The four main types of space exploration are as follows: flyby space missions, orbital space missions, rover space exploration, and human space exploration.
In this article, we will discuss each type of exploration, the space technologies they involve, the history behind them, and what our future space efforts might look like.
To infinity and beyond!
Flyby Space Exploration
Flyby missions involve either a manned spacecraft or an unmanned device recording information about the surface of a meteor, asteroid, comet, or other extraterrestrial body as it moves through space.
The spacecraft literally ‘flies-by’ the spatial structure that it wishes to observe and gathers information through photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, and other remote sensing.
This type of exploration is time-sensitive, as the spacecraft does not enter the object’s orbital sphere and therefore only has a limited amount of time in which it can record data.
For this reason, it is important that astronauts and space scientists calculate the time and distance of the closest approach accurately, so that they can get the optimum amount of data.
Orbital Space Exploration
Orbital space exploration involves a manned spacecraft entering orbit around a celestial body.
This includes both low Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO).
LEO orbits are those that lie between 200km and 2,000 km above the earth’s surface.
GEOs are those that sit at a fixed point on the equator of the earth. These are used for communications satellites and military purposes.
Orbital space exploration is used to monitor spaces and large celestial bodies over extended periods of time.
Suborbital flight occurs when a spacecraft is launched into outer space but gets caught in the earth’s gravitational field and does not reach escape velocity.
The International Space Station (ISS) is currently orbiting the earth at an altitude of 400km.
It was launched by Russia, Europe, and Japan in 1998.
It is made up of modules from these three countries, which have been joined together into one large laboratory.
There are also several smaller research modules attached to the ISS.
Rover Space Exploration
Space Rovers are vehicles that travel across the surface of another celestial body.
They are usually small, fast moving vehicles with wheels and treads.
Rovers are often used to gather samples of rocks, soil, ice, etc., which are then returned to Earth for analysis.
Rover missions tend to involve an unmanned device kitted out with advanced technology for recording, monitoring, and observing.
Rovers are useful for studying the environment of a celestial body, but they do not provide any direct information about its interior.
Their use depends on the availability of suitable landing sites, which may be difficult to find.
Human exploration is the process of exploring the surface of another celestial object using human beings.
Humans will go into space to explore planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies.
Humans are able to perform tasks such as constructing buildings or digging tunnels on the surface of a planet.
Human spaceflight has been a major part of space exploration since 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into outer space.
Since then there have been many more successful flights, including the Apollo moon landings, Soyuz launches, and the International Space Station.
Types Of Spacecraft
Exploration is done through different methods.
The most common method is rocket-powered vehicles, which include rockets, boosters, and missiles.
Rockets are very powerful engines that propel objects into space.
A booster is a rocket that carries a payload into space. For instance, the Saturn V rocket carried the Apollo lunar module into space.
A missile is a vehicle designed to carry a warhead into battle.
An interplanetary probe is a type of spacecraft that travels beyond our solar system.
The History Of Space Exploration
Space exploration began in ancient times.
Ancient people built pyramids and mounds and used them as landmarks that corresponded to certain star formations.
In modern times, we can see evidence of this in the form of Stonehenge.
Ancient people also studied the night sky and charted the astronomical movements to try to understand the universe we are part of.
In the 19th century, scientists were looking for ways to get around the problem of gravity.
This led to the development of lighter than air flying machines, such as balloons.
These were soon followed by rockets, which could take humans to the Moon.
In the 20th century, space exploration continued with the launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite.
After that, the United States developed the Mercury program, which sent astronauts to orbit the Earth.
The International Space Race
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, which was the first artificial satellite.
It was followed by a series of satellites called Project Dnepr, which included the first animal to fly in space, Laika.
In 1959, Yuri Gagarin became humanity’s first astronaut. He was launched aboard the Soviet Union’s Vostok 1 spacecraft.
His mission lasted just over 12 minutes.
The United States responded with their own series of projects, culminating in the Apollo program, which landed men on the Moon.
In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon. He did so during the Apollo 11 mission.
It took him approximately one hour to complete his task.
After the end of the Cold War, NASA and Russia worked together to build the International Space Station (ISS), which is now considered one of the greatest achievements of mankind.
The ISS has been continuously occupied ever since it was constructed, and continues to operate today.
The Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990. It is one of the most important telescopes ever made.
It can look at stars millions of light years away from us. It allows us to see what happened billions of years ago.
It can even show us how galaxies formed. It allows us to pursue our exploration of space without leaving planet earth!
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American astronomer who discovered that some nebulae (clouds) contain bright blue stars.
He also found out that these stars are moving away from each other. He called it “redshift”.
Hubble’s discovery showed that the Universe was expanding. This means that everything in the Universe is moving apart from each other.
Everything in the Universe is getting farther away from everything else.
Space Exploration Today
Today, space exploration is continuing at an amazing rate. We have seen unmanned probes send back information about the planets they visit.
We have seen robotic spacecraft explore Mars and other planets. There are plans to go to asteroids and even to other stars.
Today, space exploration continues with the International Space Station (ISS), which orbits the Earth.
It is manned by astronauts from all over the world.
The Commercialization Of Space
Now, we know there is more out there than just the moon and the stars.
We have found thousands of exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system.
We have learned how to use these exoplanets to study the nature of our galaxy.
We have discovered new elements and minerals. We have even found water on some of these exoplanets.
This has led to the commercialization of space.
Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Bigelow Aerospace, and others are developing technologies that will allow people to travel into space.
These companies are building rockets and capsules that will take humans beyond low-earth orbit.
They are also working on habitats that will be able to sustain humans while they are away from earth.
These companies hope to start sending humans on space flights as a way to make profit.
Human ingenuity, curiosity, creativity, and tenacity has meant that we have managed to explore outer space, our solar system, galaxy, and other galaxies in an incredibly exciting way.
However, there is still much more that we don’t know about space than we do know. The many mysteries of the universe are still far from being solved.
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