They may be common place in today’s society, but at the time of their advent, spacecraft completely changed the face of human accomplishment. These revolutionary flying machines expanded mankind’s scientific perception and literally took it to new heights, giving us access to new planets and regions of space previously though unreachable.
To better understand the sophisticated space ships of today, it is important to reflect on their origins within the aerospace industry. Here is a quick history of how these important aircraft came to be.
Following a series of theoretical and practical breakthroughs by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Robert H. Goddard, space flight officially became recognized as a possibility in human achievement. Goddard’s application of the de Laval nozzle to liquid fuel rockets, in particular, “gave sufficient power for interplanetary travel to become possible,” expanding on theories initially conceptualized by Tsiolkovsky in the early 1900s.
Goddard’s paper was titled “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes,” and it was initially criticized by the public after media outlets sensationalized its mentions of moon exploration (which were included near its end as merely an illustration of technological possibilities). Subsequent publications and discussions fueled a full-blown international discussion on potential space exploration, which soon led to the liquid-fueled flights that would serve as spacecrafts’ infancy.
Soon after, the “Space Race” began in 1957 as various nations worked to be the first to put a functional spacecraft into orbit. The Soviet Union initially took the lead in this post-war race, successfully launching the first satellite, man, and woman into orbit. However, the United States quickly caught up after it completed the first successful moon landing in 1969.
Today, advanced spacecraft continue to fuel our thirst for space knowledge. Over 50 International Space Station (ISS) expeditions have taken place since 2000 alone, with two more already planned for the first half of 2018.