Skylab included an Apollo Telescope Mount, which was a multi-spectral solar observatory. Numerous scientific experiments were conducted aboard Skylab during its operational life, and crews were able to confirm the existence of coronal holes in the Sun. The Earth Resources Experiment Package (EREP), was used to view the Earth with sensors that recorded data in the visible, infrared, and microwave spectral regions.
Manned rocketry[edit | edit source]
The Soyuz lifted off at 10:09 a.m. Baikonur time with astronaut Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Expedition 14 commander and NASA space station science officer; cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, Soyuz commander and flight engineer representing Russia's Federal Space Agency; and spaceflight participant Anousheh Ansari, who will spend nine days on the station under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Exploratory rocketry[edit | edit source]
Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972 by an Atlas-Centaur expendable vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Between July 15, 1972, and February 15, 1973, it became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt.
The International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft was originally known as the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite.
ISEE-3 was launched on August 12, 1978. It was inserted into a "halo" orbit about the libration point some 240 Earth radii upstream between the Earth and Sun. ISEE-3 was renamed ICE (International Cometary Explorer) when, after completing its original mission in 1982, it was gravitationally maneuvered to intercept the comet P/Giacobini-Zinner. On September 11, 1985, the veteran NASA spacecraft flew through the tail of the comet. The X-ray spectrometer aboard ISEE-3 was designed to study both solar flares and cosmic gamma-ray bursts over the energy range 5-228 keV.
The instruments aboard ISEE-3 are designed to detect
- protons in the energy range 150 eV - 7 keV and electrons in the 10 eV - 1 keV range (Solar wind plasma experiment),
- Low, Medium and High-Energy Cosmic Rays (1-500 MeV/n, Z = 1-28, electrons 2-10 MeV, for Medium Energy; H to Ni, 20-500 MeV/n for High-energy),
- H-Fe 30 MeV/n - 15 GeV/n and electrons 5-400 MeV for the Cosmic-Ray Energy Spectrum experiment,
- 17 Hz - 100 kHz magnetic and electric field wave levels (Plasma Waves Spectrum Analyzer),
- low-energy solar proton acceleration and propagation processes in interplanetary space, Energetic Particle Anisotropy Spectrometer (EPAS),
- 2 keV to > 1 MeV interplanetary and solar electrons,
- radio mapping of solar wind disturbances (type III bursts) in 3-D, 30 kHz - 2 MHz,
- solar wind ion composition, 300-600 km/s, 840 eV/Q to 11.7 keV/Q, M/Q = 1.5 to 5.6,
- cosmic ray isotope spectrometer 5-250 MeV/n, Z=3-28, A=6-64 (Li-Ni),
- ground based solar studies with the Stanford ground-based solar telescope, and the comparison of these measurements with measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field and solar wind made by other experiments on this spacecraft,
- X- and gamma-ray bursts, 5-228 keV, and
- Gamma-ray bursts, 0.05-6.5 MeV direction, profile, spectrum.
On November 17, 1998, Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer 10 as the most distant man-made object from Earth, at a distance of 69.419 AU (1.03849×1010 km). It is currently the most distant functioning space probe to receive commands and transmit information to Earth.
Rocky-object rocketry[edit | edit source]
The Apollo 11 mission [is] when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon on July 20, 1969 and walked on its surface while Michael Collins remained in [w:[lunar orbit|[lunar orbit]] in the command spacecraft, and all three landed safely on Earth on July 24. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six spaceflights, 12 men walked on the Moon.
The three-stage Saturn V was designed to send a fully fueled CSM and LM to the Moon. It was 33 feet (10.1 m) in diameter and stood 363 feet (110.6 m) tall with its 96,800-pound (43,900 kg) lunar payload. Its capability grew to 103,600 pounds (47,000 kg) for the later advanced lunar landings. The S-IC first stage burned RP-1/LOX for a rated thrust of 7,500,000 pounds-force (33,400 kN), which was upgraded to 7,610,000 pounds-force (33,900 kN). The second and third stages burned liquid hydrogen, and the third stage was a modified version of the S-IVB, with thrust increased to 230,000 lbf (1,020 kN) and capability to restart the engine for translunar injection after reaching a parking orbit.
