How Earthlings Exploring Space?

Updated: May 16

A Satellite Orbiting Around the Earth
A Satellite Orbiting Around the Earth

Do you know how humans were trying to explore space beyond the Earth? It's not that much easy but somehow humans from Earth make their own spacecraft, rockets, satellites, and spaceships used for space exploration.

Why humans are exploring space?

  • To learn about space

  • To find any inhabitants in an exoplanet or any habitable planet for future humans

  • For expanding the human race beyond the Earth.

When we try to imagine the vastness of space it's horrible if we consider that Voyager 1 flew into space more than 30 years after it was launched but that spacecraft just crossed the outer edges of our solar system only. But we have are just begins space exploration only. Our upcoming generations are lucky they can travel to other planets like today in a country on Earth.

Spacecraft launched from Earth do not necessarily travel to their destination in a straight line. If we consider the Cassini Huygens orbiter and probe took a roundabout route during its mission to reach Saturn in order to make use of gravity assists. In Cassini orbiter, the communications dish doubles as a sunshade to prevent overheating. The main engines and rocket thruster clusters allow for steering and speed adjustments. Cassini orbiter takes almost seven years to reach Saturn.

Look how we are far and nothing in space exploration now. We need to upgrade more technology to achieve our goals.

Space exploration we can do with the help of telescopes inside the Earth. There are lots of large observatories available on Earth also. If we check the history earlier there is a space race between the US and USSR. The 20th Century is the main century humans become crazy to explore space physically. The first thing humans used was high-altitude balloon flights.

Balloon Flights | Credits: Wix
Balloon Flights | Credits: Wix

Later followed rockets, rocket crewed flights. Due to the expensive cost of exploring space, it's limited by countries on Earth. There are rare missions only happening in a year. Some uncrewed spacecraft send to the solar system planets we have discovered.

The main problem is the environment outside of the solar system is entirely different from Earth and it creates challenges to adopt a technology to overcome the problem as we need well-equipped spacecraft, rockets, satellites ...etc to work smoothly. Human exploration is also challenging due to that problem because of the hazards of vacuum and radiation. Microgravity also has a negative effect on human physiology that causes both muscle atrophy and bone loss

Major Space Exploration Time Line

  • 4 October 1957 - Sputnik 1 (USSR successfully deployed in Earth orbit.

  • 20 July 1969- Apollo 11 Landing(USA)

  • 1961 - Yuri Gagarin first crewed Earth orbit (USSR)

What is a gravity assist?

With the help of gravity assist maneuvering, the gravity of a planet alters the path and speed of a spacecraft. It will increase the speed of the spacecraft, reduce cost, save propellant.

Space hat elite

Up in space, satellites can be any shape at all. They don't need to be streamlined because there is no air there.


Rockets carry satellites and people into space. A rocket burns fuel to produce a jet of gas. The hot gas expands rapidly and is blasted downwards causing a force (the thrust) to push the rocket up.

A spacecraft has streamlined to move easily and safely through the air. Where necessary an extra part called a fairing is added to achieve this effect (a nose cone in the rocket is called a fairing). The parts of a space shuttle, the orbiter, fuel tank, and rocket boosters) are streamlined for lift-off. A nose cone or fairing reduces air resistance as the rocket takes off. To escape Earth's gravity a racket has to reach just over 11 km (7 miles) per second. This is called the escape velocity.

Long March 2C Rocket was 35.1 m (115 ft) long and 3.3 m (11 ft) wide. Launch of the Long March 2C rocket from the Jiuquan Space Centre, China on 19th August 1983. Its main cargo was a photographic imaging satellite.

The Saturn V was the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. They were used 13 times between 1968 and 1972 including for the first moon landing.

Today's rockets such as Ariane 5 are used to launch satellites into space. A satellite is a rocket's payload or cargo whose size determines whether it is sent up by a small or large rocket. The main tank of Ariane 5 rockets contains 25 tonnes (27.5 tons) of liquid hydrogen. The tubes on each side are solid-fuel boosters that supply extra power for lift-off. Ariane 5 rockets were tested nearly 300 times for powering the engine in the first stage.

Types of Rocket

There are many different kinds of rocket
  • Reusable Space Shuttles carry people to and from the space station.

  • Saturn V was the largest rocket ever built. They were used to launch all the moon landings.

