March Intensive: 2014

Spaceflight: Fact and Fiction

Course Description:

If you are an aviation or outer space enthusiast, then this course may be for you. We will look at the history of spaceflight from the Second World War  through to the International Space Station, including the basic physics of rocketry and orbital motion, and the respective roles of humans and robots in space exploration. We will view obscure archival video of historic space missions and events, and a variety of short documentaries. You will learn to pilot simulated spacecraft and recreate selected historic space missions using the free Orbiter Space Flight Simulator ( Finally, we will compare archival video and our simulated experience to films that dramatize important periods in the development of spaceflight in the US: The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. Warning: although students will be released from the classroom for oxygen and sunlight at regular intervals, you should be aware that this is a full-day activity that takes place during late winter in a dim, windowless room.

About the Orbiter simulator:

"Orbiter is a comprehensive freeware spaceflight simulator for the PC that offers accurate physics, excellent 3D graphics, astronomy features, and a first-person astronaut’s perspective." 

Please see the daily schedule for a detailed chronology of events for the week.

We will also learn to build simple paper models of historical spacecraft.