Space ambitions: the most ambitious projects of the development of the Universe

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Space ambitions: the most ambitious projects of the development of the Universe
Space ambitions: the most ambitious projects of the development of the Universe

July 21 marks 50 years since humans first set foot on the lunar surface: Neil Armstrong took "a small step for one person, but a huge leap for all mankind." In 1969, this was unthinkable, but in the history of space exploration there are many examples of truly grandiose programs.

Space ambitions: the most ambitious projects of the development of the Universe
Space ambitions: the most ambitious projects of the development of the Universe

The Apollo 11 mission, which brought Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon, was being prepared in an atmosphere of total time pressure: in 1962, President Kennedy announced that the first American would step on the moon in the 1960s, but by the end of the decade the United States was lagged behind the USSR in the lunar race. Therefore, when it became clear that the epoch-making event would nevertheless take place, the preparations for the historical expedition were closely followed by documentary filmmakers who recorded every little detail on film.

Some of these archival footage has recently been digitized, and has never been shown to the public before, but to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it will be featured in Apollo: Found Videos, which will air on Discovery Channel on July 21 at 10:00 pm. We are talking about this historical mission, as well as about other ambitious programs for the exploration of the Universe. A new era of humanity: "Sputnik 1".

October 4, 1957

Against the background of the most complex manned missions and high-tech multi-module space stations, the launch of the first simplest satellite of the Earth may not seem such a grandiose event, but in the historical context, its scale is difficult to overestimate. The Soviet spacecraft "Sputnik-1", launched from Baikonur on October 4, 1957, opened the space era in the development of civilization: it was from it that the active exploration of extraterrestrial space began.

Soviet engineers and designers - Sergei Korolev, Mstislav Keldysh, Mikhail Tikhonravov, Nikolai Lidorenko, Boris Chekunov - had to act relying solely on their knowledge and assumptions, since no one had done anything like this before, there was no solid scientific and technical base and accumulated international experience.

Sputnik-1 was not assigned super-complicated tasks: it had to check the starting calculations of the engineers and how the equipment would work under the new conditions, to study the radio waves of the transmitter and the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere. Sputnik 1 was a metal sphere 58 cm in diameter with four external pin radio antennas.

For maximum visibility, the surface of the sphere has been polished to a high gloss. "Sputnik-1" was moving at a speed of about 29 thousand kilometers per hour, and each orbit along the orbit took 96.2 minutes. It sent signals for 21 days, after which the transmitter batteries were discharged, and the satellite itself burned down on January 4, 1958 in the upper atmosphere of the Earth.

The launch of Sputnik-1 not only opened a new era in the history of mankind, but also launched the space race between the USSR and the United States, as well as further political, military, technological and scientific developments. Man on the Moon: Apollo 11.

July 21, 1969

After the USSR successfully launched the first artificial satellite of the Earth, the first man into space, received the first photographs of the far side of the Moon during the Luna-3 mission and, albeit inadvertently, put the first satellite into heliocentric orbit, it became clear that the United States was seriously lagging behind in the space race.

Therefore, in 1962, President Kennedy announced that the Americans would be on the moon before the end of this decade - that is, within the next seven years. NASA's lunar manned space flight program was named Apollo and became a national idea, work on which was carried out at a record pace. However, after the tragedy at the start of the first spacecraft of the program, Apollo 1, during which three astronauts died in a fire, preparations had to be suspended for 21 months.

This meant that by the end of 1968, the United States had only 12 months to accomplish the almost impossible: to manage to carry out a successful landing on the moon in an extremely short time. Dress rehearsals of the main event were three successive missions - Apollo 8 (December 21), which made the first manned flight around the Moon, Apollo 9 (March 3) and, finally, Apollo 10.

None of these missions, of course, included practicing the most difficult stages of the expedition: landing on the moon, staying on its surface and takeoff back. Therefore, the Apollo 11 crew - Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins - had to train a lot on ground simulators, trying to envisage all possible scenarios.

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 took off from Cape Canaveral, and on July 20, the crew landed a lunar module in the southwestern region of the Sea of Tranquility. Soon, on July 21 at 02:56, the commander of the ship stepped onto the surface of the moon - Neil Armstrong made his "small step for one person and a giant leap for all mankind."

Fifteen minutes later, pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin followed him, while Michael Collins remained in circumlunar orbit. The astronauts spent a total of 21 hours 36 minutes on the moon and collected more than 21 kilograms of soil samples that were delivered to Earth. However, the lunar rock was not an end in itself of the mission: NASA's grandiose plan was to land on the moon, so that for the first time in the history of civilization, a person stepped onto the surface of another astronomical object.

The incredible event was watched by 600 million people around the world, and every step of the final flight preparation was documented on film. You can find out how NASA implemented the mission step by step on July 21 at 22:00 from the Discovery Channel "Apollo: Found Videos", which includes some previously unknown archive footage taken during the preparation of the expedition.

Mankind's most expensive project: ISS. November 20, 1998

No infrastructure, construction or scientific project can compare with the International Space Station either in its unprecedented scope or in the ambitiousness of its design: over $ 150 billion was spent on the construction of the ISS.

