Emmanuel Leroux Sanders
Tuesday, May 29, 2001
You are probably wondering why I chose to do my year-end project on space exploration. You may think that this essay is not about my year at Hudson High School. Itís not about things I have accomplished, and those are very good points, but the reason I chose to do my year-end project on Space exploration is simple - it is me. Space exploration is one of my many interests. By reading this you will be learning more about what interests me (and my outlook on the future) and by doing so you will learn a little part of me that you may not have known other wise.
I think that a good place to start this project is when the USSR launched Sputnik-1 in 1957. To me this is when space exploration began, mostly because this proved that a piece of hardware could be placed in orbit. This was a big achievement on the part of the USSR and paved the way to the explorations of the heavens. Another important space craft was the Luna-1;not only the first man made object to fly-by the moon but it also discovered Solar Winds. Solar Winds are made up of a flux of particles, chiefly protons and electrons together with nuclei of heavier elements in small numbers, that are accelerated by the high temperatures of the solar corona, or outer regions of the Sun, to velocities large enough to allow them to escape from the Sun's gravitational field.
Although most people only talk about successful missions, I would also like to point out soem not so successful missions that were launched in the same time period of Sputnick-1 and Luna 1, from 1957 to 1960. In this period 12 missions were launched and of those 3 of them were unable to leave earth and 2 of them failed to reach their targets (the moon in both cases).
The next big step in space exploration came in 1969 when Thomas Stafford,
Eugene A. Cernan and John W. Young. They became the first people to orbit the
moon (they did so 10 times), this was the final check of the systems because the
next Apollo mission would land on the moon. Apollo 11 was manned by Neil A.
Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins. Neil A. Aromstrong became
the first person to walk on the moon. As he stepped onto the surface he spoke
the famous words ďThat's one small step for man, one giant leap for
mankind." This was the first time we stepped on a celestial body other than
earth, riveting the imagination of the world.
I canít talk about space exploration and leave out one of the most important missions of all Apollo 13. Apollo 13 was one of the most important space exploration missions not because if was successful, but because it was not. It reminded us all of the perils of space travel and how so far away from earth your all alone and if something goes wrong you canít always count on earth to help you, although in this case they were saved by engineers from earth, future mission such as the Mars missions (I am saying this with the assumptions that we will someday go to Mars) will have to be comprised with very innovative people if they want to survive because the average delay in communications between earth and Mars is about 30 minutes.
Man also got many lessons from the Soviet space station Mir. Mir was launched in 1986 and was over time expanded with other modules much like the current International Space station. Mir allowed us to test the endurance of mankind. It showed us not only the physical effects of long term space travel, such as the weakening of bones and muscles if an astronauts doesnít exercise enough, but also the physiological effects of being trapped in a very confined weightless environment. This could turn a person crazy if they are not psychoanalyzed often. The record for the longest space duration was set by Valery Polyakov, on Mir who returned to earth on March 22, 1995 after having spent 438 days on the space station. Mir was all and all very successful in its 15 years or service, having only had one major accident, a fire, which was contained and did not spread to far. I personally think that Mir should have staid in orbit and that a country should have bought the station from the Russians perhaps even the United States could have bought it. It would have made for a good back-up to the international space station should something happen to it and the crew was unable to return home.
All these missions were pioneering marks of manís will to explore and
learn more about the universe around us, I think that the next major mile stone
in space exploration will be when man steps on Mars for the first time. We are
sending a lot of probes and rovers to study Mars but due to the delay and slow
bandwidth, a space craft sent to Mars can only do so much on itís own,
controlling it from earth is out of the question due to the distance of Mars.
The average signal to Mars takes 30 minutes to send, and on top of that a rover
on the land can transmit only about 3Mb of data per day. Those beautiful
panoramas that we see of Mars can sometimes take weeks to transmit. Although
there is work on an interplanetary web that would allow more data to be
transmitted by using old and new space craft as relay stations, these ideas are
still in their infancy.
Sending people to Mars would allow us to be in direct control of the machines. We could do conduct the tests right there on the spot and get the results instantaneously. We could also gather ore relevant data because we are a lot smarter and faster then the rovers. We could set up gardens for future missiona to have food. We could also set up machines that would produce fuel for the rockets from the Martian surface perhaps even leading to a permanent colony on Mars. All the building blocks are there; we only need to find the money necessary to do it. New propulsion technologies are also making getting to Mars faster, The Ion drive could get us there in 3 Months, this means not only that we need to bring less supplies for the trip (hence making the trip cheaper) but it will also limit the astronauts exposure to radiation.
Even further in the future I could imagine a space ship with using a yet to be discovered propulsion system visiting other planets and stars, this ship going so quickly that time would slow inside the ship giving the appearance to itís passengers of going faster than light, making trips out of the solar system that would appear to take weeks and not years. Perhaps even discovering forms whether they are intelligent or not. Perhaps even traveling to parallel dimensions also known as other realities. I believe that if the human race doesnít destroy itself first, it could accomplish a lot.
http://www.solarviews.com/eng/history.htm - History of Space Exploration
+ All the scientific magazines I have read over the years.