Astronomy Picture of the Day
APOD: 2004 December 12 - Atlantis to Orbit
Explanation: Birds don't fly this high. Airplanes don't go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of 2001 July 12. >From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.
APOD: 2001 May 25 - Saturn The Giant
Explanation: Forty years ago today (May 25, 1961) U.S. president John Kennedy announced the goal of landing Americans on the Moon by the end of the decade. Kennedy's ambitious speech triggered a nearly unprecedented peacetime technological mobilization and one result was the Saturn V moon rocket. Its development directed by rocket pioneer Wernher Von Braun, the three stage Saturn V stood over 36 stories tall. It had a cluster of five first stage engines fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene which together were capable of producing 7.5 million pounds of thrust. Giant Saturn V rockets ultimately hurled nine Apollo missions to the Moon and back again with six landing on the lunar surface. The first landing, by Apollo 11, occurred on July 20, 1969 achieving Kennedy's goal. Bathed in light, this Saturn V awaits an April 11, 1970 launch on the third lunar landing mission, Apollo 13.
APOD: 2001 March 16 - Rockets and Robert Goddard
Explanation: Robert H. Goddard, one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry, was born in Worcester Massachusetts in 1882. As a 16 year old, Goddard read H.G. Wells' science fiction classic "War Of The Worlds" and dreamed of space flight. By 1926 he had designed, built, and flown the world's first liquid fuel rocket. Launched 75 years ago today from his aunt Effie's farm in Auburn Massachusetts, the rocket, dubbed "Nell", rose to an altitude of 41 feet in a flight that lasted about 2 1/2 seconds. Pictured here Goddard stands next to the 10 foot tall rocket, holding the launch stand. To achieve a stable flight without the need for fins the rocket's heavy motor is located at the top, fed by lines from liquid oxygen and gasoline fuel tanks at the bottom. During his career Goddard was ridiculed by the press for suggesting that rockets could be flown to the Moon, but he kept up his experiments supported in part by the Smithsonian Institution and championed by Charles Lindbergh. Widely recognized as a gifted experimenter and engineering genius, his rockets were many years ahead of their time. Goddard was awarded over 200 patents in rocket technology, most of them after his death in 1945. A liquid fuel rocket constructed on principles developed by Goddard landed humans on the Moon in 1969.
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.