  • Firework rockets are used for celebrations.

  • Military rockets have been used for hundreds of years.

  • Experimental rockets provide information about the fast and high flight.

  • Some satellites have small rocket engines to position them once they are in orbit.

Space Shuttle

The first space shuttle was launched in April 1981. This partly reusable craft has taught astronauts an immense amount about working in space. The shuttle has three main components, the orbiter (the plane part and the only part that goes into orbit), a huge fuel tank, and two rocket boosters. The orbiter of the space shuttle carries between five and seven crew members and has a main external fuel tank. The orbiter's engines are used once the orbiter reaches space. There are two rocket boosters one on each side. Once lit, the boosters cannot be shut off, they burn until they run out of fuel. Orbiter takes just eight minutes to reach space. Nearly 25,000 heat-resistant tiles cover the orbiter to protect it from high temperatures on re-entry.

Each orbiter has a huge payload bay. You could park a school bus in this cavity which holds the satellites, experiments, and laboratories that need to be taken into space. The payload's door will open once the shuttle is in orbit.

A safe landing

Shuttle glides down belly first. Once the orbiter touches the runway, it releases a 12m (40ft) drag chute to slow it down.

A future shuttle

NASA worked on the design for a new orbiter, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). It will travel into space on an Area 1 rocket launcher and carry launcher and carry up to six astronauts on each mission. Orion was first launched on a shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicle from Launch Complex 39 of Kennedy Space Center in 2014. NASA completed a major launch abort system test in July 2019, successfully establishing the crew safety features of Orion’s abort system. Orion is expected to land on the Moon in 2024 and Mars in 2030

The orbiter fleet

Five orbiters were built. Two have been lost in tragic accidents
  • Colombia first flew in 1981. It disintegrated on re-entry in 2003.

  • Challenger was destroyed in 1986 just 71 seconds after launch.

  • Discovery first flew in 1984. It marked the 100th shuttle mission in 2000

  • Atlantis first flew in 1985. It has completed more than 25 missions.

  • The endeavor was built to replace challengers. It first flew in 1992.

Artificial Satellites

A satellite is an object natural or man-made that orbits something bigger than itself. The Moon is Earth's natural satellite but thousands of man-made satellites are currently orbiting our Earth as well. The word satellite comes from the Latin for the attendant. The first artificial satellite is Sputnik 1 launched by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1952. The first satellite television signal was relayed by the Telestar satellite in 1962. Domestic satellite dishes receive the signals sent by television satellites.

Large bowl-shaped antennas send and receive signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. These antennas can be turned to track a satellite as it moves across the sky. Many artificial satellites are communication satellites used for things like telephone calls, live television broadcasts, and computer links up. Other satellites help with a variety of different jobs from guiding airplanes and ships to weather forecasting.

Many satellites have huge solar panels that collect the Sun's ray. These make electricity to recharge onboard batteries that power the satellite.

Space Litter

Although thousands of artificial satellites are currently orbiting Earth, many are no longer working or they are bits that have fallen off other satellites or rockets.

Satellite Catalogue

There are many different types of satellite
  • Communications Satellite capture radio signals and send them to other places in the world. They help us to keep in touch.

  • Resource satellites take pictures of natural resources. These are sent to scientists who turn them into maps of things such as all deposits.

  • Navigation satellites are used by pilots and sailors to help them establish their position. In case of emergency, they can also pick up distress signals.

  • Military satellites are used by the armed forces for navigation, communication, and spying by taking pictures and intercepting radio waves.

  • Scientific satellites help experts to study the planets, the Sun, other solar systems, and things like asteroids, comets, and black holes.

  • Weather satellites help scientists to study weather like resources satellites, they have cameras and they have work in a similar way. Weather satellites take pictures of Earth to show the type and location of clouds and to measure land and sea temperatures.

How are space agencies launching new types of objects into orbit?

We launch satellites, spacecraft, and other objects into space using rockets. Rockets carry tons of propellant, also known as fuel, because propellant provides tons of energy to drive rockets away from the Earth's surface and because propellant makes it simpler to reach rockets outside of the Earth owing to the tugging of Earth gravity. Because of Earth's gravity, the largest and heaviest spacecraft require the most robust propellant rockets. When rockets reach the appropriate distance from Earth, the satellite or spacecraft is released.

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