« Back to Glossary Index

**Historical Development of Spaceflight:**
– William Leitch proposed space travel using rockets in 1861.
– Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s work in 1903 influenced spaceflight.
– Robert H. Goddard’s liquid-fueled rocket launched in 1926.
– Nazi Germany’s V-2 rockets reached space in 1944.
– Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, followed by Vostok 1 in 1961.

**Technical Aspects of Spaceflight:**
– Rockets are the only means to reach orbit or beyond.
– Outer space is beyond the Kármán line, 100 kilometers above Earth.
– Astrodynamics studies spacecraft trajectories related to gravitational and propulsion effects.
– Transfer energy refers to the total energy imparted by a rocket stage to its payload.
– Reentry vehicles present blunt shapes to reduce heat generated during reentry.

**Spacecraft Operations and Missions:**
– Spacecraft approach a space station by matching orbits and performing orbital maneuvers.
– Vehicles in orbit have high kinetic energy that must be dissipated for safe landing.
– Sub-orbital spaceflight returns to the atmosphere after reaching space.
– Earth to Earth transportation aims for rapid transport between locations.
– Interplanetary spaceflight is travel between planets in a solar system.

**Challenges and Considerations in Spaceflight:**
– Astronauts experience weightlessness in microgravity environments.
– Radiation issues due to Van Allen belts, solar radiation, and cosmic radiation.
– Life support systems allow survival in outer space.
– Rockets exhaust greenhouse gases and toxic components.
– Space law addresses issues like space traffic management and liability.

**Global Coordination and Spacefaring Nations:**
– Map showing countries with spaceflight capability.
– United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
– Germany as the first spacefaring nation in 1944.
– Elon Musk and SpaceX’s concept for suborbital Earth to Earth transportation.
– Major launch markets for communication satellites.

Spaceflight (Wikipedia)

Spaceflight (or space flight) is an application of astronautics to fly objects, usually spacecraft, into or through outer space, either with or without humans on board. Most spaceflight is uncrewed and conducted mainly with spacecraft such as satellites in orbit around Earth, but also includes space probes for flights beyond Earth orbit. Such spaceflight operate either by telerobotic or autonomous control. The more complex human spaceflight has been pursued soon after the first orbital satellites and has reached the Moon and permanent human presence in space around Earth, particularly with the use of space stations. Human spaceflight programs include the Soyuz, Shenzhou, the past Apollo Moon landing and the Space Shuttle programs. Other current spaceflight are conducted to the International Space Station and to China's Tiangong Space Station.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule approaching the International Space Station in Earth orbit

Spaceflight is used for placing in Earth's orbit communications satellites, reconnaissance satellites, Earth observation satellites, but also for space exploration such as space observatories and space probes, or even for space tourism.

Spaceflight can be achieved with different types of launch systems, conventionally by rocket launching, which provide the initial thrust to overcome the force of gravity and propel a spacecraft from the surface of the Earth. Once in space, the motion of a spacecraft—both when unpropelled and when under propulsion—is covered by the area of study called astrodynamics.

Some spacecraft remain in space practically indefinitely, which has created the problem of space pollution in the form of light pollution and space junk, which is a hazard to spaceflight. Otherwise spacecraft are terminated by atmospheric reentry, in which they disintegrate, or if they do not, their reentry is mostly controlled to safely reach a surface by landing or impacting, often being dumped into the oceanic spacecraft cemetery. Spacecraft have thus been the subject of some space traffic management.

« Back to Glossary Index