ASTR 308V: Into the Final Frontier
Section M01
Fall 2017

Last Modified 8.08.17

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WEEK 01 Aug 15
No Class
Aug 17
Introduction: The Syllabus
Film: We are Capable of Greatness (5 min)
Film: Wanderers (5 min)
Class Dicussions

Welcome. Here is our lecture and exam scehduled for the semester. My goal this semester is to light a fire in you for the human condition- for the optimism and hope of a non-ending destiny for humanity. Equally true for individuals as it is for humanity as a whole, we must step outside our current comfort zones to grow and mature. Space is that final frontier beyond our comfort zone. Per aspera ad Astra!

WEEK 02 Aug 22
Film: Space as a Culture (37 min)
Film: The Overiview Effect (20 min)
Class Dicussions

Space is not a "special interest". It is our future if we will embrace it. Seeing earth from space in the 1960s changed us and continuing to go to space is the key to humaninities health and prosperity. How does seeing our planet as it truly is, as a fragile sphere suspended in black infinite nothingness, affect us and change us? How does it redefine how we see oursleves? How do we have that effect reach a "critical mass" so that humanity as a whole is changed by it?

Aug 24
The Birth of Modern Science I
Aristotle. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler

Before physically going somewhere "else" you need to be able to imagine it and visualize it in your mind. Science is the human expression of trying to understand, imagine, and visualize what the world around us truly is. We have a drive to learn and perhaps this is one our most positive defining qualities. As we will see, out imaginations and struggles don't yield the "right" answer about what the world is, and then we completely shift our mental picture (called a paradigm change).

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 294-312

WEEK 03 Aug 29
The Birth of Modern Science II
Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein

Continuing with our story, we learn that we will NEVER know the truth of physical world. But as we drive for knowledge, we obtain better and more accurate visualizations of what the universe is. This is the story of how Einstein blew out minds and opened the universe up to us like never before.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 312-327, pp 401-408

Aug 31
Setting the Stage for Discovery
The Great Interruption

In the western world, the stage for humans to "boldly go" was set in Greek antiquity. But there was a 1000 year Great Interruption of superstition and religious power. Is it possible that without this intterruption we would have built computers, established global space-based telecommunications, and unleashed the Internet back in 1000 CE?

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 82-113

WEEK 04 Sep 05
The Untold Story of the Dark Ages
In Class Film: The Mysterious Vikings: Who Were They? (41 min)
In Class Film: Vikings, The Founders of Europe (start at 45 min)

What brought us out of the darkness of the Great Interruption was a race of people that explored, exploited, and conquered. Yet, in the end, they assimilated into and improved the fabric of the societies they originally threatened. And, they took the politics and religions back to their homelands and were changed forever. This is the untold story of the Vikings who, in a 400 year period, changed the world via exploration across the seas and rivers.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 204-217

Sep 07
Paths to the East

In an irony of history, a vast empire from the east opens the door for direct east/west relations that was previously blocked by the impenetrable middle-eastern empires. Europe is forever changed again. After only 100 years, a young humble Chinese peasant brings it all to an end. After the east/west open door is slammed shut again, Europe's economies weaken, wars arise, and there is a push to flank the middle-eastern world. But how?

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 118-143

WEEK 05 Sep 12
Prince Henry, Africa and India

With the shutting down of direct east/west relations, a new stage is set in a country that sees the world just a little bit differently. In this country, a single man emerges, and through his unprecedented efforts, management skills, and vision, we take to the open ocean. Prince Henry is now known as "The Father of Continuous Discovery". A Mari usque ad mare.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 147-178

Sep 14
The Arabs and China

Europe went forth and never looked back, but the equally powerful and advanced Arabic empire never did. Why is this? And what of China and her explorations? This is the story of a Muslim, who was taken as a slave to China at age 10, became a eunuch of the emperor, then a navy admiral. His exceptional sea explorations covered a third of the world 60 years before Columbus made his fateful voyage. But it was all shut down due to politics, and the negative consequences lasted centuries.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 178-201

WEEK 06 Sep 19
Columbus and Vespucci

Our common popular views are that sea exploration started with Columbus in 1492. We now see Columbus in his historical context as a next logical step in the sequence of sea exploration as driven by the economic political landscape of Eruope, as a consequence of events spanning 500 years. So, he sails directly westard, but never fully understands his destination. It takes the young, ambitious Amerigo Vespucci to set the record straight.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 224-254

Sep 21
Magellan, Cook, and the Modern World

A flurry of exploration between 1492 and 1522 leads to the fist circumnavigation of the world- 250 men begin the journey, 18 survive it. A period of nation-state rivalry and secrecy emerges, and trade goes global. Some 200 years later, global navigation becomes science, a search only for knowledge. The outcomes yield our modern world. But, we briefly entertain how different our world could be if China had never retreated from her early sea explorations.

Reading: The Discoverers, pp 256-289

WEEK 07 Sep 26
"Spill Over" Day
Discussion/Review of Exam 1
Sep 28
Study Sheet | Time Line of Events
WEEK 08 Oct 03
Space Pioneers and Rocket Science

We introduce the dreamers and the doers of space flight. Four early "rocket scientists" are considered to be the leaders of the space age, and they were all born in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Many were influenced by the science fiction of Jules Verne. We then introduce the rocket equation and show that rockets work most efficiently in the vacuum of space.