Deep Impact is a NASA space probe launched on January 12, 2005. It was designed to study the composition of the comet interior of 9P/Tempel, by releasing an impactor into the comet. At 5:52 UTC on July 4, 2005, the impactor successfully collided with the comet's nucleus. The impact excavated debris from the interior of the nucleus, allowing photographs of the impact crater. The photographs showed the comet to be more dusty and less icy than had been expected. The impact generated a large and bright dust cloud, which unexpectedly obscured the view of the impact crater.
The Flyby spacecraft is about 3.2 meters (10.5 ft) long, 1.7 meters (5.6 ft) wide and 2.3 meters (7.5 ft) high. It includes two solar panels, a debris shield, and several science instruments for imaging, infrared spectroscopy, and optical navigation to its destination near the comet. The spacecraft also carried two cameras, the High Resolution Imager (HRI), and the Medium Resolution Imager (MRI). The HRI is an imaging device that combines a visible-light camera with a filter wheel, and an imaging infrared spectrometer called the "Spectral Imaging Module" or SIM that operates on a spectral band from 1.05 to 4.8 micrometres. It has been optimized for observing the comet's nucleus. The MRI is the backup device, and was used primarily for navigation during the final 10-day approach. It also has a filter wheel, with a slightly different set of filters.
Impact phase began nominally on June 29, five days before impact. The impactor successfully separated from the flyby spacecraft at 6:00 (6:07 Ground UTC) July 3 UTC. The first images from the instrumented Impactor were seen two hours after separation.
Cassini–Huygens is NASA-European Space Agency (ESA)-Italian Space Agency (ASI) robotic spacecraft sent to the Saturn system. It launched on October 15, 1997 on a Titan IVB/Centaur and entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. On December 25, 2004, Huygens separated from the orbiter at approximately 02:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It reached Saturn's moon Titan on January 14, 2005, when it entered Titan's atmosphere and descended downward to the surface. It successfully returned data to Earth, using the orbiter as a relay.
Cassini's instrumentation consists of: a synthetic aperture radar mapper, a charge-coupled device imaging system, a visible/infrared mapping spectrometer, a composite infrared spectrometer, a cosmic dust analyzer, a radio and plasma wave experiment, a plasma spectrometer, an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, a magnetospheric imaging instrument, a magnetometer and an ion/neutral mass spectrometer.
Cassini released the Huygens probe on December 25, 2004, by means of a spring and spiral rails intended to rotate the probe for greater stability. It entered the atmosphere of Titan on January 14, 2005, and after a two-and-a-half-hour descent landed on solid ground. Although Cassini successfully relayed 350 of the pictures that it received from Huygens of its descent and landing site, a software error failed to turn on one of the Cassini receivers and caused the loss of the other 350 pictures.
Heliocentric rocketry[edit | edit source]
The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) is an infrared space observatory launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on a Delta II 7920H ELV rocket, Monday, 25 August 2003 at 13:35:39 UTC-5 (EDT).
Cryogenic satellites that require liquid helium (LHe, T ≈ 4 K) temperatures in near-Earth orbit are typically exposed to a large heat load from the Earth, and consequently entail large usage of LHe coolant, which then tends to dominate the total payload mass and limits mission life. Placing the satellite in solar orbit far from Earth allowed innovative passive cooling such as the sun shield, against the single remaining major heat source to drastically reduce the total mass of helium needed, resulting in an overall smaller lighter payload, with major cost savings. This orbit also simplifies telescope pointing, but does require the Deep Space Network for communications.
"An Earth Trailing Solar Orbit (ETSO)" causes Spitzer "to drift from Earth at a rate of about 0.1 AU per year."
The figure at right shows the Earth-trailing solar orbit (ETSO) for Spitzer with the Earth at the origin and the Sun at left in the rotating coordinate frame "for an 8/25/03 launch projected onto the Ecliptic plane during the 62-month mission lifetime".
