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History of Flight
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History of Flight
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History of Flight
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In the early days of the shuttle program, NASA wasn’t sure how crews of five, six, and seven people would fare in the limited space of the orbiter. Here the crew of STS-51A, who flew in November 1984, give a tour of the upper and lower decks. Onboard were Rick Hauck, Dave Walker, Joe Allen, Anna Fisher, and Dale Gardner. Allen, who had been an astronaut since 1967 but hadn’t flown until 1982, was making his second flight.
STS-51A: Life on a Small Spaceship
Most crews show movies of their dramatic ride to orbit. The crew of STS-122, led by commander Stephen Frick, who narrates this clip, did an especially good job of capturing all the milestones, from strap-in to the jettisoning of the external fuel tank a little over eight minutes after launch. Onboard were fellow NASA astronauts Alan Poindexter, Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, and Stan Love, along with German astronauts Hans Schlegel and Léopold Eyharts.
The STS-39 mission in April-May 1991 was the first Pentagon-sponsored shuttle flight to be unclassified, which meant the astronauts were free to talk about some of the experiments they'd done. Among the views they captured with low-light TV imagery were scenes of oil wells burning in Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
One of the space shuttle’s great achievements was launching and periodically servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, the most powerful astronomical instrument in history. Here the crew of STS-31, starting with astronomer-turned-astronaut Steve Hawley, explains the delicate teamwork required to remove Hubble from the shuttle’s cargo bay and leave it in orbit.
STS-31: Launching Hubble
In this clip from the 1967 Soviet movie “A Cruise to the Stars,” cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is shown training for his historic mission as engineers test various systems of the Vostok capsule. Accepting the task before him, Gagarin tells space officials that if he encounters any difficulties in space, “I will overcome them as the communists do.” On launch day, April 12, 1961, Chief Designer Sergei Korolev radios his best wishes as Gagarin takes off. After his 108-minute flight, Gagarin becomes an international sensation, with parades and celebrations in his honor. “A Cruise to the Stars,” which runs 52 minutes, was made to commemorate the first 10 years of the Soviet space program. “We do not consider the conquest of space as the achievement of only our people but as that of all mankind,” the narrator says. “We happily place it at the disposal of all nations and peoples in the name of progress, happiness, and welfare of all men.”
Excerpt: "A Cruise to the Stars"
It was a scene straight out of Apollo 13—astronauts and ground controllers working together to improvise a new plan when Plan A had failed. The task on Endeavour's first flight in May 1992 was to capture the stranded INTELSAT-VI satellite, attach a new rocket motor, and send it to a new orbit. But when early attempts to grab the satellite with a special "capture bar" failed, Pierre Thuot, Rick Hieb and Tom Akers had to go outside and steady the 9,200-pound spacecraft by hand—the first and only three-man spacewalk in shuttle history.
A contemporary NASA documentary on Alan Shepard's 1961 Mercury-Redstone 3 flight, with scenes of astronaut training and spacecraft preparation. Old-school style, but plenty of good footage.
The Flight of Freedom 7
At ten feet wide, 22 feet long, and 4,620 pounds without ballast, the M2-F2 flew—and hit the desert—like an anvil. Forty-four years ago, Bruce Peterson barely survived the beast.
NASA Lifting Body Crash, 1967
In 1953 the Douglas Aircraft Company of Long Beach, California, produced a single copy of a needle-nose jet design, which pioneered the use of titanium for light weight and strength, and introduced new technology for aircraft tires. But the X-3 was underpowered with its Westinghouse J-34 engine, and the model never reached its planned speeds. During a test flight on October 27, 1954, pilot Joseph A. Walker performed two rudder-fixed aileron rolls at speeds of Mach .92 and 1.05, which led to a phenomenon called inertial coupling, where the heavy, high-density fuselage cannot be stabilized by the narrow wings and fuselage. Walker was able to recover control. Air Force testing lasted through 1956 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) high-speed flight station, which was later known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. In this silent, color footage, the X-3 instruments are calibrated during a preflight check, the aircraft takes off, lands with the aid of a parachute, and is trucked away across the California desert. Video: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
The X-3 Stiletto
Our “How Things Work” feature for November 2011 focuses on the landing of the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory in August 2012. But that will be just the start of this most ambitious Mars mission yet, which is due to launch from Cape Canaveral on November 25. In this animation from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we see Curiosity’s journey from Earth, the dramatic descent to the surface, and glimpses of the kinds of science investigations the car-size rover will conduct during its multi-year stay on Mars. Video: JPL
Mars Science Laboratory
Get out your red-blue 3-D glasses and take a narrated tour of Vesta, the second largest asteroid in the solar system, as viewed by the Dawn spacecraft in the summer of 2011. Video: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Vesta in 3-D
International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank captured this spectacular imagery of Comet Lovejoy, viewed from about 240 miles above the Earth's horizon on December 21. The astronauts were over Tasmania, just before sunrise. Two days later, the station received three new crew members. Follow astronaut Don Pettit's blog at blogs.airspacemag.com/pettit. Source: NASA
