A close-up of Atlantis during launch. Credit: NASA

Even before man had managed to take to the skies on our planet, he had thought of spaceflight and soaring through the skies of the planets that he could see. As soon as the Montgolfier brothers had successfully launched their first hot air balloon a race began to see who could fly untethered, then into space. That race for spaceflight never let up. Yuri Gagarin and the Soviet space program arrived first, but the Americans were close behind and were committed to one-up-manship.

Tackling all of the spaceflight articles on the internet would take a dozen researchers a lifetime. Of course, you do not have that kind of time or patience, so we have assembled links to all of the articles that we have here on Universe Today related to the topic. We do not expect you to just dive in blind, so here are a few fun facts about spaceflight.

The average space suit costs a little over $12 million(U.S.). Not bad for an outfit that can protect you from a meteorite.

There are 13,000 detectable pieces of space junk…left over pieces and parts from space repairs, broken down satellites, etc. Where ever man goes, garbage seems to accumulate. Some of this junk managed to destroy at least one satellite.

We are on the cusp of full blown space tourism. The ultrarich have been buying trips on space shuttle missions for years, but there are at least two companies that have tested commercial spacecraft.

Many of today’s modern rockets are a variation of the German V2 rocket.

There are hundreds of interesting facts about spaceflight in the links below. Everything from space food to space tourism and the different mission launched by various space agencies. Hopefully, you will find everything that you need and, as always, enjoy your research.

Poland “agrees” to host controversial US missile defence system


In a controversial move likely to enflame tensions between Russia, Europe and the US, Poland has agreed (in principal) to host bases for the “Star Wars” US missile shield intended to protect against any future missile attack from rogue nations. Russia totally opposes plans, stating that a European missile system, so close to the Russian border, is akin to the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s where the US and Soviet Union went to the brink of nuclear war…

Any space missile system intended to neutralize the threat of a nuclear attack from rogue states was bound to cause controversy and anger. As predicted, the future development of a European US missile shield has caused very loud opposition from Russian President Vladimir Putin, directly highlighting that such a move would cause another arms race and could create a nuclear standoff between Russia, US and Europe in between.

The Czech Republic is currently drawing up plans for involvement in the US project and now Poland, a country that directly borders Russia, has agreed to more discussions about installing ten interceptor missiles. The missile shield plans are in a direct response to the ongoing threat from “rogue states”, principally Iran and North Korea, from their nuclear arms development programs the US believes they are still pursuing, but understandably, Russia is suspicious that the US is attempting to gain strategic strength in Eastern Europe. Mr Putin has hinted strongly that although Russia is not planning to begin wholesale targeting of Europe, any “new targets” in the future would be connected to the “strategic nuclear potential of the United States… in Europe” (see BBC article “New era of discord for Russia and West” for full information on the new political unrest). Scary.

We understand that there is a desire for defence modernisation in Poland and particularly for air defence modernisation in Poland. This is something that we support because it will make our ally, Poland, more capable,” – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, supporting the missile defence plan in Poland.

The US missile shield concept depends on European fast response missiles to be launched as soon as the threat of imminent attack is detected from aggressors in the Middle East and beyond. By detecting possible nuclear missiles clearing cloud cover and entering space, radar bases within the EU can track and then guide conventional missiles from the shield network to intercept. Tests of such a system have so far had a mix of success and failure, but with improvement of the “Star Wars” technology (a name first coined in 1983 after announcement by US President Ronald Reagan for the commencement of the “Strategic Defence Initiative”) and rocket engineering, rates of successful interception are bound to increase.

Source: BBC