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Space Exploration

Course Description

In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go to space. In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon. This comprehensive course will examine the history and future of space travel. Find out how we have put people in space in the past, and what it will take for us to reach new frontiers, including Mars and beyond.

Unit 1: The Space Race

In this unit, we will discuss the early history of rockets. We will learn about the significance of the V2 rocket, the Cold War, and the creation of NASA. We will also discuss the Moon landing programs. Finally, this unit will look at the political developments that shaped the space program.

Unit 2: Launch and Landing Systems

This unit will discuss the mechanics of getting people and spacecraft into space, and back home safely. The specific resources required to launch and land spacecraft will be discussed. Rocket motors, launch facilities, orbital mechanics, and landing systems will be described at length. The physics of rocket propulsion will also be explained.

Unit 3: Spacecraft Systems – Part 1

In units 3 and 4 we will consider the different elements that have to come together to create a spacecraft which is capable of achieving its mission. We will examine power and communications systems and also consider how to protect a spacecraft against radiation. We will also review the measures necessary to ensure a spacecraft does not become too hot or too cold to operate.

Unit 4: Spacecraft Systems – Part 2

In Unit 4 we will look at the systems designed to keep astronauts alive and which ensure the spacecraft is maintained in the correct position. We will consider the effects of micro-gravity and the challenges to be overcome to enable astronauts to work outside of the spacecraft.

Unit 5: Manned Spaceflight

This unit considers the key manned spaceflight programs of the past 50 years. It addresses the technological developments made by each program and the part played by the astronauts who flew the spacecraft. There is also a review of the Chinese manned space program and its part in China’s wider space activities. By the end of the unit you will have an appreciation of the developments made by each program, their place in the development of manned spaceflight and the steps being taken by China to ensure it is a leading participant in manned spaceflight.

Unit 6: Unmanned Spaceflight

In Unit 6 we will consider some of the different purposes for which unmanned spacecraft have been launched and the benefits that they bring to modern life. By the end of the unit you will have an overview of the possible uses for spacecraft in Earth orbit and how they differ in their design. You will be able to explain the benefits they bring and the impact they have had on our day to day lives.

Unit 7: Low Earth Orbit

This unit considers current and future plans for manned spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit. In particular the use of space stations is reviewed especially the International Space Station. By the end of the unit students will have an appreciation of the benefits to be gained from the use of space stations and the technical issues to be addressed for their continued safe occupancy by astronauts.

Unit 8: Beyond Earth Orbit

This unit considers the potential explorations by man beyond Earth orbit and out into the solar system. It addresses the technology issues that need to be overcome and looks at the potential exploration missions. It also reviews the life support problems for astronauts on extended deep space flights. By the end of this unit, you will appreciate the challenges of manned deep space exploration and the strategies being followed to overcome them.

Course Details

  • Date January 24, 2013
  • Tags High School Electives, STEM
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