Ulysses is a robotic space probe designed to study the Sun as a joint venture of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). To obtain an Out-Of-The-Ecliptic (OOE) heliocentric orbit Ulysses swung by Jupiter. Between 1994 and 1995 it explored both the southern (June - October 1994) and northern (June - September 1995) solar polar regions. Between 2000 and 2001 it explored the southern solar polar regions, which gave many unexpected results. In particular the southern magnetic pole was found to be much more dynamic than the north pole and without any fixed clear location. It operates over the Sun's poles for the third and last time in 2007 and 2008. "After it became clear that the power output from the spacecraft's RTG would be insufficient to operate science instruments and keep the attitude control fuel, hydrazine, from freezing, instrument power sharing was initiated. Up until then, the most important instruments had been kept online constantly, whilst others were deactivated. When the probe neared the Sun, its power-hungry heaters were turned off and all instruments were turned on.
Helios 1 and Helios 2 are a pair of probes launched into heliocentric orbit for the purpose of studying solar processes. ... The probes are notable for having set a maximum speed record among spacecraft at 252,792 km/h (157,078 mi/h or 43.63 mi/s or 70.22 km/s or 0.000234c). Helios 2 flew three million kilometers closer to the Sun than Helios 1, achieving perihelion on 17 April 1976 at a record distance of 0.29 AU (or 43.432 million kilometers), slightly inside the orbit of Mercury. Helios 2 was sent into orbit 13 months after the launch of Helios 1. The probes are no longer functional but still remain in their elliptical orbit around the Sun." On board, each probe carried an instrument for cosmic radiation investigation (the CRI) for measuring protons, electrons, and X-rays "to determine the distribution of cosmic rays.
Sun-synchronous orbital rocketry[edit | edit source]
A Sun-synchronous orbit (sometimes called a heliosynchronous orbit) is a geocentric orbit which combines altitude and inclination in such a way that an object on that orbit ascends or descends over any given Earth latitude at the same local mean solar time. The surface illumination angle will be nearly the same every time. This consistent lighting is a useful characteristic for satellites that image the Earth's surface in visible or infrared wavelengths (e.g. weather and spy satellites) and for other remote sensing satellites (e.g. those carrying ocean and atmospheric remote sensing instruments that require sunlight). For example, a satellite in sun-synchronous orbit might ascend across the equator twelve times a day each time at approximately 15:00 mean local time. This is achieved by having the osculating orbital plane precess (rotate) approximately one degree each day with respect to the celestial sphere, eastward, to keep pace with the Earth's movement around the Sun.
The uniformity of Sun angle is achieved by tuning the inclination to the altitude of the orbit such that the extra mass near the equator causes the orbital plane of the spacecraft to precess with the desired rate: the plane of the orbit is not fixed in space relative to the distant stars, but rotates slowly about the Earth's axis. Typical sun-synchronous orbits are about 600–800 km in altitude, with periods in the 96–100 minute range, and inclinations of around 98° (i.e. slightly retrograde compared to the direction of Earth's rotation: 0° represents an equatorial orbit and 90° represents a polar orbit).
ERS-1 carried an array of earth-observation instruments that gathered information about the Earth (land, water, ice and atmosphere) using a variety of measurement principles. These included:
- RA (Radar Altimeter) is a single frequency nadir-pointing radar altimeter operating in the Ku band.
- ATSR-1 (Along-Track Scanning Radiometer) is a 4 channel infrared radiometer and microwave sounder for measuring temperatures at the sea-surface and the top of clouds.
- SAR (synthetic aperture radar) operating in C band can detect changes in surface heights with sub-millimeter precision.
- Wind Scatterometer used to calculate information on wind speed and direction.
- MWR is a Microwave Radiometer used in measuring atmospheric water, as well as providing a correction for the atmospheric water for the altimeter.
To accurately determine its orbit, the satellite included a Laser Retroreflector. The Retroreflector was used for calibrating the Radar Altimeter to within 10 cm.
