The great space race of the 20th century, which culminated in Neil Armstrong’s historic stroll across the surface of the moon, left an immeasurable impact on the modern world. It has inspired several new generations of scientists to push the limits on technology in virtually every industry, and it helped spawn the modern science fiction franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek that we all know and love.
Almost everyone has thought about space travel at least once in their life, and it has become an even more relevant topic in recent years in part due to the efforts of SpaceX. But how much do you really know about space travel? An Udemy lecture, titled the Fundamentals of Spacecraft Engineering Orbital Mechanics ($10.99) and presented by Eliott Wertheimer, aims to give you a greater understanding of the current trends in spacecraft design and interstellar propulsion systems. Whether you consider space travel the last great hope for humanity, the final frontier, or just as a waste of time and resources that could be spent solving problems closer to home, these lectures will leave you with a better understanding of the topic.
After a brief introduction, the lectures begin by discussing practical reasons for traveling to space. In addition to mentioning the advancements made in modern technology as a result of efforts in space travel, Mr. Wertheimer also points out the potential of mining asteroids for mineral resources. He also suggests that developing a successful space program could help prevent human extinction if an Armageddon-type event were to occur and a large asteroid or other foreign object were set on a collision course with Earth. This may seem unlikely, but over 100,000 terrestrial objects larger than 140m in size approach the Earth each year.
Next, the lecturer explains what the space environment is like close to Earth as well as in deep space. This is followed up by a longer series of lectures that covers spacecraft systems and the materials and equipment used in their construction. One of the more interesting lectures explain the various types of power sources available for use on machines sent into space, along with some discussion on how those power sources work and why they are used.
To help reinforce these lessons, three quizzes appear periodically throughout the course. These are fairly straightforward; each quiz is limited in scope to the lectures immediately preceding it, and it will tell you where to look for the correct answer if you got one of the questions wrong. You also can simply skip the quizzes if you don’t feel like doing them.
Similar to Mr. Wertheimar’s other Udemy class, Rocket Engineering and Interstellar Space Propulsion, this lecture series can get rather complicated in places. But in general, there is less math in this one, and it feels in general like the lecturer does a better job of breaking down the complex subject matter into terms that are easier to understand. This makes the overall course more enjoyable and appealing to a wider audience.
This course excels at meeting its primary goal as well. If you genuinely wanted to know more about the current state of space travel and the technology utilized in putting objects in space, then look no further, as that’s exactly what this course will teach you. I highly recommend that you check it out.
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