SpaceFest at Home
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, May 27, headed to the International Space Station (ISS).
Please note: all programs will be held on Wednesday, May 27, even in the event that the launch is postponed.
11 am: Scientists at Home: Imagining Space Exploration - Live Watch Party
Join Museum Curator Ruth Angus as she examines the awe-inspiring leap from imagination to scientific achievement in space exploration. From novelist Jules Verne to astronaut Neil Armstrong, learn about how some of the most creative minds spurred unique scientific accomplishments, including human missions to space.
Get inspired by this dynamic presentation to illustrate your own dream of space travel! The May 27 OLogy Challenge for kids, an at-home activity for students from the Museum’s science website for kids, will launch during the program. Submit your illustration for a chance to be featured on the Museum’s OLogy website!
Did you join us for Scientists at Home: Imagining Space Exploration? We'd love to hear your feedback by filling out this quick survey!
1 pm: Field Trip: Spaceflight - Live Watch Party
Use this link to watch on YouTube, or watch on this page.
Ride along with the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart and astrophysicist Jackie Faherty on their mission from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS), to the Moon, and beyond. Like mapping out a cross-country car trip, sending humans into space takes a lot of planning. Weather, distance, detours, traffic, and sightseeing all come into play. Experience the thrill of space flight, see the sites, and discover what goes into planning a successful mission to space.
Did you join us for Field Trip: Spaceflight? We'd love to hear your feedback by filling out this quick survey!
CARTER EMMART (Director of Astrovisualization): Welcome, everyone. Good afternoon. My name is Carter Emmart. I'm the director for Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History on this epic and historic day where we're returning to spaceflight from the United States of America and from the launch site of Kennedy Space Center. But what we see in front of us right now is actually where we have been launching for the past 9 years up to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, our partners in the International Space Station. Today, we're going to be looking at all of this using our software OpenSpace.
And joining me on this journey is Jackie Faherty, who is a good friend of mine. And she's an astronomer at the Hayden Planetarium. Jackie, would you like to say a few words, please?
JACKIE FAHERTY (Senior Scientist, Department of Astrophysics): Sure. Hi, everybody watching from home. I'm Jackie Faherty. As Carter said, I'm an astrophysicist.
I do research on the stars for a living, but I am an avid fan of what is happening today. So I'm very excited to be taking you on this tour with Carter as we use this amazing software and show you a little taste-- right, Carter-- of what it might be like for an astronaut launching off today.
EMMART: Well, hopefully so, Jackie. This software OpenSpace allows us to really come and go and explore the universe and the other planets that we have good coverage of thanks to our space program. Arguably, right here, the whole space endeavor started with the launch of the first human being Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. And then we followed suit with the Mercury Program, we being the United States of America.
But today, we're going to really sort of explore this with a another partner of us here who is our navigator. And that's Micah Acinapura. Micah is a developer for OpenSpace. OpenSpace is freely available.
It's NASA-funded software, but we're developing it at the American Museum Natural History, Linkoping University in Sweden, University of Utah, and New York University. So it's a large collaborative international effort.
What this is, we show data. These are pictures taken from space. What we see in front of us are the two moon pads.
These are for the N1 moon rocket, which didn't quite work out for the Soviet Union. And Micah, if we go sort of backwards here a little bit, we might be able to see some of the other launch facilities. And then we're going to rise up. We're looking toward the north here, the northern horizon.
And you'll notice that, typical for a launch site, is there no houses around. There's no development. This is what's called the Kazakh Steppe. This is grasslands that are vast and sort of unpopulated.
And you want a safety area around any launch facility. And as Micah sort of backs up here and in the lower part of the screen, we may be able to see some of the preparatory buildings, similar as we have, as we'll see in just a minute or so, over in Florida as well. And so this is really where space began.
And of course, the Russians also launched Sputnik, which was the first satellite around earth in 1957. So we're now going to rise up above. And we're getting higher and higher above this launch site, Baikonur Cosmodrome, rich history in launching space, as we say.
And we start to see a line. And that line is in the very upper left of your screen. Notice how the atmosphere thins out. It's only about 20 miles thick before it goes to black.