Its successor, ERS-2, was launched on April 21, 1995, on an Ariane 4, from ESA's Guiana Space Centre near Kourou, French Guiana. Largely identical to ERS-1, it added additional instruments and included improvements to existing instruments including:
- GOME (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment) is a nadir scanning ultraviolet and visible spectrometer.
- ATSR-2 included 3 visible spectrum bands specialized for Chlorophyll and Vegetation
The second image down on the left is a night launch of ESSA 9 aboard a Delta E1 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch occurred at 07:47 UTC (02:47 EDT) on February 26, 1969. The spacecraft was placed in a sun-synchronous orbit of 101.4° inclination. Immediately after launch ESSA-9 had a perigee of 1,427.0 kilometers (886.7 mi) and an apogee of 1,508.0 kilometers (937.0 mi), giving it an orbital period of 115.2 minutes, or a mean motion of 12.5 orbits per day. ESSA-9 operated for 1,726 days before it was deactivated in November 1972.
Orbital rocketry[edit | edit source]
With the advent of lofting technology comes the possibility of placing an observatory as a free floating yet when necessary either a geostationary, rotating, or fixed form in orbit. The TRACE spacecraft imaged at above right is in its cleanroom during assembly prior to launch.
The Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is launched at top left atop an ATLAS-IIAS expendable launch vehicle. The early Atlas is a development (an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, ICBM) for defense as part of the mutual assured destruction (MAD) effort which helped to end the Cold War.
Lofting an observing system into an orbit around the Earth requires designing and testing for survival of the rocket trip upward and the orbiting technique (usually a second stage for orbital insertion). At left is an early X-ray observatory (Solrad 3), the spherical silver ball with antenna, atop a stack of satellites, being fitted with a nose cone to reduce atmospheric drag and to protect the satellites.
Once the satellite stack for Solrad 3 is securely aboard the second stage, the lofting rocket is fueled (when liquid fuel is used), and the launch commences. At right is the Thor Able Star rocket being launched by the US Air Force from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
Solrad 3 is operated by the US Naval Research Laboratory beginning with its launch on June 29, 1961, through to the end of its mission on March 6, 1963. Although Solrad 3 did not successfully separate from the satellite immediately below it in the stack (Injun 1), it successfully returned solar X-ray data until late in 1961. It is not expected to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere for ~900 years.
Explorer 11 (also known as S15) was an American Earth-orbital satellite that carried the first space-borne gamma-ray telescope. This was the earliest beginning of space gamma-ray astronomy. Launched on April 27, 1961 by a Juno II rocket the satellite returned data until November 17, when power supply problems ended the science mission. During the spacecraft's seven month lifespan it detected twenty-two events from gamma-rays and approximately 22,000 events from cosmic radiation.
Military rocketry[edit | edit source]
There have been 172 successful test flights of the Trident II (D5) missile since design completion in 1989, the most recent being from the USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740) in May 2019. There have been fewer than 10 test flights that were failures,
Sounding rockets[edit | edit source]
Additional technology used to benefit astronomy includes sounding rockets which may carry gamma-ray, X-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared detectors to high altitude to view individual sources and the background for each wavelength band observed.
In 1927, E.O. Hulburt of the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and associates Gregory Breit and Merle Tuve of the Carnegie Institution of Washington considered the possibility of equipping Robert H. Goddard's rockets to explore the upper atmosphere. "Two years later, he proposed an experimental program in which a rocket might be instrumented to explore the upper atmosphere, including detection of ultraviolet radiation and X-rays at high altitudes."
Sounding in the rocket context is equivalent to taking a measurement.
The rockets are used to carry instruments from 50 to 1,500 kilometres (31 to 932 mi) above the surface of the Earth, the altitude generally between weather balloons and satellites (the maximum altitude for balloons is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) and the minimum for satellites is approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi)). Certain sounding rockets, such as the Black Brant X and XII, have an apogee between 1,000 and 1,500 kilometres (620 and 930 mi); the maximum apogee of their class. ... NASA routinely flies the Terrier Mk 70 boosted Improved Orion lifting 270–450 kilograms (600–990 lb) payloads into the exoatmospheric region between 100 and 200 kilometres (62 and 124 mi).
