Space Age

Space Exploration
A painfully brief overview in uncommon
by Eugene V. Bobukh
Intro note
Initially, it was a presentation for a party on the 50 years of
the first manned spaceflight (Gagarin, 04/12/1961)
139 slides, 5+ hours and good time for 40+ attendees
Now I’m asked to put all that in 1 hour,
minus Q&A
I tried compressing, but each
time it ended up like this…
So eventually I came to the
only option --
-- and I had to be pretty
serious about that.
So in this presentation you will NOT
learn anything about…
If interested, go to EugeneBo’s
blog at
Instead, only a brief set of facts
that I personally
-- (probably even without any good reason) -consider important, amazing, or just funny
will be presented
“Prehistoric” times. The first…
• Documented (?) successful (??) human flight propelled
with rockets: Lagari Hasan Çelebi, Ottoman Turkey,
• “Space” sci-fi: Somnium by Johannes Kepler, ~1630,
• ~1860-1960: Burst of sci-fi describing interplanetary,
interstellar and even intergalactic flight
• Detailed research on using rockets for space travel:
1903, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russia
• Liquid fuel rocket: Robert Goddard, USA, 1926
• Ballistic missile that reached space: Germany, V-2,
1957. Korolev. Sputnik.
The plan called for a
heavy scientific
laboratory, later known
as Sputnik 3 (1958).
Time pressure, political
pressure, production
delays => the worldfamous simple sphere.
The R-7 rocket used is
still in service after
some modifications
(known as Soyuz
1958. First nuclear tests in space.
Both USA and USSR.
The image in the left is
Hardtack-Orange 3.8 Mt at
43 km altitude (so it’s still
somewhat atmospheric).
The first test over 100 km
(Argus, 200 km) done in
1958, too.
Banned and stopped in 1962.
Most of space exploration is a
side product, a debris left
after feeding the *military*
interests first 
The price of peace: Project Orion
Spaceship driven by nuclear explosions.
Yes this is possible.
Earth to LRO fallout: 0.1-10 Mt.
Saturn manned roundtrip: 1 year in 1970s.
Alpha Centauri: ~80 years in 1980s.
Proposed: 1946.
Incepted: 1958. Serious design and work.
Killed: 1963 by Partial Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty and other political issues.
After Chernobyl and Fukushima, don’t even
propose that aloud anymore…
1959. The far side of the Moon.
Luna 3, USSR. The first
interplanetary probe.
Radiation-resistant film was
obtained from a shot down
American spy balloon 
A French winemaker who
bet that nobody would
ever see the far side of the
Moon sent 1000 bottles of
champagne to the team
for 1959/1960 New Year
eve 
1960. Nedelin disaster.
R-16 rocket exploded on
the launch pad.
78 (some say 120)
perished in a toxic blaze,
including Nedelin himself.
The worst Soviet space
Cause: gross negligence
to all safety procedures in
an attempt to launch on
the stated time.
1960. “There is no life on Earth” 
First attempt to launch a probe to Mars.
Checks at the launch pad revealed that
the probe was over the weight limit.
Something had to be cut. Korolev
ordered an overnight test run of all
scientific equipment in the steppe
One device designed to detect the signs
of life reported negative  and stayed
on Earth.
It survived the launch failure later known
as “Mars 1960A”.
(Per Boris Chertok’s memories).
1965. Mars revealed!
First ever close-ups of Mars by a robotic
flyby probe, Mariner-4.
No “channels”, but Moon-like cratered
terrain and very thin atmosphere reveled.
A great blow to last hopes of finding
intelligent life on Mars (yes, many were
serious until ~60s!)
The total of data returned: 634 Kb, that
including 22 pictures 
Crayons were used to produce first color
“prints” of Mars 
1965. First spacewalk.
Alexei Leonov from Voskhod 2
spaceship, commanded by the
2nd crew member Pavel Belyaev.
Inflatable airlock.
The 12 minute spacewalk nearly
avoided a disaster after
Leonov’s spacesuit ballooned in
Can you make a U-turn in a
8’x3.7’ airlock, while dressed
up in a spacesuit?
1965. First space smuggling.
John Young secretly smuggled a
corned beef sandwich onboard
Gemini 3, where the crew
attempted to eat it.