It actually extends above that, but we don't see it. It's sort of black. And so that's sort of comes into why we put the International Space Station in an orbit, meaning going around the Earth, higher than what we see of just the atmosphere.
All airliners, if you've ever been in an airplane, fly about midway through that atmosphere. They fly up in the stratosphere. So we're flying up, and we see the Syr River.
And over on the left is the remains of what's called the Aral Sea, so a lake that's an inland lake or the remains of it. A lot of it's sort of dried up, because the rivers that flow into it have been used for agriculture. Farther over to the left, we see the Caspian Sea.
And now, we see this line. That line illustrates the orbit or the path trail of the International Space Station. It goes 17,500 miles an hour to make it around the Earth every hour and a half.
And so as we pull out, we'll see a broader view. And Jackie, I was just wondering if you had any reflections on this as we pull out to see the whole global view here.
FAHERTY: Yeah. And I should say that I'm monitoring the chat right now. So I can see what folks are saying and their curiosities. One of the things that they've made note of is that they're so used to-- at least, the kids that are in this chat right now were thinking that we launch over water.
And we just showed them a very dry perspective when we were over the launch pad in Russia. And we're going to take you down to it, kids, because you're thinking of Kennedy Space Center, which is where we're launching from today. So this is an amazing perspective that we're at from here. And we're about to take you to where the astronauts today will be launching from.
EMMART: So Micah's actually gotten the time clock going, Jackie. And so we see the Earth rotating. And so I mentioned that the space station goes around the Earth, amazingly, in just an hour and a half, in 90 minutes.
Now, that means it makes 16 orbits every day. But if you're an astronaut on board the ISS, you would see the sunrise and sunset 16 times a day. So you might think of the day on the ISS as being about 45 minutes and then the night.
But in this way, the orbit comes around, and then the Earth is turning underneath it. So Micah's showing this. Now, we see the orbit cutting across North America just about between the United States and Canada.
We see clouds. We see the Great Lakes underneath some of the clouds just going off the top of the screen. And we see Florida, the peninsula of Florida sticking off the southeast coast of the US. And so we see this prominent state of Florida sticking out.
All the way down we see, at the bottom of the screen, the nation of Cuba. And then we also see the beautiful Caribbean sea and some of the blues of there. Now, actually as we fade away, we can see the continental shelf. That's light blue and the deeper blues of the deeper ocean in this high resolution map.
Halfway up the coast of Florida, there's the cape, this is Cape Canaveral. And it sticks out. And as Jackie was pointing out is that we're used to seeing rockets fly out over water.
In the case of Russia, they didn't really have too good of an access, or their east coast was so far away, they decided to launch from Kazakhstan. But here, the space program in the late '50s, we began to launch from here. And you always want to launch eastward, which, in this case, is to the right.
Why do we do that? Well, just previously you saw when Micah had the time going forward, is that the Earth rotates in an eastward direction. We can use the momentum of the Earth rotating that way to actually help the satellite go into an orbit.
And so that's why we put this at a safe place on the east coast over water. And another thing, Jackie, you can talk to this a bit, because you're a physicist. Just that we want to be as close to the equator, don't we, in launching into space?
FAHERTY: Yeah, that's the best spots that you can be in when you're launching. I should say we're hovering over Kennedy here, which most people know is pretty far south for the United States. It's getting closer to equatorial in there.
And Micah's got us hovering over the Kennedy Space Center, which brings us back to today, where we're going to see SpaceX, this private company, launch from one of these two launch pads that, Carter, I'll describe in a second, close to the coast there. And I was at a launch in January at this very site where SpaceX, the private company that's partnering with NASA in launching two astronauts today, was doing one of their final tests to see if the Dragon Capsule, which is carrying astronauts on it today, would make it safely away if, in case, there was anything that went wrong. And I watched them successfully abort the Dragon back in January from this very, very site here.
EMMART: So the launch facilities here include a very tall building. We see the shadow of it kind of going up to the upper-- there's a building toward the center. Micah's zooming in on it.