A common sounding rocket consists of a solid-fuel rocket motor and a science payload. The freefall part of the flight is an elliptic trajectory with vertical major axis allowing the payload to appear to hover near its apogee. The average flight time is less than 30 minutes, usually between five and 20 minutes. The rocket consumes its fuel on the first stage of the rising part of the flight, then separates and falls away, leaving the payload to complete the arc and return to the ground under a parachute.
Sounding rockets are advantageous for some research due to their low cost, short lead time (sometimes less than six months) and their ability to conduct research in areas inaccessible to either balloons or satellites. They are also used as test beds for equipment that will be used in more expensive and risky orbital spaceflight missions. The smaller size of a sounding rocket also makes launching from temporary sites possible allowing for field studies at remote locations, even in the middle of the ocean, if fired from a ship.
The Vertikal sounding rocket is one of many sounding rockets used by Russia and formerly by the Soviet Union, in addition to satellites, as part of an extensive solar ultraviolet and X-ray astronomy research effort. Vertikal 1 carried a Polish instrument for X-ray examinations of the Sun. Vertikal 1 and 2 studied solar radiation in the wavelength range 0.1 nm to 150.0 nm with regard to X-ray emission of the quiet Sun and solar X-ray bursts.
Terrier-Sandhawks[edit | edit source]
The Terrier-Sandhawk at right was flown from the Kauai Test Facility from Pad 12 on May 14, 1976, as an X-ray experiment.
Aerobees[edit | edit source]
"Development of the Aerobee liquid-propellant sounding rocket was begun in 1946 by the Aerojet Engineering Corporation (later Aerojet-General Corporation) under contract to the U.S. Navy. The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of Johns Hopkins University was assigned technical direction of the project. James A. Van Allen, then Director of the project at APL, proposed the name "Aerobee." He took the "Aero" from Aerojet Engineering and the "bee" from Bumblebee, the name of the overall project to develop naval rockets1 that APL was monitoring for the Navy. The 18-kilonewton-thrust, two-stage Aerobee was designed to carry a 68-kilogram payload to a 130-kilometer altitude."
"In 1952, at the request of the Air Force and the Navy, Aerojet undertook design and development of the Aerobee-Hi, a high-performance version of the Aerobee designed expressly for research in the upper atmosphere.2 An improved Aerobee-Hi became the Aerobee 150 [imaged on the right at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.]"
An Aerobee 170, second image down on the left, had a nominal altitude of 240 km. The Aerobee 170A had four fins (A) versus three without the A designation.
An "Aerobee 350 [on the left was] launched on its first full flight test, 18 June 1965."
Apaches[edit | edit source]
"The Apache solid-propellant rocket stage was used with the Nike first stage. Identical in appearance to the Nike-Cajun, the Nike-Apache could reach higher altitudes because the Apache propellant burning time was longer (6.4 seconds versus Cajun's 4 seconds). It could carry 34-kilogram payloads to an operating altitude of 210 kilometers or 100 kilograms to 125 kilometers."
The former USS Croatan [center image below] was used as a mobile range facility for launching sounding rockets like the Nike-Apache [image on the left].
Arcas[edit | edit source]
"The name was an acronym for "All-purpose Rocket for Collecting Atmospheric Soundings."1 It was intentional that the first three letters, "A-R-C," also were the initials of the Atlantic Research Corporation.2 An inexpensive vehicle designed specifically for meteorological research, Arcas could carry a five-kilogram payload to an altitude of 64 kilometers.3 Later versions were the Boosted Arcas, Boosted Arcas II, and Super Arcas, all of which NASA used."
Aries[edit | edit source]
"NASA in 1974 was working with the Naval Research Laboratory, Sandia Laboratories, and West Germany to develop a new sounding rocket, the Aries, using surplus second stages from the Department of Defense Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles. The rocket, which had flown three test flights by December 1974, would lift larger payloads for longer flight times than other rockets-in astronomy, physics, and space processing research projects."