The crumbles in zero-g have
caused serious concern.
Young flew a total of 6 space
missions between 1965 and
1983 on 4 types of spacecraft,
including two maiden flights
(Gemini and Space Shuttle). He’s
been near the Moon twice and
on the Moon – once.
That’s if you ask me what a real
career should look like 
1966. Luna-9 lands on the Moon.
First ever landing on another
planetary body and pictures from
Transmission intercepted at Jodrell
Bank Observatory and published
by Daily Express before the official
Soviet news release.
20 days earlier, Korolev died.
Parachute system failure and crash upon return,
killing Vladimir Komarov.
The flight, prepared in unimaginable hurry,
was plagued with technical problems and had
to be cut short.
Apollo 1. “A fire in the cockpit!”
A cabin fire during a launch pad test on January
27 killed all three crew members: Virgil "Gus"
Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee.
In pure oxygen, the extreme blaze was over in just
17 seconds.
1971. First space station in orbit.
Salyut 1, a space station capable of hosting 3
people for several months.
Dobrovolski, Volkov, Patsaev docked the station
in June 1971 on Soyuz 11 and worked there
for 23 days.
While returning to Earth, they all died after
Soyuz 11 decompression. They had no
1971. First Mars landing.
Mars 3 has landed in
1971 but worked for 15
seconds only, returning no
scientific data.
The picture returned
contains no information.
The Lander had a small
rover which was also lost.
This remains a mystery.
Using recent high
resolution satellite images
of Mars, enthusiasts keep
searching for clues…
1972. The last Men on the Moon.
Apollo 17.
Back then, almost nobody
believed that we are not
coming back to the Moon in
the 20th century.
The takeoff video:
Why did not USSR go to the Moon?
It tried
• Late start (~1963).
• Short budgets
• Glushko vs. Korolev
disagreement over fuel
• Kuznetsov’s engines:
the greatest T/M ratio
ever achieved, but the
N1 rocket needed 30
of them!
• Korolev’s death in
• Poor organization
• Secrecy
1972. N1 rocket. “Мы стреляем городами...”
(“we are shooting with cities…”)
Soviet lunar rocket similar in power to American
Saturn V.
Four test launches between 1969 and 1972.
Each ending with a crash.
But… USSR could. It was close. The capability
was there!
1978. Salyut-6 EO-1. Grechko’s cognac.
I did not promise it would be all in English 
История об элеутерококке, рассказанная Г.M. Гречко.
Г. ГРЕЧКО: Коньяк я не проносил. Он выплыл из отделения со спортивным бельем. Там было написано
"Элеутерококк К". Я сначала по простоте душевной стал спрашивать, что это за " Элеутерококк ". Мне так
с улыбкой сказали – концентрированный. Но насчет пил. Это неправильно. Скорее лизал. Вот смотрите. С
одной стороны на двоих было полтора литра. Можно упиться. А с другой стороны, 100, если кругло дней,
два человека. На 200 человеко-дней. 7,5 грамм коньяка в сутки <…> ни на какую операторскую
деятельность это не действовало.
<…> Он пился, лизался, еще раз подчеркиваю, 7,5 грамм это столовая ложка. Значит, пока эта фляжка из
нержавейки, ее можно было вот так вот сжимать, она выдавала этот коньяк. Но потом там же и жидкость
и воздух одинаково ничего не весят. Поэтому они смешиваются. И там образуется пена. А пену уже никак
не выдавишь. И как мы ни старались вытащить <…> Не удалось. Мы бросили эту фляжку. А следующий
экипаж сказал: а мы допили. Мы говорили: да невозможно. Мы все пробовали. Как помните, мартышка
и очки. Мы пробовали все. Ну, а они говорят, что, а мы делали очень просто. Один поднимался под
потолок станции, а другой бил его по голове. Горлышко от фляжки во рту. И по инерции коньяк идет в
рот, потому что нет веса в космосе, а инерция есть. И они нас справедливо нас так немножко обидели.
Сказали, что вот видите, кроме высшего образования, надо иметь хотя бы среднее соображение.