That's the vehicle assembly building. Famously, this is the building that was put together in the 1960s by NASA to house as many as four moon rockets at a time. And so then just to the lower right of it, we see sort of in green water. And that's called the turning pond, because the rocket boosters would be made in places like Alabama and Louisiana. And they'd be then floated by barge in the inland waterway, brought here, offloaded, and then stacked together to make the rockets.
And Jackie, your press site-- Micah, could you zoom in perhaps maybe just a little bit closer by this pond? And there's a famous clock that faces out to the launch pads, which we'll talk about in just a second, which are off to the right. And as we come in, we can see a silhouette of the space shuttle, much bigger than the space shuttle actually was. But they sort of do that.
You can see it from above, like from an airplane. But the Micah, it says just below the center of screen there are basically the press area. And this, the lawn just off to the right in front of the water, is where everybody gathers for launches and to view from there.
FAHERTY: Carter, I can say, too, when I was there, they actually wouldn't let us in this area. Because it was an abort test. And so I watched from a little bit further away, which I think a lot of people might be trying to watch from today as well. I was watching from the visitor's center for those that faithfully watch.
We're also getting questions in the chat. Dennis from Tennessee was just asking about the weather today and what kinds of conditions they're looking for. One thing I can say is, when I watched Dragon launch in January, the launch was supposed to happen in the early morning at 7:00 AM. And it was delayed, delayed, and delayed as they were looking at the wind conditions on that particular day.
So you want calm winds, the safest possible conditions that you can have to launch something very quickly. And so we were delayed for about 3 and 1/2 hours that day. We have no idea right now. Neither Carter, nor I, knows what's going to happen. But hopefully, the weather conditions will hold for today, and we'll have calm winds and clear skies.
EMMART: Yeah. You really need those two elements. And Micah's bringing us out now to the launch pads, 39A, which is where we're launching from. And above it is 39B, kind of a copy of this.
SpaceX got the contract to be launching from this very famous launch site. This is where Apollo 11 launched to the moon. This is where most of the Apollo launches occurred.
And you can see it's very close to the breakers of the beach just off to the right. And so these are essentially mountains of concrete to take the pounding of the rocket as it lifts off. And what looks like a dual-lane highway is actually what's called the Crawlerway.
And after we were done with the Apollo program, of course, we transitioned to the Space Shuttle Program, which ended 9 years ago in July of 2011-- SDS-135, the last flight up to the space station of the US Space Shuttle. And it was retired.
And one of the astronauts, Hurley, who was actually on that last flight-- actually, both astronauts going up today with SpaceX are NASA astronauts and have been up on the space shuttle to the ISS in the past.
FAHERTY: I think it's also good to note, Carter, that these two guys are experienced. They're male astronauts heading up. Women also have been to space, not in the same numbers that men have been into space. But we're definitely hoping to see any young girls that are watching this also get inspired for their own desires to go into space. But the two men that are going up today are pretty seasoned veterans, have both been to space and have been training within SpaceX, so that they know what the Dragon capsule, which is the really special capsule that we're talking about today that SpaceX is launching, is going to be sending up.
We've got a couple of questions in here, Carter, about how many astronauts. I know we've said it already, but there are just two astronauts going up. And how many they're meeting on the International Space Station-- which right now is three astronauts for Wilson, who was just asking that question.
EMMART: I'm actually surprised that NASA didn't send a man and a woman on this particular journey. But anyway, it's a very good point. We just had on the ISS-- we'll talk about it when we get there. But we just had the first all-female spacewalk. And I think you know one of those astronauts, Jackie.
FAHERTY: I wish I knew them personally. They are two of my heroes, Jessica and Christina. I can give first names, in part because they are almost so famous.
You might have been seeing them all over the news right now, as they've been talking quite a bit about this mission. And those two women have certainly been breaking some records, one of which was doing a spacewalk on the International Space Station very recently. This was just a couple months ago.
EMMART: So let's go up to the space station now. And Micah's poised to-- we're looking sort of north. We're looking along the coast.
And we're going to rise up slowly here, once again, sort of with that view of the launch facilities. But this is kind of, if you were to look out the window, this is the sort of view you'd have. Micah, could we maybe even just pan a little bit to the left? OK, well, we're pulling out nicely here. This is great.