"The Aries [had a] greater volume for carrying [experimental] instruments than provided by the Aerobee 350 sounding rocket and [carried] 180- to 900-kilogram scientific payloads to altitudes that would permit 11 to 7 minutes viewing time above 91 440 meters, appreciably longer than the viewing time of the Aerobee 350 and the Black Brant VC."
"The first test flights had carried 817 kilograms to 270.7 and 299 kilometers."
Aries gave "11 to 8 minutes in weightless conditions for materials-processing-experiment payloads of 45 to 454 kilograms."
Asps[edit | edit source]
In addition to land-based surface launches of sounding rockets for X-ray detection, occasionally ocean surface ships served as stable platforms. The USS Point Defiance (LSD-31) is one of the first rocket-launching surface ships to support the 1958 IGY Solar Eclipse Expedition to the Danger Island region of the South Pacific. Launchers on deck fired eight Nike-Asp sounding rockets. Each rocket carried an X-ray detector to record X-ray emission from the Sun during the solar eclipse on October 12, 1958.
Astrobees[edit | edit source]
"The uprated Aerobee 150 was named "Astrobee.""
An "Astrobee 1500 [such as imaged on the right had] its first flight test, 21 October 1964."
The Astrobee 1500 had a nominal altitude of 2200 km.
Black brants[edit | edit source]
"The Black Brant series of sounding rockets was developed by Bristol Aerospace Ltd. of Canada with the Canadian government. The first rocket was launched in 1939. By the end of 1974 close to 300 Black Brants had been launched and vehicles were in inventories of research agencies in Canada, Europe, and the United States, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and NASA."
"The Canadian government kept the name with the addition of numbers (I through VI by 1974) for different members of the series-rather than giving a code name to each version-to emphasize that they were sounding rockets rather than weapons."
"The Black Brant IVA used a modified upper stage and a more powerful engine than previous models, to boost it to 900 kilometers. The Black Brant V series consisted of three 43-centimeter-diameter sounding rockets with all components interchangeable."
"The Black Brant VA (or "BBVA") used stabilizer components with the BBII's engine and carried 136-kilogram payloads to 160 kilometers, to fill a need for that altitude range. The BBVB, using an engine giving rocket performance double that of the BBII, was designed to meet requirements for scientific investigations above 320-kilometer altitude."
"The Black Brant VC [image at top left] was used by NASA to support the 1973-1974 Skylab Orbital Workshop missions by evaluating and calibrating Workshop instruments. The three-fin solid-fueled Black Brant VB was converted to a four-fin model suitable for launching from White Sands Missile Range and permitting recovery of the rocket payloads. The changes decreased performance somewhat but increased stability and allowed greater variations in payload length and weight on the VC. NASA launched the Black Brant VC on two flights during each of the three manned missions to the Skylab Workshop."
"In 1967, Bristol of Canada received a U.S. Army development contract for a pair of small meteorological sounding rockets. The larger one became the Black Brant VI [image second down on the left], while the smaller one was the Black Brant VII. The U.S. Army nomenclature for the BB VI was Weather Rocket, RDT&E, XM75. The BB VI's solid-propellant motor had a high initial thrust which gradually dropped until burnout. The four tail fins were canted to induce a stabilizing spin. At an apogee of about 75 km (47 miles), the nose cone was ejected, and a parachute opened under which the meteorological instrument package descended to the ground."
"The Black Brant 9 rocket took about four minutes to lift the experiment to an altitude of 131 miles. Less than a minute later it was released from its cover and started inflating on schedule at 124 miles up. The inflation of the shield took less than 90 seconds."
Goddard rockets[edit | edit source]
Robert H. Goddard first "shot a scientific payload (barometer and camera) in a rocket flight (1929, Auburn, Massachusetts)".
The image on the left is from 8 March 1926 and shows Robert H. Goddard and a liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket.
Hawks[edit | edit source]
"NASA was developing a low-cost sounding rocket in 1974-1975 using surplus motors from the Army's Hawk antiaircraft missiles. The research rocket inherited the Army's name, an acronym for "Homing All the Way Killer," although the new uses would be far removed from the purposes of the weapon system."
