soyuz 11), but after the loss of that mission's crew, the spacecraft was given an extensive redesign, producing the two-man...

En route to history

After just one-and-a-half orbits of the Earth, the S-IVB upper stage kicked the spacecraft onto its translunar trajectory. Once safely on its way, the CSM Columbia eased free of the rocket stage, turned through 180 degrees, and docked with the LM Eagle, which had nestled beneath it during the launch. Safely freed from the rocket, Apollo 11 sped on towards the Moon. The journey took a little over three days - then came the vital retro-rocket burn to slip into lunar orbit and the preparations for...

Chasing satellites

The next repair mission was a case of tidying up unfinished business - rescuing the pair of mis-deployed satellites released during the STS-41B mission in February 1984 (see p.194). Both had fallen far short of their intended orbits after their Payload Assist Modules (PAMs) had failed. After a brief pause in commercial launches while the problem was sorted out, the maiden flight of Discovery in August had flawlessly deployed another pair of communications satellites. With the PAM problem...

Rise fall and rise

By 1933, the Soviet government had decided to formalize the study of rocket propulsion, and Korolev was appointed Deputy Chief of the In 1929, Korolev (left) and Sovva Lyushin (centre) a rocket-powered the SK-9, which Korolev from Moscow to tebel in the Ukroine. Here, famous pilot K.K. Artseulov inspects the glider. Korolev (second left) is seen here during his time at Moscow's Bauman Technical School, where one of his advisers was the aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev. Korolev (second left) is...

The Lunik probes

The Soviet Union might have appeared inactive during these American launch attempts, but there was a lot going on in secret. The State Commission had approved a series of Moon probes in March 1958, but with little compromise on the size and Both Luna 1 and Luna 2 carried a payload of small symbolic objects onboard, including footballs of pentagonal pennants designed to explode on impact and scatter their emblems over a wide area. While the first two Luna probes mode a simple fly by and a...

Willing captives

When the Soviet armies swept into Peenem nde on 5 May 1945, they found that the birds had flown - the missile range and factories had been abandoned in mid-February, and explosives deliberately set to destroy as much as possible. Von Braun and his team had moved first to Nordhausen, close to the Mittelwerk factory, and closer to the advancing US troops. On 19 March, orders came from Berlin that all records of German experimental programs were to be destroyed - instead, von Braun had 14 tonnes...

First flights

The first test launch in 1964 was designed to check the spacecraft's function in orbit. In place of a crew, it carried instruments that sent back data on conditions during launch and in orbit. Gemini 1 was not designed for recovery, and so a second capsule was sent on a brief suborbital hop in January 1965 to assess re-entry conditions. By 23 March 1965, Gemini 3 was ready for the first manned launch. Deke Slayton, now in charge of NASA's Astronaut Office, wanted to mix experienced astronauts...

European astronauts

ESA maintains its own astronaut corps, based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. Attempts to develop a small manned spacecraft called Herm s stalled in the early 1990s (see panel, below), but ESA astronauts have flown as guest cosmonauts on Soyuz launches (see panel, opposite, and p.240) and as payload specialists on a number of Space Shuttle missions. The agency has supplied several components for the ISS (see p.286), and its laboratory module, the Columbus Orbital Facility,...

European launcher

Each of ESRO's satellites ultimately had to rely on an American rocket to put it into space, but it seemed obvious that Europe should have its own launch vehicle. After Britain's attempts to develop the three-stage Black Prince launcher with partners from the British Commonwealth came to nothing, the project was taken over by the European partnership. A new agency, the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), was set up to coordinate its The Cos-B gamma-ray observatory, launched for...

The Hubble Space Telescope

The first large orbiting telescope to study the Universe in visible light, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has revolutionized our view of the cosmos, answering some key questions in modern astronomy and raising new ones. Astronomers have long been aware of the benefits of a telescope in space. Visible light is one of the few types of radiation that pass through our atmosphere relatively unscathed, but its passage through the air to even the highest mountaintop observatories is still affected...