FAHERTY: You know, Carter, as we also leave the planet, we should note that we're doing this very smoothly in the OpenSpace software. We cannot simulate for folks who are suddenly talking about this in the chat what it feels like to lift off of the planet and experience this acceleration as you start to move faster and faster and that classic feeling that maybe some people have experienced on a roller coaster or in the Tower of Terror at Disney, where you get dropped and you feel this force in your belly. I think, Carter, you had a great line about what an astronaut you had heard say once about the launch.
EMMART: We had the great pleasure of having one of the astronauts, Story Musgrave, who led the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope in its first need for repairs. You may recall that the Hubble launched and had some problem with the optics. And so they had to go fix that.
And so Story came and spent the afternoon with us in our offices at the planetarium. And somebody asked him, what about the launch? He looked at us and said, nobody likes the launch.
It's kind of like being in a train wreck for 20 minutes, given how it shakes. So certainly exciting, but the astronauts train very hard for this. And a lot of them have been test pilots and have had military careers. And so they know what to do in emergencies or in difficult circumstances, training, training, training.
And so the excitement of that launch leads to then the weightlessness and the floating around in space and the view from space. Our world is the most colorful of all the planets. It's the only one covered with liquid water, the beauty of the clouds, the beauty of the green veil of vegetation over the Earth. This is a very special planet.
Let's come up to where we've been since 1998. The first modules that were launched on the first piece of it was Zarya, stands for dawn. It's a Russian word. And so the Russians put up the Zarya module first.
And so we're going to come in on the ISS now. And Micah's steering us in. And we also see the coast of Africa coming up, which is so clear.
We talked about this in our field trip Earth, but how the Sahara desert is so clear. We can see all the geography. And that contrast to the blue oceans is extremely beautiful.
FAHERTY: Carter, we're getting a lot of questions from kids, I think, that want to go to space right now. Because maybe they're inspired by this imagery. But one question in particular right now from J.Lo's eight-year-old daughter is, what will the astronauts be doing on the International Space Station?
And so as we approach, you'll start to get a sense of what this place looks like. But important is that this is a space laboratory and where you can do some of these experiments up there are similar to what kids might be doing in class. You see how seeds grow. We check to see the way different kinds of reactions happen within the space station where you're in this moment of weightlessness.
And so the scientists that are up there are both maintaining this home, but also conducting biology experiments, chemistry experiments, physics experiments. And so their daily duties are being scientists up here.
EMMART: Yeah. And this is a real key point about sort of why do people go. I mean, we have tremendous robotic missions to the outer planets. We've only have sent humans to the moon, and that was 50 years ago.
But really, the human element, it carries literally our hearts and our minds into space. And these astronauts are representatives of humanity for all of us. We can all relate to stories, just as we still relate to the story of Odysseus and the Ancient Greeks and their stories.
And it inspires us. And so to have a discussion with an astronaut is to have a discussion with someone who has gone to a new realm. And this is why I think we send people into space.
And so here on the space station, Micah came up nice and slowly. it's a little bit larger than a football field. And here is Zvezda, this module that is closest to us with its own little solar panels that are sticking up. And that stands for star.
The Russian word for star is zvezda. And Zarya, just ahead of it, was the first piece. I mentioned that. And zarya is the Russian word for dawn.
And Micah, if we come a little closer into the center of this, we'll come up to the first component. We see fairly standardized cylinders. And so these standardized cylinders were launched then by the space shuttle and brought up. And they met the Russian components and began building out this International Space Station.
And so it's much more than just the US and the Russians. We'll be showing you some modules from the European Space Agency and from the Japanese space agency called JAXA. But we're coming up now on that first sort of module ahead of Zarya.
It's called Unity. And it was called that, because it would then be the unifier module by which all the rest of the space station would be built upon. And off to the right is an amazing part of the space station, the Tranquility module. And beautifully named-- the Sea of Tranquility, of course, where we landed with Apollo 11.
And then below it, see that conical shape? Micah can bring us a little closer to that. Unfortunately, we have the windows closed, but we'll see the padded covers to these windows.