"To be flown as a single-stage Hawk or in two-stage combination as the Nike-Hawk, for a variety of research projects, the 35.6-centimeter-diameter rocket would provide a large volume for payloads. Both stages of the Nike-Hawk would use surplus Army equipment (see also Nike). Development testing was proceeding under Wallops Flight Center management. By December 1974, two flight tests of the single-stage Hawk sounding rocket had been launched, the first one lifting off successfully 29 May 1974. The first flight test of the Nike-Hawk was planned for mid-1975."
"The single-stage Hawk could carry a 45-kilogram payload to an 80-kilometer altitude or 90 kilograms to 57 kilometers. Engineers were working toward a performance capability of 45 kilograms to 210 kilometers or 90 kilograms to 160 kilometers for the Nike-Hawk."
Jasons[edit | edit source]
"The name of a series of sounding rockets, "Argo" was from the name of Jason's ship in the ancient Greek myth of Jason's travels in search of the Golden Fleece. The first sounding rocket in this series, developed by the Aerolab Company (later a division of Atlantic Research Corporation), was called "Jason.""
Javelins[edit | edit source]
"Argo D-4 (Javelin) was designed to carry 40- to 70-kilogram payloads to 800- to 11OO-kilometer altitudes."
Journeymans[edit | edit source]
"Argo D-8 (Journeyman) could carry 20- to 70-kilogram payloads to 1500- to 2100-kilometer altitudes."
Skylark[edit | edit source]
In the southern hemisphere at Woomera, South Australia, another X-ray observing location uses a famous and probably the most successful sounding rocket, the Skylark, to place X-ray detectors at suborbital altitudes. "[T]he first X-ray surveys of the sky in the Southern Hemisphere" are accomplished by Skylark launches.
V 2s[edit | edit source]
Observatories on the Earth's surface do not seem like a useful place to conduct X-ray astronomy observations in view of the inability of X-rays to reach even the peaks of the highest mountains. From the earliest speculations about detecting X-rays above the Earth's atmosphere, the need to use an appropriate probe suggested a high altitude sounding rocket. The ending of World War II presented an opportunity to use a ballistic missile for just such a purpose. The White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, at the time an army base, is the first location on land to test the concept. The image at the right shows the V-2 launch complex prior to the launch of V-2 number 6.
The first successful attempt to detect X-rays above the Earth's surface occurred at White Sands Proving Grounds on August 5, 1948, by lofting an X-ray detector with a V-2 rocket.
As with visual or optical astronomy observatories, there is a tendency to place them away from population centers. The photograph at right of the January 18, 1951, V-2 launch indicates one reason for doing so with X-ray observing. Rockets lofted upwards tend to return.
The beginning of the search for X-ray sources above the Earth's atmosphere is August 5, 1948, at 12:07 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). As part of Project Hermes a US Army (formerly German) V-2 rocket number 43 is launched from White Sands Proving Grounds, launch complex (LC) 33, to an altitude of 166 km. This is "the first detection of solar X-rays." After detecting X-ray photons from the Sun in the course of the rocket flight, T.R. Burnight wrote, “The sun is assumed to be the source of this radiation although radiation of wave-length shorter than 4 angstroms would not be expected from theoretical estimates of black body radiation from the solar corona.”
Aircraft assisted launches[edit | edit source]
Like many X-series aircraft, the X-15 was designed to be carried aloft and drop launched from under the wing of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress mother ship: Air Force NB-52A, "The High and Mighty One" (serial 52-0003), and NB-52B, "The Challenger" (serial 52-0008, a.k.a. Balls 8) served as carrier planes for all X-15 flights. Release of the X-15 from NB-52A took place at an altitude of about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) and a speed of about 500 miles per hour (805 km/h). The X-15 fuselage was long and cylindrical, with rear fairings that flattened its appearance, and thick, dorsal and ventral wedge-fin stabilizers. Parts of the fuselage (the outer skin) were heat-resistant nickel alloy (Inconel-X 750).
Bell X-1[edit | edit source]
The Bell X-1A, having greater fuel capacity and hence longer rocket burning time, exceeded 1,600 miles per hour (2,600 km/h; 1,400 kn) in 1954.
