Archive | Space Flight

Handheld GPS Navigation Device

Ep. 212: GPS Navigation

Last week we talked about the old way navigators used to find their way around the planet; by looking at objects in the sky, and doing some tricky math. The new navigation system, of course, is the Global Positioning System, and it helps you find your spot on the planet with amazing accuracy. Let’s see […]

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An O'Neill Cylinder. An example of a future space colony.

Ep. 167: Future Civilizations

Let’s assume that humans survive the next few hundred years without destroying ourselves, or the planet, and we actually become a space faring civilization. What kinds of challenges will we face, and what projects will we build to expand ourselves out into the Solar System and eventually the galaxy. You just need to think big. […]

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Cape Canaveral

Ep. 161: Launch Facilities

Launching a rocket into space requires a big effort on the ground. Space agencies have built up huge infrastructures to store, prepare and launch rockets. Let’s take a look at what’s involved on the ground at a place like Cape Canaveral. What happens before, during and after a launch. (more…)

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Ares Rocket

Ep. 149: Constellation Program

It’s been more than 40 years since humans first set foot on the Moon. But plans are in place to return humans to the surface of the Moon, and maybe even to asteroids and the planet Mars. New rockets, landers and flight technology are all under development. Humans are pushing out into space again, and […]

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Artist's impression of a Bussard Ramjet

Ep. 145: Interstellar Travel

In science fiction it’s easy to hop into your spaceship and blast off for other stars. But the true distances between stars, and the limits of relativity make interstellar travel almost impossible with our current technology. What would it really take to travel from star to star, exploring the galaxy? (more…)

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Illustration of a space elevator

Ep. 144: Space Elevators

If you want to travel into the Solar System, you have to get off the Earth. Traditionally, that meant blasting off in a rocket. But there’s another strategy for escaping the Earth’s gravity. Climb to the top of an extremely tall tower, and just jump away. That’s the idea behind space elevators. Theoretically possible, but […]

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Ep. 124: Space Capsules, Part 1 – Vostok, Mercury and Gemini

The space capsule has been around for almost 50 years, when Yuri Gagarin headed to space in 1961. There have been many programs that used capsules by both the Americans and the Russians, and even the Chinese are using them now for their spaceflight program. Let’s take a look at this rugged, dependable space vehicle […]

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Ep. 121: Spacesuits

As we’ve mentioned before, the Universe is trying to kill you. And for astronauts, that’s truer than ever. One step out into the vacuum of space would be a world of hurt for an unprotected astronaut: the freezing cold temperature, the lack of atmospheric pressure, and the deadly radiation, just to name a few hazards. […]

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Ep. 119: Robots in Space

Space is totally inhospitable. If the freezing temperatures don’t get you, the intense radiation will kill you. Or the vacuum, or the lack of breathable atmosphere, or meteoroid impacts. Well… you get the idea. That’s why most space exploration is done by hardy robots. They don’t need to eat, drink or breathe. They get their […]

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Ep. 115: The Moon, Part 3: Return to the Moon

It’s time for a third lunar chapter. We’ve talked about the physical characteristics of the Moon, and the exploration. Now we’re going to talk about the plans to return to the Moon. From the upcoming lunar reconnaissance orbiter to the plans to have humans set foot on the Moon again, for the first time in […]

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