This is the bay window on the space station. The space station has some smaller windows to look out of, but this was specially designed so that the astronauts could look at the Earth and look down. We're seeing an image that is taken by NASA satellites that we put together in this OpenSpace software.
And if you're interested in OpenSpace, you can download this for yourself at openspaceproject.com. But also, in our chat, we have some of our OpenSpace team. So you can ask questions about that.
But hopefully, you might be inspired to download this and sort of explore the universe along with us. But here are the windows. There's seven windows on this thing.
FAHERTY: Carter, as we're staring at the windows, you know I have to say this part, which I love. I love it in OpenSpace. The view that you have as an astronaut is still unprecedented in the curvature of the Earth and looking down upon the planet the way they do.
I encourage folks that are watching this to follow astronauts on social media, for instance, Twitter or Instagram. They post the most epic photographs from these positions. And not only is it the planet that's so amazing, but you look around. And you have a dark sky, and there are stars around.
And even though it's seemingly day time below you, you've got this epic nighttime sky. So if there's one thing over everything that I'm jealous of that astronauts get is the view that they have from here.
EMMART: So there are many components to the space station. And boy, it would fill a whole program just to talk about that. But we'll give you a quick little tour.
These standardized modules that I mentioned that are sized to go inside the cargo bay of the fleet of space shuttles that the US operated are 15 feet in diameter. So think of two tall people, one standing on the shoulders of the other. It's sort of the diameter in excess of that, essentially.
So 15 feet is large. But inside, you have a lot of equipment and so forth. So that the space inside the space station, living quarters, are sort of like corridors between various instruments and so on.
The module that we see in front of us now rotating around, that's Columbus. And that was from the European Space Agency. We see the docking adapter in the middle. And off to the right is the Japanese Kibo, or the Japanese experiment module. And it has its own sort of pallet of outside external instruments, as well as its own articulation arm.
Notice, as well, there's another arm, a big mechanical robotic arm to the left. And this is a part of the development of technology from the Canadian Space Agency that's been back to the space shuttle program all along. And the Canadian Space Agency specializes in robotics.
And so Micah, if we come a little closer to the mechanical arm, we'll actually see proudly on the mechanical arm, we'll see Canada. We'll see the word Canada. And they actually have a little Canadian flag. So here, we're seeing, through the Columbus module, the various contributors, the European Space Agency, the Japanese experiments and their module, as well as the US and Russian counterparts.
FAHERTY: Carter, I think it's also good to note that, since we've showed the docking area here, is that that's the other thing folks should look for when the launch happens, which hopefully it'll happen. We get a lot of questions about when it's supposed to happen. We're hoping for today just after the 4 o'clock hour in Eastern Standard Time.
But also, they should they should look for that moment when we dock with the International Space Station. That's the other moment that I think is super exciting to see happen. And Dragon will launch today, but it's going to do a little bit of low Earth orbit to get stable before it docks.
EMMART: That black area right there in the middle is where they dock, just wanted to point that out, Jackie.
FAHERTY: Yeah, perfect. So this is a great visual of what it would look like. So you could imagine yourself on that capsule right now coming in. Another question I want to get in here, too, from Parker and [? Sienna ?] in Harlem, they're asking about how old do you have to be to be on this International Space Station.
And I just checked the ages of the three astronauts that are up there right now. And it looks like the youngest that's on there right now is 34 years of age. I think the youngest that's ever been to space is just over 25, 26-year-old.
So kids out there that are teenagers or younger-- not quite yet to go. But once you're in your 30s, especially 34, that's how you could be up there on the International Space Station.
EMMART: I'll just mention that we see the solar power as well. Now, we can see these solar panels. I was looking this up on the NASA website.
I was curious about how much electricity is generated. And the claim is that you could power about 40 US homes on what they're generating with these high-tech solar panels that are up there. They're off to two sides, because you saw where we dock.
And the space shuttle would fly in. And it flies in by using thrusters, little rocket firings.
And so that thrust goes out. And you don't want that to create sort of a breeze of gas that's coming out. Space, of course, is a void. There are charged particles, things like this. But it's pretty much a vacuum.
