Tagged: spaceflight

Artist impression of planet Earth, seen from a location at 50.000 kilometres above the Netherlands, showing the Northpole, Europa and Africa

Rotterdam, Netherlands, Europe, Earth, Universe

April 22, the birthday of this blog entry, is Earth Day. There is no better day imaginable to talk about satellite and astronaut photographs of our planet. History The first satellite in orbit around the Earth was, in 1957, the Russian Sputnik-1 (which in fact simply means Satellite-1). However there was no camera on board. The first pictures of the Earth were made a few years later , on April 1, 1960, by the American weather satellite TIROS-1. Since then, our home world has been photographed many times. Some of these images have become iconic, like the Earthrise photograph from...

Close-up of the Earthrise stained glass window showing a piece of the globe with Europe, the Atlantic and North America

Earthrise as a Stained Glass Window

A few weeks ago I made a virtual mosaic, inspired by the famous Earthrise photograph, one of the iconic images of the twentieth century, which has had a huge impact on the way we think about our planet. Lonely This Christmas The Apollo 8 astronauts astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were incredible far from home over Christmas 1968. If the phrase to boldly go where no one has gone before has ever been appropriate, it was in this case. Never before had anyone traveled beyond Earth orbit, which is in fact only a few hundred kilometers from...

Detail of the Earthrise mosaic, a remake of the famous photo made in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission

Earthrise: Remake as a Digital Mosaic

Earthrise is the name of one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century. The photo of the Earth above the gray landscape of the Moon was made by astronaut Bill Anders during the Apollo 8 mission on December 24, 1968, Christmas Eve. On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Earthrise, NASA made this video, which shows in detail how the photograph came about. Fascinating, because it makes you feel like you are there in person. Merry Xmas Apollo 8 was a legendary achievement: the first three people traveling beyond Earth orbit. Their capsule brought them more than...

Impression of The Sulawesi Space Elevator, with a rotating space station and solar panels in the foreground, the Earth in the background and the cable with elevator cars in between.

The Space Elevator: It Ain’t Cheap, But…

An elevator into space: it sounds like science fiction. And that’s what it is: authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote heavy books about it. But what’s science fiction today, is in the newspaper paper tomorrow and in the history books on the day after. And Arthur C. Clarke has been right more often; after all, he also conceived the communications satellite. An appealing concept In recent years, organizations such as NASA, but also companies like Google, started exploring the possibilities of the space elevator. And the concept certainly has some appeal. The traditional way to get...

Ares, the spaceship from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, with the red Planet in the star spangled background

The Ares by Kim Stanley Robinson: a Sustainable Spaceship

Nothing is as good for your spatial understanding as building a 3d model of a spaceship. This is a reconstruction of the Ares from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, based on the descriptions by Robinson and on the original cover illustration by Don Dixon (which contradict each other at some points). Sustainability The Ares was an early example of sustainable shipbuilding: Robinson, who wrote the book in the early nineties, imagined the Ares being composed of recycled space shuttle tanks. American tanks, recognizable from their brown foam insulation, in the outer ring, and Russian tanks for the central axis. The...