from Snoopy: A Beagle of Mars
Schulz, Charles M.
KaBoom!, 2020 [electronic resource]
I grew up when space exploration was an exciting frontier. We watched TV shows like “My Favorite Martian,” “The Jetsons,” and “Lost in Space.” “Telstar” shot to the #1 spot on the pop music charts.
At school, we gathered in the gym to watch spaceship launches. A local TV channel projected the news in real time. We were in awe. Lots of my classmates wanted to be scientists, astronauts, and explorers. I did not.
I liked the safety of my own front door. I liked feeling cool grass between my toes on a hot, summer day. I liked reading books about kids like me, kinda boring, but grounded.
Tomorrow afternoon at 4:33 EDT, SpaceX will launch its Crew Dragon spaceship. (Wednesday, 5/27/2020) It’s not the first time the shuttle will see space, but it’s the first time it will carry people when two experienced astronauts climb aboard and fly to the International Space Station.
The 27 foot tall craft, about the height of a three-story building, will transport Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. To watch live coverage, go to NASA.gov then type ISS in the search box on the top right. This will take you to a live stream of the blast off.
The International Space Station is a space laboratory. NASA is using the what they learn there to help us understand how spending time in space and in a confined area affects people. The goal is to make it possible for humans to travel farther into space than ever before.
Finding the ISS while traveling 17,000 miles per hour in orbit around the earth is a tricky business, especially since the space station is also moving. Traveling about 17,500 miles per hour, the ISS is in its own orbit about 200 miles above the earth. It makes one full orbit every hour and a half. The scientists have it all worked out though. It is more a matter of getting close and doing a series of U-turn maneuvers, kinda waiting until the space station finds its way to the craft. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition19/earth_day.html
The Crew Dragon is expected to dock on the space station late Thursday morning. So about 17 hours to travel 200 miles at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour.
On the face of it, it seems like, (if not for being in space) you could walk there faster! But, I’m not an astrophysicist.
It’s the first time in eleven years that a shuttle will launch from Kennedy Space Center. An American crew will take off from American soil in an American built craft. For the last nine years, the United States has been depending on Russia to transport our astronauts to the International Space Station and bring them home. NASA had been working on the development of a shuttle, but cost overruns and delays put plans on hold.
Now in private/public ventures, four different companies are working on designing re-usable space craft. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, of course. But Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed Martin, too.The plan is for the space capsule to be used and reused for 10 flights before it will need significant refurbishing.
In the 1990s, the ISS was renamed and redesigned to reduce costs and expand international involvement. In 1993, the United States and Russia decided to merge their separate facilities into one, and shortly after invited Japan to join them. Canada, Brazil and eleven members of the European Space Agency joined forces, too.
The ISS has been continuously occupied by humans since November, 2003. Astronauts and cosmonauts come and go, staying for various amounts of time, and performing different experiments. “Moving astronauts and cosmonauts, science experiments, food, water, air, spare parts, and other supplies to and from the ISS is a highly choreographed international operation that must be executed with near perfection, every time."
Nationalism is raising its ugly head in all different countries and parts of societies. But we may be witnessing a whole new era. Scientists tend to live in a world where cooperation is necessary and expected. Space exploration and space travel are cooperative ventures where learning and teaching each other is commonplace. In the area of space science, at least, many people have learned to work together toward common goals.
The goal is Mars, and by 2034, to invite regular people along for the ride. (see “Far Out!” 7/16/19) I’m not sure I’d sign up if I got the opportunity, but I bet lots of people would.
--stay curious! (and fly high)