Rocket FlightWhat is a rocket?A rocket is a missile or aircraft that produces thrust by burning fuel and using propellants. It is different from a jet engine as it stores all of the fuel it needs, whereas jets and aeroplanes need oxygen from air to work. This is why rockets can travel out of the earth’s atmosphere whereas jets cannot. Rockets have a variety of purposes, including:Space explorationLaunching of satellitesNuclear warfare(Only recently) Commercial cargo transportation and private space toursHow does a rocket fly?Rockets use Isaac Newton’s 3rd law of motion to fly; “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. The rocket ignites it’s fuel, and it all pushes downwards, as the opposite reaction pushes the rocket upwards.
This is known as ‘thrust’. Their slim, aerodynamic design and incredible fuel capacity allows rockets to travel at great speeds for a sustained period of time.What is the difference between solid fuel and liquid fuel boosters? Give examples of both and list what they are used for.Both solid and liquid fuel is used in large rockets, however at different times of the flight. Solid fuel, typically a mixture of oxidisers and aluminium oxide, begins as a liquid and is poured into the boosters. Over a few days it hardens and is ready to be used. The advantages of solid fuel is that it is cheaper than its liquid counterpart and provides greater thrust, however it cannot be controlled; once it is ignited, it can’t be stopped.
Thus, NASA, and the ESA use solid fuel to do the majority of the work into getting rockets into orbit.However, if solid fuel was to be used as the sole propellant, the rocket and payload would be torn to shreds by the exceptional speed. So instead they combine liquid fuel and typically liquid oxygen to propel the rocket during the later stages of the flight. This can be easily throttled, allowing the rocket’s speed to be controlled.Who was Wernher von Braun? Write a short biography of his life.Dr Wernher von Braun was a highly influential rocket developer and space explorer in the 20th century. In his early years he was fascinated by the possibilities of space exploration, and as a result studied calculus and trigonometry in order to understand the physics of rockets.
After studying engineering at the University of Berlin, he was employed by the German army in 1932, developing liquid fuelled rockets. Von Braun’s team created the V-2 ballistic missile, the world’s first long range guided military missile. Measuring at over fourteen metres tall and weighing an enormous twelve tons, it was first launched in 1942 during the Second World War.Knowing the Allies were on the approaching the rocket complex, von Braun moved south to Bavaria before he was eventually captured by the Americans. For fifteen years von Braun worked for the U.S. army in Texas, their military wanting ballistic missiles for themselves.
In 1950, his team of 125 was moved to Alabama and designed the Jupiter and Redstone ballistic missiles, as well as three launch vehicles (rockets used to send a payload into space). The Jupiter C, designed by von Braun’s team, was the first rocket to carry a satellite into space.From then on, von Braun went on to write several books and articles based on space exploration, becoming a prominent advocate for the subject. He became NASA’s director of the Marshall Space Flight Centre, and died in 1977. Ultimately, Wernher von Braun had a considerable influence on the design, uses and application of rockets in his time, and laid the groundwork for space exploration in the future.Why do you think the scientists were taken by the allies after WW2?The scientists were obviously very knowledgeable and skilful in creating rockets for warfare, and the Allies wanted these scientists to create rockets for themselves. From the Allies’ perspective, the scientists were valuable assets for the war, and the Allies didn’t want to be left behind in the creation of lethal rockets.
What sort of fuel does NASA use to launch their rockets?NASA uses both solid and liquid fuel to propel their rockets into orbit. The most common solid propellant NASA uses, according to NASA’s Chief of exploration vehicle officer Bryan K Smith, is a mix of Ammonium Perchlorate and Powdered Aluminium, pre-mixed to form a rubber like substance stored in the boosters. The most effective liquid propellant NASA use is liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that is mixed in flight when needed.What is a “payload”? Give an example.The payload of a rocket is dependant on the rocket’s mission, however in general the payload of a rocket is the portion the completes the purpose of the rocket. For example, the most common payload of a rocket is a satellite. Exploration rockets’ payloads can be humans or various recording equipment, whereas the payload of an offensive rocket would be its nuclear warhead.