Gemini spacecraft

Gemini has been called the first true spaceship, because its revolutionary design allowed it to change orbits and actually fly in space, rather than just following the trajectory into which it was initially launched. It was also the first spacecraft with a docking capability. Conceived after Apollo, Gemini's design was in many ways more advanced than the spacecraft that succeeded it. Even after its last flight in 1966 Gemini had a long afterlife, with proposals for new projects based on the...

The International Space Station

The design of the ISS has changed repeatedly, even after its construction finally got underway. The design set in place by early in the new millennium was a hybrid of elements from NASA's original Freedom station and the Russian Mir 2, with international contributions from Europe, Japan, and Canada. The station is dominated by the central truss that runs out from Node 1 along the entire length of the station. Sections of truss on the station's starboard (right) side as seen from Zvezda are...

A new era of exploration began on 4 October 1957 as Sputnik 1 began its transmissions from high above the Earth And the

But Sputnik 1, an 83-kg (184-lb) steel ball some 58cm (23in) across, and containing little more than a basic radio transmitter, was still a long way from Tikhonravov's ambitious Object D orbital laboratory. Just what had happened to derail Soviet plans for a more spectacular entry into the Space Age Ultimately, plans to develop Object D in time for a 1957 launch had fallen victim to the same problems encountered time and again in the early days of the space programme - bureaucracy and politics....

Mercury capsule

NASA's first manned spacecraft was just one-third the weight of the Soviet Vostok - it had to be in order to be launched by the weaker US rockets of the time. Yet both vehicles had to address the same problems of life support in orbit, re-orientation in space, and re-entry into the atmosphere. A variety of designs were pitched by potential contractors, but NASA's Space Task Group already knew they wanted a conical, wingless capsule that would re-enter the atmosphere on a ballistic trajectory....

Skylab

Originally conceived as part of the Apollo Applications Program in the late 1960s, the first US space station was all that remained after cuts in NASA's budget. It began life as the Orbital Workshop project, a plan to launch a Saturn IB rocket into orbit with a specially prepared S-IVB upper stage. This stage would enter orbit, and an Apollo crew would then dock with it, drain its remaining fuel, and begin to fit it out as a laboratory. The Skylab that ultimately flew was carried by a Saturn V,...

India in space

India's space programme began in the mid-1960s with the foundation of ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation. ISRO developed the country's first satellites, including Aryabhata, launched by a Soviet rocket in 1975. India has tended to concentrate its satellite work in fields of national interest, producing remote-sensing satellites and comsats to aid the country's development. The first communications satellite, INSAT 1A, was launched in 1982 on a NASA Delta rocket, and India was also...

Reinventing Salyut

Salyut Interior

Salyut 2, the first Almaz station, reaches orbit, but control is lost 22 days later, before it can be occupied. Salyut 3 is successfully launched into orbit. The crew of Soyuz 14 join Salyut 3, staying onboard for 14 days. A Proton rocket launches the DOS station Salyut 4. Soyuz 17 is launched, carrying the first crew to Salyut 4. Salyut 3 breaks up on reentry after only one spell of occupation. Soyuz 18 takes a second crew to Salyut 4. The Almaz-based Salyut 5 launches successfully. Salyut 5...

The earliest rockets

One often-told story of early Chinese rocketry is the legend of Wan Hu, a Ming-Dynasty official who supposedly flew into space using a chair supported on 47 rockets. An early reaction motor was designed in the first century ad by Greek-Egyptian scientist Hero of Alexandria. Heat applied from below boiled water in a spherical vessel, and steam spouting from the nozzles caused the sphere to spin on its axis. Before spaceflight, there was the rocket - at first little more than a novelty, but later...