But still, when you fire the thrusters, you could disturb the solar panels. So they put them on both sides like that. Jackie, you've read Commander Kelly's book just about what people are doing on the space station and all that. I thought I'd ask you about that.
FAHERTY: Yeah. There's been a lot of questions in the chat, too, about what the astronauts are doing on the space station. And Scott Kelly, who Carter just mentioned, is quite a famous astronaut.
Him and his brother, actually, were both astronauts. And Scott Kelly was sent for what was famously called the year in space. And as much as anything, he was part of the experiment. It was an experiment on how space might change his body in relation to, say, his twin brother's body, who was back on the planet.
But he spent his time, famously, working on these science experiments. He tended to some mold experiments that were up there. He tended to some plants that they were trying to see if they could maintain up there. And I think that this is a lot of what they get to do.
The other thing that they get to do, which he speaks of and which I'm going to repeat what I'm going to encourage people to do, is that they show people what it looks like from space. They reach out to the general public, so that you can see these views of what it looks like from the International Space Station. So the kinds of things-- they're all scientists up there on that ISS, Carter.
EMMART: I'll just mention one little anecdote, which was Charles Bolden, who is the NASA administrator during the Obama Administration came to our museum. And we were in the dome. Leland Melvin who is the head of NASA's education was with him. And he came up afterwards and he said to us, he said, what you just showed was the closest to being in space.
And he hesitated. I said, since you are in space? He said, yes. I said, that's the greatest compliment we could get.
So while we're not floating around inside the Hayden Planetarium, at least the graphics are such that they're based on the images from the satellites. We see an accurate model and all that. And so our goal is to share with you all what it's like to be there.
FAHERTY: Carter-- one other question I have to get in here, too.
FAHERTY: Because I think it's pertinent today. And NASA did send a tweet about this. It's from Eric Martinez. And he was asking if NASA did really say something about Tom Cruise going into space to film something.
And they did say that. And it is possible that, yes, this imagery that we're showing you is fantastic. I think it's movie quality. But it is potentially true that Tom Cruise might be headed to the place that, I think, Carter and I are very jealous that he would get to go.
EMMART: Yeah, mission possible. So anyway, if it raises the awareness of space, I think that's perhaps a good thing. But anyway, yeah, I am jealous.
Tom's an actor. I work at the planetarium. Come on, let's all go.
But from this position and visual, it seems as though the only thing up there is the ISS. Really, in what we call lower Earth orbit, you've seen that it's really just enough above the atmosphere that we don't encounter drag from the atmosphere. So space station's nicely placed.
But this is also the home of many more satellites. And they're all moving at nearly 18,000 miles an hour. So if one hits you going the other direction, that could be a bad day. We'll talk about that, but the distances between these things are usually so great.
But I thought perhaps we should show some of our counterparts out there. Now, these are not with people. But these are the instruments. These are our satellites, our robots in space that monitor weather. They are relays for telecommunications. And they're doing various experiments and observations for military and so on.
But just even within lower Earth orbit-- and I'm going to ask Micah if we could actually advance time a little bit, so we'll see them in motion. So in other words, we would run the clock faster. And if we do, we'll maybe see that in a little bit of dynamical motion.
FAHERTY: Carter, we should also note that this is not a complete sample of what is up there. Of course, there is--
EMMART: Very good point.
FAHERTY: --a lot more material. We actually have a question from [? Sara ?] [? Croker ?] about, has anything like a meteor or some space junk ever, say, hit the International Space Station? And there is a really fun thing you can look for once we start to go back to museums.
If you go to the Smithsonian, you can see parts of the Hubble Space Telescope that got brought back. And that was certainly hit by a teeny tiny little meteorites, micrometeorites. And so anything that's up there-- and we're showing you a significant amount of material, but not the whole of the material-- is actually quite dangerous.
So if fleck of paint can be dangerous up there. So we really need to pay attention to the amount of material that is launched into space.
EMMART: And that's a very good point, Jackie. It's just that the smaller things are, the more numerous they are. And we have satellites that are sort of in different classes.
And Micah's backed away now to where we can see this very obvious belt around the equator. And some have called it the Clarke belt for the science and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who in 1945 suggested, if you put a satellite above the equator at about 22,000 miles, it's orbital period matches the rotation rate of Earth. So these are geosynchronous satellites.
