China became the third nation to bring back a soil sample from the Moon

Photo by 戸山 神奈 on Unsplash

Chinese space program started soon after the Korean war. As in the Soviet Union and the US, it began with the development of short-range ballistic missiles. After the successful reverse engineering of Soviet ballistic missiles, China began developing original rocket designs. Rocket-launching infrastructure grew, and ever-more-powerful ballistic missiles lifted-off from the budding spaceports.

In the late 60s, China officially began developing the crewed space program. China successfully launched its first satellite, Dong Fang Hong 1 (“East is Red” named after a revolutionary song). After the death…


How did the Soviet Union achieve this milestone?

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth, which means that it is always the same half that faces the Earth. Because of this, the far side of the Moon thus remained mysterious for thousands of years and out of reach until the beginning of the Space age.

The Moon’s diameter is 3,476 km, yielding a lunar area of about 38 million square kilometers in size. An additional nine percent of this area was uncovered by exploiting lunar libration — slight changes in perspective that make the Moon “wobble.” …


A perfect propulsion system?

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

We consider rocket science to be challenging — and for a good reason. Crafting a precisely engineered vehicle that propels the spacecraft demands a deep understanding of physics, control theory, fuel chemistry, and engineering. Likewise, understanding the series of failures that led to a specific design is crucial: every blown-up rocket is a lesson in itself. The capability of the rocket comes from the efficiency and adaptability of its engine. It is no surprise that engineers dedicated a lot of effort to improve the technology and design of the rocket engines.

The main principle of rocket engine

The third Newton’s law (action-reaction)…


How spaceflight transformed espionage: from beeps to recovery capsules

New York as seen from space. Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The rivalry between nations fuels the appearance of power. Parades, aircraft fly-overs, nuclear bomb detonations, sausage factories… anything can instill the notion of a mighty nation. Sometimes, the secrecy, the unknown can further inflate this appearance. But what if this secrecy disappears?

In war, knowledge of enemy positions, armament, and plans crucially define the strategy. In the early beginnings of human flight, ballooning soon caught the attention of the military. Hot-air balloon first lifted man aloft in 1782 — yet, only a decade later balloons served in military reconnaissance by observing enemy positions from the air. Likewise, the airplane has…


How we can reach Red Planet with the technology we already have

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

We have always thought of Mars as the next thing after landing on the Moon. Where else? Venus is hellish, Europa lethally irradiated, … Even more, Mars was the planet that cemented itself in Sci-Fi. Werner von Braun, the chief engineer behind the Apollo program, described his vision for a journey to Mars in his book “Das Marsprojekt.” …


A story of catapulting bodies, leprosy wine, and deadly blankets.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The world has changed since the beginning of 2020. In a short time, lively cities became silent, news stopped reporting whooping all-time-highs of stock indexes, airlines stopped flying, and home office became the only office for a while.

Besides halting the world, the virus also demonstrated how vulnerable society can be against a biological threat¹. The latter can emerge naturally or is spread deliberately as an act of war or terrorism. Biological warfare is associated with a similar dread as is the use of nuclear weaponry. The palpable presence of…


Why can’t you camp on Venus?

Glacier National Park (Image by Bor Kavcic)

Glacier national park; you hear the raindrops soothingly tap the fabric roof of your tent. Sun is slowly popping over the horizon, its rays just sneaking through the thick clouds. An hour, two at most, and you can put on your hiking shoes and share the path with the moose, who is on his daily commute to the darker part of the forest.

Here is an obvious question: why can’t you do that on Venus?

Venus is the second of the four inner rocky planets in our Solar system. Depending on its orbital position, it comes closest to the Earth…

Bor Kavcic

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