The rise of commercial spaceflight

The last decade has seen a major shift in attitudes to manned spaceflight and exploration - they are no longer the preserve of superpower governments but now also the stuff of holiday brochures. The rise of space tourism and privately developed launch vehicles will open up spaceflight to many more people. The idea that one day we might holiday in space would have seemed quite feasible to Wernher von Braun and his colleagues when they wrote their Collier's articles in the early 1950s. Even as...

Spaceflight

THE COMPLETE STORY FROM SPUTNIK TO SHUTTLE AND BEYOND THE COMPLETE STORY FROM SPUTNIK TO SHUTTLE AND BEYOND LONDON, NEW YORK, MELBOURNE, MUNICH AND DELHI SENIOR EDITOR Peter Frances DTP DESIGNER Laragh Kedwell PRODUCTION Elizabeth Warman JACKET DESIGNERS Lee Ellwood, Duncan Turner SENIOR MANAGING ART EDITOR Philip Ormerod PUBLISHING MANAGER Liz Wheeler PUBLISHER Jonathan Metealf ART DIRECTOR Bryn Walls EDITORIAL CONSULTANT Carole Stott INDEXER Hilary Bird DESIGNERS Gadi Farfour, Peter Laws,...

Galileo spacecraft

Originally known simply as the Jupiter Orbiter Probe, Galileo, like many interplanetary orbiters, was spin-stabilized. When part of a spacecraft rotates, it acts like a gyroscope and helps to keep the craft in its desired attitude without the need for constant and wasteful corrections by the thrusters. In Galileo's case, the upper section, including antennae, field and particle experiments, and computers, rotated at three revolutions per minute. The lower section, containing cameras, other...

Verne and Wells

However, the true colossi of science fiction belong to the 19th century. French author Jules Verne wrote a series of adventure novels on scientific themes, of which the most influential was From the Earth to the Moon (1865). Verne made a serious attempt to address the problem of launching a spacecraft towards the Moon, opting to propel his heroes and their moonship from a giant cannon, the Columbiad. His understanding of the laws of physics was somewhat awry, though he didn't realize that the...

Getting back to Earth

While the astronauts suffered in the cramped conditions aboard an LM designed to accommodate just two men for two days, Houston ground controllers led by Gene Kranz (see p.100) feverishly calculated their path back to safety. Conditions on Aquarius soon became cold and damp, but more problematically the chemical filters designed to Apollo 13 Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise talks with the Mission Operations Control Room at Houston during the crew's final television transmission, shortly before...

Lunar Roving Vehicle

Developed for the J-dass missions of the later Apollo programme, the Lunar Roving Vehicle (or LRV) was built for NASA by Boeing. The design specification put a strict limit of 208kg (457.51b) on the vehicle's weight, while at the same time requiring that it should support a heavy load of two astronauts, their equipment, and rock samples, and that should be capable of many hours of operation at reasonably high speeds. Despite the demanding brief, Boeing delivered the first LRV in just 17 months....

Apollo crews 19671972

After the tragedy of Apollo 1, Saturn rockets took men into space 11 times during the US lunar programme. The publicity photos reproduced here chronicle an era that cemented the image of the astronaut as hero. Commander (left) Virgil Gus Grissom (1926-1967) CM Pilot (centre) Ed White (1930-1967) LM Pilot (right) Roger Chaffee (1935-1967) Mission Never flew after catastrophic launch-pad fire LM Pilot Walter Cunningham (b.1932) Commander Wally Schirra (b.1923) CM Pilot Donn Eisele (1930-1987)...

Vostok spacecraft

Vostok Instrument Panel

Designed by Mikhail Tikhonravov's kindergarten team, the first manned spacecraft combined a spherical manned Descent Module with an unmanned Instrument Module and retrorocket unit. Unmanned versions were flown under cover of Sputnik launches 4 onwards (sometimes known as korabl sputniks, from the Russian for ship), and the manned spacecraft was launched half-a-dozen times. Although plans for later manned flights were scrapped, unmanned Vostok variants carrying reconnaissance cameras and other...