OK, the translation of previous slide
(multiple accounts exist; details vary)
Yuri Romanenko and Georgi Grechko discovered a flask of cognac onboard Salyut6. Fifty ounces, but… for 96 days and 2 people. So they responsibly split it into
0.25 oz/day portions for taste enjoyment rather than anything else.
– No way you can get drunk with that 
Problem: cognac does not pour out in zero g!
Solution? Squeeze the flask. Yes, it’s made of steel, but cosmonauts are strong 
Issue: half and half of cognac and air make foam which resists further squeezing 
So they left half-empty flask onboard and returned to Earth.
The next expedition arrived to the station, worked there, returned home and said
“thank you!” for cognac. A dialog followed:
“Did you finish it?”
“But how?...”
“Well, on top of higher education you’ve got to have some common imagination. One grasps the
flask with his teeth… and another gently slaps the back of his head ”
Physics rules!
1979-1980. Soyuz 32 & Salyut 6.
This is another practical joke in space, by Vladimir Lyakhov and
• Valery
Ryumin who secretly brought a fake orange and a
• cucumber
на станцию,
и Рюмин
to Salyut
6 space
station. Then,
в карманах
на орбиту
the cucumber
to the scientists
on Earth,
- огурец
И в первом
it to be the
“crop” и
the hydroponic
репортаже показали "Земле" этот огурец, якобы
выросший в станционной оранжерее. Ботаники
с ума:
до этого
даже завязи
scientists went
as no previous
were able
здесь at
его неas
all; their
only increased
начали думать,
его срочно
crew “threatened”
to eat the
на Землю.
it to И
a week the
prank was
и апельсин.
by theвcrew,
by also
the orange.
1975. First pictures from Venus
Venera 9 and 10, USSR.
The probes survived for ~1
hour and sent back some
~0.1 Mpx BW images.
2003. Don P. Mitchell’s beautiful reprocessing
Using the original data from Venera
probes, sophisticated image
processing and Photoshop, Don P.
Mitchell was able to re-map and
greatly improve original Venera
panoramas in 2003.
On the left is the re-processed
picture from Venera-13 (1982).
But why did not Russia do that?
Whose heritage is this? Are Russians
good only at “фотожабы”?
1976. Soyuz-23.
Launched to Salyut 5 but
was not able to dock.
On return to Earth, landed
into a frozen Tengiz lake.
The crew (Zudov,
Rozhdestvensky) spent 9
hours in capsule in -20C in
water and nearly froze to
death and suffocated
before being saved by
helicopter piloted by
Nikolay Kondratyev.
1983. Soyuz T-10-1.
The rocket caught fire a minute
before launch. Two seconds
before almighty explosion, the
emergency escape rocket fired,
pulling the spacecraft away
and saving lives of Vladimir
Titov and Gennady Strekalov.
1990. Hubble Space Telescope.
10 times the resolution of the best
Earth-based telescopes at the time.
Thanks to it, we DO have a map of
Pluto today.
Note: the first successful space
telescope was OAO-2 in 1968.
1990. Hubble’s “eyeglasses”
“During the polishing
of the mirror, PerkinElmer had analyzed its
surface with two other
null correctors, both of
which correctly
indicated that the
mirror was suffering
from spherical
aberration. The
company ignored
these test results…”
Cost to fix: probably
(???) over $1 billion.
Additional corrective mirrors put into the telescope to fix its vision. Left: before. Right: after.
1995. Galileo at Jupiter.
First Jupiter’s satellite.
Carried a probe to enter Jupiter at 200g and
penetrate 150 km of the atmosphere.
Main dish failure 134 Kbit/s => 10 bit/s. Saved by
brilliant programmers.
1997. Fire on Mir.
Faulty oxygen generator caught up a
Six people, two emergency 3-seat
spacecrafts… but the path to one was
blocked by fire!
Commander: “my natural move was to
open a window…”
Heavy smoke, masks.
<= can you imagine having to put off
<= a fire in a cramped space like this?
(Reinhold Ewald’s private conversation
on this account in 09/2008)
2002. The end of Buran.
There was not
enough funding
provided even to
support the storage
No surprise: finally,
it collapsed, killing
8 workers onsite.