Who was the first man in space?Not to be confused with the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, the first person in space was cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. He entered space on April 12th 1961, and his 108 minute flight earned him the admirable title of first man in space. Opinion: Commercial space flight”I believe that space travel will one day become as common as airline travel is today. I’m convinced, however, that the true future of space travel does not lie with government agencies — NASA is still obsessed with the idea that the primary purpose of the space program is science — but real progress will come from private companies competing to provide the ultimate adventure ride, and NASA will receive the trickle-down benefits.”- BUZZ ALDRINIt’s being labelled ‘the space race of the 21st century’, as private businesses are in competition to introduce the world to commercial space flight. Companies such as Virgin Galactic, Blue Origins and SpaceX are currently trialling the possibilities of launching cost effective rockets for private purposes, however there is a cloud of doubt over its impact. The innovation can allow high paying customers to experience space first hand, as well as privately transport cargo to and from the international space station.
SpaceX have the ultimate goal is to be able to colonise other planets, however possible environmental and martial consequences may shadow the commercial benefits.CEO of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson has announced plans to send tourists into space this year. In 2017 he said “I think I’d be very disappointed if we’re not into space with a test flight by the end of the year and I’m not into space myself next year”. His space test flights have produced groundbreaking results since, and with around 500 potential customers reserving a spot, it appears private space tourism could become a new, lucrative industry. Despite a hefty cost of $350,000 AUD per person, this business has potential to attract major tourism while allowing the lucky few to experience outer space, benefiting all involved. It seems unlikely that the price for orbital travel will remain that high, and as it decreases, the demand and market will increase. A 2013 report funded by the Federal Aviation and Administration Office* predicted that the space tourism industry, with sufficient public support, could eclipse 1.
6 billion dollars in revenue in the next ten years (as of 2012). Ultimately, the prospect of the future space tourism industry is capable of reaping many financial gains and overall benefit the many involved.*(http://www.nss.org/transportation/Suborbital_Reusable_Vehicles_A_10_Year_Forecast_of_Market_Demand.pdf)While cost effective suborbital travel opens possibilities for tourism, it simultaneously could deem a wide range of offensive martial options feasible. In the past, high launch costs have restricted use of rockets for military purposes.
In the words of Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington; “One of the reasons we have not weaponized space before now is that it did not make sense to do so, it was too expensive relative to the terrestrial alternatives, [and] all the new military space missions that could become cost-feasible to the US could become cost-feasible for other countries, and create a lot of challenges.” As the lead author of a recent report on low cost space access, it outlines that rockets are capable of launching missiles at satellites or targets on the ground, possibly with nuclear warheads. The rockets can then be more or less reused and the process can be repeated. Offensive missiles can be intercepted and troops and supplies could even be transported to anywhere in the world within 45 minutes. These offensive options combined with recent government instability across the globe is a recipe for disaster.’Our aspirational goal is to send our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022 … and eventually a self sustaining civilisation’ – SpaceX Cheaper space exploration and payload launches opens the door towards colonising other planets, in particular Mars. The more cost effective rockets become, the more exploring and testing can be done with the ultimate goal to create a sustainable civilisation.
Transportation of cargo would become significantly less expensive, and low overall cost allows the process to be performed much quicker. The exciting prospect of living on another planet has a range of advantages, including the potential for groundbreaking scientific discoveries, diplomatic rewards and another home for human life if needed in the unpredictable future. Most of all it is a challenge, what we, as humans, thrive on. Reaching the pinnacle of human achievement has always been our focus. Commercial companies are inching closer to that dream every day, progressing our society as a whole.With the increase of launches that cost effective rockets bring, long term damage to the environment becomes an alarming consequence. Rocket engines emit reactive gases that cause ozone particles to break apart.
The particles of aluminium oxide and soot that are also released act as a catalyst, increasing the rate in which the ozone is destroyed. A report on the topic in 2009 revealed that rockets are responsible for approximately 1% of ozone depletion, however with the ‘new space race’ fast approaching, and the lucrative business of commercial space flight, it is predicted that; “If left unregulated, rocket launches by the year 2050 could result in more destruction that was ever caused by CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons, formerly used in aerosols).” – Prof. Darin Toohey of Colorado Boulder’s oceanic and atmospheric department. “This isn’t urgent, but if we wait 30 years it will be.”Ultimately, cost effective space flight opens the door to a wide range of possibilities, whether it be in space tourism, scientific exploration or the goal of colonisation on other planets. However, it also allows the abuse of such technology, for warfare.
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