This is a ideal place to put relay satellites. So from the Earth, they just always seem to be right above your head. And you can just aim your satellite dish at the satellite and basically transmit and receive signals.
This distance, in fact, is 1/10 the distance to the moon. And the space station is just now a little line around the Earth. And 10 times this distance of the geosynchronous satellites is our moon.
And you know, we haven't been to the moon since 1972. So it's almost 50 years ago that we left the moon. And so we thought we would give you a vision, a little bit of where we'll be going in the future.
And it seems as though the momentum of the space program, certainly the US program-- the Chinese also have had a series of missions leading up to a possible human flight in the future-- but this destination of the moon and returning to the moon, when the case of the United States goes. So there are various plans.
And so Micah's backed away so far that we now see an orbit in gray of the moon around the Earth. We also see a line coming out from the Earth itself. And that's the Earth's orbit around the sun.
Of course, we go around the sun in one year. And the moon goes around the Earth in one moonth, or one month. But we're now going to run actually a little bit of a replay. Let me just reorient it to show you the first time that humans left the Earth, sort of really left the Earth.
And so Micah's going to pull in a little closer. And we can now see the line stretching out from Earth that was carrying the Apollo 8 spacecraft. The three Apollo 8 astronauts are the first humans to actually go to the moon.
They didn't land on the moon. They went to the moon, and then orbited 10 times, and then came home. But they got to the moon on Christmas Eve of 1968.
Notice how you don't aim at the moon. You aim where the moon will be. And that's why they call it a rendezvous. You both meet there at the same point in time.
And at about 3/4 or farther out from the Earth, the gravity of the moon takes over. And the spacecraft starts to fall toward the moon. They fire its engine to put it into orbit. And then they went around and then came back. It took about 3 and 1/2 days to get to the moon.
FAHERTY: Carter, that sounds both like a long and a short amount of time, as we're getting a lot of questions in the chat about wanting to go, but how long would it take. So just to repeat-- just 3-ish days to get there. And then you do your experiments, whatever that's going to be. And then you can come back.
So something that might be on people's minds is that SpaceX, which is this private company, that Elon Musk has made it very, very clear of his desire to see humans in space exploring. And so there's a big door opening today, even if it's just historical, in that we're going to space with a private company. And that might soon very well be a reality that some of us might be able to take a trip to the moon.
EMMART: And he also wants to go to Mars. So we thought we would show you in one last sort of respective of how far these distances are. The moon is it was 240,000 miles away. The moon is 1,000 times the distance that the International Space Station orbits above the Earth.
Mars is the next planet out. Here, we can see the sun. We can see the inner planet, so Mercury, closest to the sun, and then Venus. Venus actually comes closer to us than Mars.
But Mars is the fourth planet out. It takes about 3 years to go around. We go around 1 year.
And from this perspective, Micah's realigning so that we can show you, basically, the path of Mars 2020, hopefully to be launched from Kennedy Space Center this July to Mars. And see how the path diverts away from Earth. So we see the Earth's orbit, the Earth's trail. We see the trail of Mars 2020. And then we see Mars.
And so Mars 2020 zooms out. And once again, just like Apollo 8, it launches to where Mars will be. They rendezvous together. And it takes about 8 months. So I think it's launching in July and gets there around mid-February, hopefully, if all goes well.
FAHERTY: So that's quite a bit longer, 8 months. For those of you that are asking, how long is the longest space travel that we're thinking of-- 8 months to get to Mars. And then you're going to do your experiments there and come back. So it's a pretty big chunk of time.
We've got now questions coming in on all sorts of things. One of which that I think we can also address here, is how do you become an astronaut?
EMMART: We have to worry about such things as-- well, becoming an astronaut has traditionally been the realm of it's risky to be an astronaut, but those who love flight and typically have had military careers. The requirements to be a fighter pilot are similar to requirements to be a test pilot. And today, I just want to remind everyone that today's anticipated flight is a test flight. And this is why we're working with astronauts who have been there before.