2005. Comet “bombing”.
366 kg copper impactor from the
Deep Impact probe hit 9P/Tempel
comet at 10.2 km/s.
Marina Bai, a Russian astrologer
tried to sue NASA for $300 million.
She claimed that the Deep Impact
NASA probe will interfere with her
astrology work because the comet
would no longer be the same. The
case was eventually rejected.
1991++. Asian Players.
• Hiten, Japan, 1991
– Simple lunar probe with very sophisticated trajectory.
• Nozomi (1998-2003) and Akatsuki (2010), Japan
– Mars and Venus probes, both failed though.
• Hayabusa, Japan 2003 – 2010.
– Asteroid imaging, landing, and sample return through a heroic effort.
• Chang'e 1 and 2, China, 2007, 2010.
– Lunar satellites and mappers.
• Kaguya, Japan, 2007.
– Lunar satellite and mapper, including Apollo landing sites.
– If even after that someone still claims NASA has not been not on the Moon, I’m
calling the mental institution.
• Chandrayaan-1, India, 2008-2009.
– Lunar satellite and impact probe.
• 2010: Japanese solar sail IKAROS reached Venus!
2009. Will space debris block the
access to low Earth orbit?
First catastrophic collision of
satellites: 2009, Iridium 33 vs.
Cosmos 2251, @ 11.7 km/s
600,000+ objects over 1 cm
19,000+ tracked
Numerous impacts seen on Shuttle,
Salyut, Mir, ISS
Debris => collisions => debris.
Worst “runaway” case:
∂n/dt ~ n2 
 n(t) ~ (t – tDOOM)-1
Why fly?
Comsats, weather, maps, military?
– Need neither humans nor a flight too far.
Mine resources?
– Nothing (maybe except for 3He) comes even close to being economically or energetically
Science, planetary research, astrophysics?
– Robots are cheaper, easier to protect, and become increasingly smarter.
– You don’t seriously propose that a Man’s Mission in space is of a repairman?
Reduce Earth population? Colonize Mars?
– At $1010 per person?
Populate Antarctica or Sahara first…
– Radically different from Columbus’ situation who arrived to a *habitable* place!
Meet other civilizations?
– Not in Solar System and not via interstellar flight in any foreseeable future.
Develop new technologies?
– Possible. Better solution: give a talented team a bunch of $$$ and ask to build a perpetuum
mobile. The flow of engineering discoveries is guaranteed to never end!
There seems to be no reason
Yet reality disagrees
People die to climb Everest
Some live for years in Antarctica
Some spend years studying Neptune satellites
Some seriously propose one-way missions to Mars
A glimpse from the past:
artists’ impressions of Mars polar cup area:
By Georgy Kurnin, 1974 or much earlier.
Has nothing to do with the reality.
By Reuters Pictures, 2008.
Scientifically correct.
If you knew nothing about Mars,
which picture would’ve likely convinced you to go there?
If you think about that…
(and I don’t claim to know the ultimate answer)
There is a demand for dream and inspiration,
as strong as for food and oxygen.
When inspiration is the demand, art is the response
Yes, current manned spaceflight is… a
form of art! Extremely expensive, risky,
but incredibly inspiring one.
Yes, there is science and practical part
here – and something more important:
food for spirit.
In some sense, this picture indeed was
worth $25B at the time.
It paid back to America way more
than that – with international prestige,
recognition, and most importantly with
people who value science and are
always looking up the skies for the
Thank you for your attention!
1973. Skylab.
Skylab, American space station, 1973.
Big and heavy (made from modified
Saturn V 3rd stage), almost lost on
launch and had to be repaired by the
first expedition.
Garriott decided to play a little prank
to stay busy on Skylab <…> He'd
taken a portable tape-recorder offworld, surprising Mission Control with
the sound of his wife answering the
When ground controller Robert Crippen
<…> demanded to know what she was
doing up there, she replied that she'd
wanted to bring the boys some fresh
food and visit for a few days.
1998+. International Space Station.
Modular design following Mir.
The largest man-made object in
space (400+ tons)
The largest international
cooperation in space. Cost: over
€100 billion.
Continuously habituated since
60+ expeditions, over 297
visitors, 15 pressurized modules
from 5 countries.