Comet Lovejoy from the ISS
Expedition 30 astronauts on board the International Space Station shot this high-definition sequence on December 29, 2011 during a 19-minute pass starting over central Africa and crossing to the South Indian Ocean. The starry band of the Milky Way is plainly visible, and Comet Lovejoy can be seen very faintly in the center of the frame (about halfway through) while storms flash below. The pass ends as the sun is rising over the dark ocean. Follow Expedition 30 astronaut Don Pettit's blog at blogs.airspacemag.com/pettit. Video: ISS Expedition 30 Crew
The Milky Way From Orbit
The sprawl of major metropolitan areas, the lights on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and the northern aurora are all visible in this sequence of images shot by the astronauts on the International Space Station on January 29. The time-lapse is speeded up slightly more than 11x: the pass actually took 15 minutes, beginning over Central America and heading northeast. Video: NASA/Expedition 30 Astronauts
The East Coast at Night
On board the International Space Station in May 2012, Expedition 31 astronaut Don Pettit opens the shutters covering the cupola observation windows in time to watch the moon rise. The time-lapse scene was photographed from the airlock of the Station's Russian segment. Video: NASA/ISS Expedition 31 Crew
Moonrise on the Space Station
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems' Dream Chaser mini-shuttle is lifted by an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter near the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County, Colo., on May 29, during a captive-carry test. The mini-shuttle, designed to carry passengers to Earth orbit, will begin free flight tests later this summer. Video: Sierra Nevada Corp.
Dream Chaser Captive Carry Test
On board the International Space Station in June 2012, Expedition 31 astronaut Don Pettit uses a fisheye lens to film out the window of the Japanese Kibo module. Video: NASA/ ISS Expedition 31 Crew
The View Out Kibo's Window
The International Space Station orbits about 250 miles above Earth. Although the atmosphere at that altitude is wispy, it still exerts enough drag to slow the ISS and cause it to lose altitude. At the same time, the giant, wing-like solar arrays swivel to track the sun, introducing disturbances to the station's orbit and alignment that build up over time. As a result, the ISS needs to be reboosted at regular intervals, and its heading and alignment need to be adjusted constantly. Animation: Bill Abreu
Space Station Steering
It may not look like much in this sequence of images taken by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft from a distance of half a billion miles in January, but the comet identified as C/2012 S1 (ISON) is shaping up to be the most spectacular comet in a generation. If it doesn't break into pieces first, the comet should be among the brightest objects in the sky during the winter of 2013/2014. Video: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMd
This globe of Mercury was assembled from thousands of images taken by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which has been orbiting the planet since 2011. The colors are enhanced to show rocks of different composition and age. Rays from fresh impact craters appear light blue or white. Darker blues show areas of what's called "low reflectance material," and tan areas are lava plains. Video: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
During a February 2013 U.N. meeting on international strategies for protecting Earth from incoming asteroids, astronaut Chris Hadfield, a member of the Association of Space Explorers, addresses attendees from onboard the International Space Station. Video: Association of Space Explorers
Chris Hadfield On the Asteroid Threat
NASA's plan to retrieve an asteroid starts with a robotic mission to rendezvous with a 25-foot space rock in 2019 and place it in a capture bag. The asteroid would then be returned to the neighborhood of Earth and the Moon for closer examination by astronauts, who would launch in 2021 in the new Orion spacecraft. Video: NASA
Asteroid Retrieval Mission
On April 29, 2013, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle fired its engine in flight for the first time to surpass Mach 1, after being dropped from the company's WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane. Mark Stucky (pilot) and Mike Alsbury (co-pilot) were at the controls of SS2 for the test, flown over Mojave, California. Both are test pilots for Scaled Composites, who built the spaceship. In this first test, the engine burned for 16 seconds, and the vehicle reached an altitude of 55,000 feet. The company plans more powered tests this year, and expects SpaceShipTwo to reach the edge of space - above 62 miles -- before the end of 2013. Video: Virgin Galactic
SpaceShipTwo First Powered Flight
Plants bloom, decay, and bloom again in this visualization of global vegetation cover based on a year's worth of data from the Suomi NPP Earth-orbiting satellite.
Vegetation on Earth
This animation, produced by manufacturer Sierra Nevada, shows Dream Chaser carrying out the mission it was designed for: taking off from Earth, flying to and docking with the International Space Station, and returning. Unlike the two other vehicles competing for the job of space shuttle successor, Dream Chaser has a shape similar to that of its forebear. However, its propulsion is different: Dream Chaser is launched on an Atlas V. On the way to the station, the two stages of the launcher gradually fall away, and from then on, Dream Chaser is powered by its hybrid engines. On the return trip, the vehicle would experience less that 1.5 Gs on reentry into Earth's atmosphere, and would glide to a landing on an airport runway.
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser
Leonardo on Mars
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