It was launched in 1998 and according to the preliminary plan was supposed to serve until 2024, but today we are talking about extending the operation for another six years. In addition, the ISS has become a program of international cooperation that brought together 15 countries at once, including Russia and the United States - long-standing rivals in the space race.

The ISS is a large-sized controlled multi-module station, the blocks of which were delivered to orbit one by one. The configuration of the station was approved in 1996: it was supposed to consist of the Russian segment, which was based on the modernized project of the fourth-generation orbital station Mir-2, and the American one (Japan, Italy, Canada, Brazil and the European Space Station also contributed to this segment. agency).

Already in 1998, Russia sent the first module into orbit - the Zarya functional cargo block, which was initially used for power supply, temperature maintenance and course control; it was followed by the launch of the American connection module "Unity".

Then the station was assembled as a designer, and at different times 15 modules were delivered here - service, laboratory, connecting, scientific, warehouse, residential, supply and experimental. The first people ascended the ISS in December 1998, and since then the station has been permanently inhabited, the crews are delivered here regularly: in just over 20 years of operation, more than 230 astronauts have visited the station.

The ISS serves as a grand laboratory, where, in the unique conditions of microgravity, vacuum, cosmic radiation, not weakened by the earth's atmosphere, the crew members conduct experiments in the field of biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other scientific disciplines.

The station is also suitable for testing spacecraft systems and equipment necessary for flights to the Moon and Mars, and the AMS-02 detector installed on the ISS was designed to determine the proportion of antiparticles among cosmic radiation, that is, to search for dark matter. On pure private enthusiasm: “Bereshit ".

February 22, 2019

Large-scale projects usually involve government support and the participation of large government organizations, primarily national space agencies.

It is difficult to imagine that large-scale programs for launching satellites and orbital stations, landing a man on the moon and exploring the habitable zone can be initiated, funded and supervised by individuals. However, the story of the team that launched the Bereshit spacecraft on February 22, 2019 refutes this stereotype.

The spacecraft, created by the private company SpaceIL with the participation of the Israel Aviation Industry concern, became the first lunar landing spacecraft built with private investment. It all started with the Google Lunar X Prize, announced in 2007: according to the terms of the award, a prize of $ 25 million was to be received by a team that would present a lunar rover capable of soft landing on an Earth satellite, moving on the surface and transmitting images and video in high permission.

In an interview for the Discovery Channel film "Seconds to Lunar", the founder of SpaceIl, engineer Yariv Bash, says that he immediately became interested in the idea and simply wrote on his page on the social network: "Who wants to go to the Moon?" Two responded: 23-year-old biophysicist Jonathan Weintraub and 27-year-old programmer Kfir Damari.

Since all three were not even 30 years old, and also due to the lack of serious practical knowledge and experience, few people took the team's request seriously, and the plans to create a lunar rover were called utopian, if not adventurous. However, as we moved forward, skeptics' doubts were dispelled: there was hope that Israel could soon become the fourth country to land on the moon.

The entire country followed the progress of the team and the success of the engineers, and the launch of Bereshit from Cape Canaveral in February 2019 brought together viewers from all over the world. However, “Bereshit” didn’t have enough seconds to bring its country the title of “lunar” power: it crashed on the surface of the Moon, but still managed to transmit several pictures to the Earth on its approach.

You can learn more about the history of the team of enthusiasts, about how the work on the first private lunar apparatus was carried out, as well as about the reasons for its crash in the film "Seconds to Landing", which will be shown on July 18 at 19:00 at the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics as part of the "Lunar Weeks”and July 20 at 22:00 on the Discovery Channel.

And apple trees will bloom on Mars: the future greening program of the red planet

Perhaps one of the most fantastic space exploration programs currently underway in the United States is the NASA Advanced Innovative Concepts project, which financially supports progressive developments and initiatives to explore other astronomical objects.

Anyone can submit their project, the main thing is that the plan should be technically feasible, at least in the long term, and not completely abstract. In 2017, 15 applications were selected, one of the most interesting of which was the Mars greening plan.

The author of the program is Adam Erkin of the University of California. According to his plan, it is necessary to remove microorganisms that will make the soil of Mars less toxic and at the same time can serve as fertilizer. First of all, it is necessary to neutralize the perchlorates contained in the Martian soil: these are toxic derivatives of perchloric acid, which were discovered by the Phoenix and Curiosity devices.

Scientists hope that the already accumulated knowledge about the properties of the Martian soil will greatly help them advance in research. This data should be sufficient to recreate realistic laboratory conditions on Earth.

In a special chamber for the growth of microbes, the environmental parameters corresponding to the Martian ones will be recreated: for example, pressure from 10 kPa, temperature from -60 degrees to 40 degrees, light intensity up to 25 klx, ultraviolet radiation. Erkin's team plans to study how and what genetic mechanisms ensure survival, growth and activity in these conditions, in order to turn a lifeless planet into a green garden in the future.

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