Saturn V

Oxygen Nightclub Bedford

Although a lunar mission using Saturn I rockets might have been feasible, the lunar-orbit rendezvous mission that NASA eventually settled on required a much larger and more powerful launch vehicle. This rocket was the Saturn V, the largest rocket ever to fly successfully. Masterminded again by the rocket team at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center, it built on, but did not replicate, the technology of the Saturn I. Fifteen of these giants were ultimately built. outer Rocketdyne F-1...

Mercury and Venus

Reaching the innermost planet was a tough challenge for NASA, but techniques used there paved the way for future missions elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union finally reached the surface of Venus. Mercury was always going to be a difficult world to reach, simply because of the immutable laws of planetary motion. With an average distance from the Sun of just 58 million km (36 million miles), Mercury has a year that lasts just 88 Earth days. The tiny planet, little larger than our Moon, moves...

Comets and asteroids

The smaller worlds of the Solar System hold the answers to many of the questions about its origins - and since the 1980s they have been visited by a wide variety of spaceprobes. Between and beyond the orbits of the eight major planets there are countless small objects, ranging in size from mere boulders to minor worlds comparable to our Moon. The largest of these are icy dwarf planets that lurk within the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of Neptune (see p.306). Closer to the Sun, the objects are...

Successors to the Shuttle

Mach Aircraft

Despite the Space Shuttle's checkered history and imminent retirement, the concept of the spaceplane has too many benefits to disappear completely. So what will the next generation of spacecraft look like Eugen Sanger's Second World War design for a rail-launched German orbital bomber, called Amerika, is still an inspiration for many aerospaceplane concepts today. Sanger in the 1930s, were rocket-powered aircraft launched horizontally on a rail track, accelerated to high speed before takeoff by...

France enters space

While Britain's rocket programme ultimately failed due to a lack of political vision, the French effort thrived on Gallic self-assurance. In the late 1940s, French scientists, helped by a few of their captured German counterparts, formed plans to turn the A9, von Braun's planned successor to the V-2, into reality. While these ideas proved overly ambitious, they still led to the successful Veronique series of sounding rockets, first launched in 1950. In parallel with these efforts, France...

Onwards to Mars

Looking beyond its return to the Moon scheduled for 2020, NASA is turning its attention to a far more ambitious Mars mission. By then, a small army of new probes will have assessed the conditions that await human visitors. Europe's next Mors mission, planned for the mid-201 Os, will put a robotic field biologist on Mars. The roving laboratory will search for signs of past and current life, but also investigate the nature of the Martian soil to assist future monned missions. Europe's next Mors...

The Chief Designer

Korolev's passion for aviation was supposedly triggered by watching an air display as a boy in 1913. Up to and during the Second World War, his principal work was on aircraft designs. While Wernher von Braun soon became a familiar figure in the US media, his main rival carried out his greatest work beneath a cloak of anonymity. Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, known as the Chief Designer of Spacecraft, was a talented engineer who gave the Soviet Union a lead in space which it maintained until his...

Mir space station

The world's first modular space station used elements of the earliest civilian DOS Salyut stations, with additional laboratories and modules that were often based on Vladimir Chelomei's military TKS ferry design. The core module was based on the DOS design used in Salyuts 6 and 7, with a docking module offering five attachment points at one end and a single docking point at the other. The station grew in fits and starts, and the final modules, Spektr and Priroda, were only completed and docked...

Into orbit

On the morning of 12 April, Korolev personally woke his cosmonauts at 5 30am. After a final series of medical checks, both astronauts were suited up, and Titov had to suffer the agony of riding with Gagarin in the bus to the launch site, then waiting on standby as his comrade was secured inside the Vostok capsule. Only then was Titov taken to an observation bunker to remove his spacesuit. Meanwhile, engineers worked to secure Gagarin, plugging him into a variety of monitors and life-support...