And so most of the astronauts, the original Apollo astronauts, had grown up. And several of them had a license to fly airplanes before they had a license to drive a car. And also, a lot of them came from farm country out where they knew how to repair things. If the combine breaks, maybe you won't get home to dinner unless you know how to fix the engine on the thing.
And so a lot of them had practical knowledge, love to fly. And if you love to fly and want to learn how to do that-- but also, if you're not just a pilot and you're a scientist. Jackie, I mean, you're an astrophysicist. Become the best scientist you can be, and you may be sent up to do experiments in space.
FAHERTY: I should also say I happen to have my pilot's license as well and a degree in physics. And I don't actually want to go to space right now. I think I'd like to see Crew Dragon successfully dock. But one extra bit on here as well on this is that, when the movie The Martian came out, the number of people that applied for the space program skyrocketed.
So folks should be watching this launch also for the inspiration. And I hope to see-- go online and look for that astronaut application if you're eligible. Put your name in there.
Who knows? Maybe you're going to be the one that's headed here to the moon, as Micah's taking us into the moon here. Maybe it'll be you. The astronaut applications, when they do open, sign on and get your name in there.
EMMART: I just wanted to mention that one of my high school interns has going off to do lunar research in a PhD program about the moon. And she introduced me to her roommate, who was just selected for the Artemis program. Artemis-- the twin sister of Apollo, the goddess of the moon. Apollo, of course, we know as our mission to the moon, but really was the sun god. And Artemis is the god of the moon, goddess, of the moon. And most likely, the first human to step foot on the moon in the future will be a female astronaut.
FAHERTY: Yeah. And that's an important note, also, as we're going around here, Carter, that when they were talking about this moment that we're at today for this commercialized crew going up, the various administrations, the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration, which has started all of this into effect, they wanted a destination. And so the destination of the moon has become a place that they're looking for. So Artemis, which who knows what the year will be when we go, 2024, 2025, maybe a couple of years from now? But this might be the site of where we will see that first female astronaut step foot upon another planetary surface.
EMMART: That's right. And Micah's bringing us up to the good ship, Apollo 8. And I think on the fourth orbit or so, it saw it was oriented in just such a way that Bill Anders, who is assigned to be photographing everything on the voyage, looked out and said, my god, that's beautiful.
And what he saw was the Earth rising above the edge of the moon. And it was a moment of realization, perhaps, for the entire world. This image was quite famous.
But really it sort of put everything in perspective. We put a lot into going to the moon. And rising above the moon was us, was the Earth, all of history that we've known.
Everything that has ever been that we know of has been on that planet. That is us. And it's up to us to figure out how to live together, work together, and maintain our system. It was an image that gave birth to the environmental movement.
We really want to thank you for joining us today. Jackie, this has been a lot of fun to present with you. And I know that we have, I guess, a survey and a quiz.
FAHERTY: That's right. Yeah. We're about to end the program. But once we close the program, there'll be a survey and a quiz, a fun quiz for you to take to see what you've learned.
And also, if you're interested, so tune in for that launch, which hopefully is going to be happening later today. We will also be coming back. Myself, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Mike Shara will be back at 4 o'clock for some commentary on the actual launch on our Facebook channel. So tune in for that if you want.
But otherwise, Carter, this is always fun to do space visualizations with you. You are such an avid enthusiast about what's out there. And I hope people, I hope especially kids, are excited. And we might be speaking to some of the future astronauts.
EMMART: And I also want to give a shout out to my student [INAUDIBLE], who had prepared the national model for us today. And he's a high school student with the Bergen County Academies. And I've had a long stream of students from them, and they've worked with us.
And that's just been tremendous to add on what you can, hopefully, all enjoy at home by downloading OpenSpace and exploring along with us. Thank you very much.
4:05 pm: The Future of Space Exploration with Neil deGrasse Tyson - Live Watch Party
Watch the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch live from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with commentary from Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, Museum astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, and Museum Curator Michael Shara as they discuss the future for human missions to space.
Have a question to ask our presenters? Send your queries in advance to [email protected].
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In 2020, the Museum is celebrating the legacy of Charles Hayden, whose vision made the Hayden Planetarium possible and brought the universe to New York City.