Cruise missiles[edit | edit source]
After the successful development of the intercontinental ballistic missile (a pilotless rocket), the Snark and its kindred are replaced by the ~1,000 km ranged cruise missile.
Heinkel He 176[edit | edit source]
Only two true pictures of the He 176 have survived which were probably taken in Peenemünde during tests.
The Heinkel He 176 was the world's first aircraft to be propelled solely by a liquid-propellant rocket engine. It performed its first powered flight on 20 June 1939 with Erich Warsitz at the controls..
Hound Dog[edit | edit source]
The Hound Dog missile's airframe was an adaptation of technology developed in the SM-64 Navaho missile, adapted for launching from the B-52. The Hound Dog's design was based on that of the Navaho G-38 missile, which featured small delta wings and forward canards.
Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet[edit | edit source]
The Ente was the world’s first full-sized rocket-powered aircraft, designed by Alexander Lippisch as a sailplane and first flown under power on June 11, 1928, piloted by Fritz Stamer as part of the Opel-RAK rocket program led by Fritz von Opel and Max Valier. During the following year, the Opel RAK.1 became the first purpose-built rocket plane to fly.
The first rocket plane ever to be mass-produced was the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet interceptor, introduced by Germany towards the final years of the conflict as one of several efforts to develop effective rocket-powered aircraft.
Pegasus[edit | edit source]
The Pegasus is carried aloft below a carrier aircraft and launched at approximately 40,000 ft (12,000 m). The carrier aircraft provides flexibility to launch the rocket from anywhere rather than just a fixed pad. A high-altitude, winged flight launch also allows the rocket to avoid flight in the densest part of the atmosphere where a larger launch vehicle, carrying much more fuel, would be needed to overcome air friction and gravity.
The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) is an orbiting ultraviolet space telescope launched on April 28, 2003 [at 12:00 UTC]. A Pegasus rocket placed the craft into a nearly circular orbit at an altitude of 697 kilometres (433 mi) and an inclination to the Earth's equator of 29 degrees.
The Array of Low Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors (ALEXIS) X-ray telescopes feature curved mirrors whose multilayer coatings reflect and focus low-energy X-rays or extreme ultraviolet light the way optical telescopes focus visible light. ... The Launch was provided by the United States Air Force Space Test Program on a Pegasus Booster on April 25, 1993.
Snark[edit | edit source]
A culmination of the flying bomb effort is the SM-62 Snark shown in flight at right which is "an early-model intercontinental cruise missile that could carry a W39 thermonuclear warhead. The Snark has an operational range of 10,200 km.
V 1s[edit | edit source]
The V-1 flying bomb the Fieseler Fi 103 is an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile. In late 1936, Argus Motoren company had already developed a remote-controlled surveillance aircraft, the [Argus As 292] AS 292 (military designation FZG 43).
X-2s[edit | edit source]
The Bell Aircraft Company X-2 (46-674) drops away from its Boeing B-50 mothership in this photo. Lt. Col. Frank "Pete" Everest piloted 674 on its first unpowered flight on August 5 1954. He made the first rocket-powered flight on November 18, 1955. Everest made the first supersonic X-2 flight in 674 on April 25, 1956, achieving a speed of Mach 1.40. In July, he reached Mach 2.87, just short of the Mach 3 goal.
X-7s[edit | edit source]
The engines developed for the X-7/AQM-60 were only designed to operate for a short time, to test the design for the CIM-10 Bomarc, but they were redesigned with better materials in order to be used on the hypersonic Lockheed D-21 drone fired off the back of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, or from under the wing of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
X-15s[edit | edit source]
Manned spaceflight on an individual basis has only been achieved with experimental aircraft such as the X-15. An airborne observatory is an airplane or balloon with an astronomical telescope. By carrying the telescope high, the telescope can avoid cloud cover, pollution, and carry out observations in the infrared spectrum, above water vapor in the atmosphere which absorbs infrared radiation.
Hypotheses[edit | edit source]
- Being repelled by the Earth is a lofting technology.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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