Introduction: The Rocket (01:40)
Humans are on the brink of deep space exploration; more private companies now build and launch rockets, inspiring an innovations race. Scientists predict that space travel will be as common airplane transportation.
Warding Off Evil (04:54)
Monk Li Tian was tasked with conquering menacing spirits; he made gun powder from bat guano, stuffing it into bamboo shoots and inventing fireworks. They functioned on the principle of rockets and laws of motion.
Establishing Modern Astronomy (03:43)
Thomas Harriot was jailed for 16 years, suspected of participating in an assassination plot; he dedicated the time to studying science. In 1609, he obtained a Dutch spyglass, observing the moon and proving it a solid body. Galileo did the same months later, inspiring generations of scientists and fiction writers.
Inspirational Fiction (03:13)
Jules Verne developed a passion for writing while finishing his law degree in Paris. He specialized in fantasy and adventure stories based in scientific ideas. He released “From the Earth to the Moon” in 1865, triggering public debate regarding the reality of space travel by cannon.
Thinking About Rockets (02:58)
Konstanin Tsiolkovsky read Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon.” He calculated the speed required to leave Earth; the cannon size needed to launch spacecraft was found impractical. He conceived gradually released energy, as employed by fireworks, should be developed for the task.
Technological Breakthrough (06:21)
Karl Gustaf de Laval designed an industrial dairy churn powered by steam turbine; he innovated the converging and diverging nozzle, focusing steam flow and increasing operational speeds. Robert Goddard incorporated it into rockets, increasing fuel efficiency; in 1926, “Nell” reached 100 kilometer an hour speeds and 41 foot heights.
Nazi Ambitions (09:12)
Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun studied aerospace engineering and astronomy, joining the German Society for Space Travel in 1930. He was enlisted by the Schutzstaffel to innovate rockets capable of delivering bombs over 150 miles away; he incorporated turbo pumps into his design, producing the V-2 in 1944.
Delivering Mass Destruction (08:47)
Dropping the atomic bomb triggered the Cold War; the United States and Soviet Union recovered German rocket technology, but the V-2 could not carry a nuclear warhead. Sergei Korolev innovated the R-7, an intercontinental ballistic missile with boosters that dropped off after their fuel drained.
Science Manipulates Politics (02:53)
Korolev envisioned R-7 space travel applications, but government officials were opposed. In 1954, he planted a news story, claiming the Russians were preparing to launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit. When America proclaimed they would follow suit, he took action, replacing the warhead with Sputnik and launching in 1957.
Generating Maximum Speeds (04:25)
Tsiolkovsky studied combustibles, finding hydrogen most efficient for propulsion. Scientists recreated his experiment, illustrating energy released by it and other elements.
Enabling Deep Space Exploration (03:58)
Franklin Chang Diaz describes plasma physics and how the hot soup of charged particles can be electrically contained and manipulated; magnetic forces hold the matter away from machinery, preventing meltdowns. Its development as rocket fuel promises to significantly cut space travel times.
Credits: The Rocket (00:29)
Credits: The Rocket
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