Jeremy Hansen: Hi, this is Jeremy Hansen, Canadian Space Agency astronaut.
Today, we’ll be talking about rockets.
Currently, when astronauts go to space, they travel to the International Space Station.
The International Space Station orbits the Earth at about 400 km above the surface of our planet.
It is an international collaboration including Canada, the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency, which involves many nations. We all work together to do some incredible things in space.
For a long time now, we’ve been using the Soyuz rocket to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
The Soyuz rocket is just under 50 metres tall and weighs about 300 thousand kilograms – that’s pretty heavy!
It can carry just over 8 thousand kilograms to space.
This is what it looks like from the inside. Here you can see my colleague David Saint-Jacques inside the Soyuz vehicle he used for his mission to the International Space Station.
There were three astronauts crammed into this Soyuz capsule.
Recently, we started launching humans on a new rocket, the Space X Falcon 9.
The Falcon 9 has been flying for many years to launch satellites and cargo. But only recently with a Crew Dragon Capsule on top to carry humans.
Here you can see the Falcon 9 for the launch of the RADARSAT constellation mission in June 2019.
This Canadian satellite constellation can see our planet even through clouds. It now helps us with disaster management, climate change and water monitoring, and defence of our country. It has all sorts of neat purposes.
The Falcon 9 can do the work of 3 Soyuz Rockets. It’s about 70 metres tall and weighs about 550 thousand kilograms.
This is what it looked like when we launched two Americans for the first time on this rocket.
And this is what it looks like inside the Crew Dragon.
It was designed for NASA by SpaceX to carry four astronauts, but it is actually big enough to carry seven.
One of the really cool things about Falcon 9 is that you can stick three of them together and make what’s called a Falcon Heavy.
Female voice: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. Ignition.
Jeremy Hansen: A Falcon Heavy is the same height as a Falcon 9, but it weighs a whole bunch more, about three times as much. So it can do the work of 8 Soyuz rockets.
It is a pretty big rocket!
Watching a launch is amazing, but what is more amazing is seeing it land!
This is an image of the two side boosters landing after that rocket you just saw launched.
The technology that has been created for these to come back to Earth to be reused is fascinating.
It is new technologies like this that are making getting to space cheaper and easier.
Which means, we’ll be doing more space in the future!
Here is another rocket we are working on right now.
We are going to be sending humans to the International Space Station on it very soon.
It is the Atlas 5 rocket, which will carry the Boeing Starliner capsule on top of it.
It can do the work of about two and a half Soyuz rockets. So it is a big rocket as well.
On this drawing, you see what it looks like going to space, with the capsule on top.
Let me show you some other really neat technologies we are working on right now.
This one is called Dream Chaser. It’s being built to take cargo to space, but someday it is going to be able to take people.
This one is from Virgin Galactic. It is also able to take people on rides up into space, but not around our planet or into orbit.
That means they fly up, and then they fall back down. You get to go to space and you’ll be floating around for about 6 minutes.
This is a pretty neat design because you’ve got a mother ship that carries the middle part or the rocket up to the edge of the atmosphere.
And then you fire that rocket and you fly up into space, and then this part glides back down to be reused again.
Another company that is doing the same work is Blue Origin. It has a similar concept where it flies up into space and then falls back down. All of this rocket is reusable.
They are currently building a bigger version called the New Glenn. The New Glenn is about 100 metres tall and can do the work of 5 and a half Soyuz rockets, and it will fly all the way into Earth orbit.
Now, I’ve been talking a lot about getting to the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. But if we want to know what’s coming in the future, we have to look further into space, to the Moon.
NASA is building the Space Launch System, an enormous rocket!
This rocket is 111 metres tall and can do the work of 16 Soyuz rockets for getting things into space.
This is what the boosters of that rocket look like when they are firing.
This is a very, very powerful rocket.
The Orion capsule that is on top of this rocket can carry 4 astronauts.
The goal of NASA with this rocket is to send astronauts back to the surface of the Moon.
So, as you can see, there are some neat things coming with respect to how we will fly people to space.
And what drives us at the Canadian Space Agency is leveraging the challenges of space exploration with our international partners, to bring benefit back to humanity, on Earth.
To learn more about these benefits or to continue studying rockets, visit the Canadian Space Agency website!