Oct 05
Cold War Rocketry

The end of WWII set up the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The new battle ground was space, the new "ocean" surrounding Earth. German rocket scientists and technology became the prize to be grabbed by the contenders- all for the purpose of building delivery systems for nukes, i.e. intercontinental ballistic missles. Then one day, a Russian tossed a ball into Earth orbit- Sputnik, and the Space Race was born.

Reading: The Space Race, start reading

WEEK 09 Oct 10
Project Mercury
Film: The Wings of Mercury, Part 1 (1-34 min)
Class Dicussions

Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program. Six manned flights were conducted, and they caused a national stirring of futurism. Seven astronauts became willing "cold war warriors", all willing to risk their lives for the personal and national prestige of getting to space first. The projects objectives were orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth, invesestigate a man's ability to function in space, and to recover both the spacecraft and the man safely.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

Oct 12
Project Gemini
Film: The Wings of Mercury, Part 2 (34-56 min)
Class Dicussions

Project Gemini was the second U.S. manned space program. Each mission had a two-man crew. There were nine manned flights. In this series of missions, humans kearned to fly in space: we performed the first rendevous, docking, space walks, and two-craft maneuvers. Gemini was the project that we cut our space teeth on. All of the goals of Gemini were designed to provide the skills and knowledge for landing on the moon (except the landing itself). Navigating to the moon had been mastered using unmanned probes.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

WEEK 10 Oct 17
Project Apollo, Part 1
Film: One Giant Leap, Part 1 (1-21 min)
Class Dicussions

President Kennedy issues the challenge to put a man on the moon and bring him home within 10 years. The engineering challenges are off the chart and the timeline and Cold War / Space Race environment creates a focus such as never seen in humanity. Here, we discuss solutions that were adopted, tragedies and victories, and the anatomy of a moon mission.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

Oct 19
Project Apollo, Part 2
Film: One Giant Leap, Part 2 (21-45 min)

Off to the Moon. The intensity of focus and the quality of work by hundreds of thousands of people are so high that the stepping stone missions to accomplishe the moon landing go off virtually without any set backs. Bold moves are made with Apollo 8 due to threats from the Russians and the delays in the lunar lander construction. And then... it all comes together with Apollo 9, 10, and 11.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

WEEK 11 Oct 24
Project Apollo, Part 3

Apollo 12 provides landing precision. Apollo 13 tests our resolve. Apollo 14 gets us back in the game. Then, getting serious, NASA upgrades the engineering and it is off to explore and do science with Apollo 15, 16, and 17.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

Oct 26
Project Apollo continued

Reading: The Space Race, continued

WEEK 12 Oct 31
Project Apollo completed
Film: Why Russia Did Not Put a Man on the Moon (14 min)

Reading: The Space Race, continued

Nov 02
Visiting Lecture
Ethan Dederick, Mars One Astronaut Candidate
Mars One

Reading: The Space Race, finish

WEEK 13 Nov 07
The Soviets and Russians

The Soviets were first in all things space from 1958 to about 1965 and it seemed that they were way ahead of the United States. Here we review the Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz missions the so moved the world. Failures were tighly held state secrets of the Soviets. We will argue that had Korlev not died, the Soviets probably would have beaten us to the moon and won the space race. We then examine their space station programs Salyut and Mir, and their space shuttle Buran. Today, Russia's many design bureaus havce been merged into the Roscosmos State Cooporation for Space Activities and they plan to go to the moon again.

Reading: The Space Race, continued

Nov 09
Study Sheet | Time Line of Events
WEEK 14 Nov 14
Sky Lab and The Space Shuttle Era
Film: One Giant Leap, Part 3 (45-57 min)

For the US, post Apollo-era activity is two fold: (1) get a space station in earth orbit for long duration missions and scientific studies- this became SKYLAB, a cheap solution of using a hollowed out stage of the Saturn V rocket. Three missions are undertaken and then SKYLAB is abandoned. (2) Develop a reusable Earth orbiting spacecraft with a large payload to orbit capability. Thus, in 1981, the Shuttle Era begins. The Shuttle is dangerous and takes more human life than any other space vehicle, but it serves for 30 years, well beyond its design expectations. It becomes a work horse for building the International Space Station.

Nov 16
The Chinese

The Chinese started a space program back in the late 1960s in an attempt to join the space race. But still experiencing the sting of their 1433 Great Withdrawal, they suffer under the corrupt communist regime of Mao. They put up a satellite in 1970 and then withdraw again. Now in the 2000s, they are on a tear. They have put a dozen taikonauts in space, send probes to the moon and around the solar system, and have built two space stations with plans for a third that rivals the Intrnational Space Station. They may be first to put the next human back to the moon.

Nov 21
Nov 23
WEEK 16 Nov 28
TBA: New Space and the Future
Nov 30
TBA: New Space and the Future
Dec 05
FINAL EXAM 1:00PM to 3:00 PM
Study Guide (Finals Week)
Dec 07
(Finals Week)