Spacecraft must leave Earth’s atmosphere using rocket engines in order to achieve orbit.
Engineers specialize in creating spacecraft switch panels and display systems as well as testing multiple spacecraft trajectories.
A spacecraft is a vehicle designed for travel or operation in space.
Spacecraft are vehicles designed for travel or operation in space, typically beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Spacecraft may be unmanned or crewed vehicles used for communications, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration, interstellar travel or space colonization purposes. Since 1957 alone, over 5,000 spacecraft have been launched into orbit – most being probes, although there have also been some manned missions (Vostok 1 being the inaugural mission in 1961).
Spacecraft are equipped with sensors and instrumentation to collect data for downlink communication with ground stations, while an onboard computer manages its various subsystems – typically attitude determination and control, navigation/control, guidance/guidance power/command and data handling thermal control/structures etc. attached to their spacecraft buss based upon mission profiles.
A satellite can use thrusters for fine-tuning its position or performing orbital maneuvers known as stationkeeping, as well as to generate electricity using solar panels mounted on its body. Furthermore, some spacecraft are designed with features to facilitate atmospheric reentry while others come equipped with parachute landing mechanisms.
Manned spacecraft like the Space Shuttle and Soyuz are designed to transport astronauts safely into space and back down again, using either a reusable craft such as the Shuttle or expendable ones such as Soyuz.
Deep-space mission spacecraft include orbiters, flybys, landing probes and rovers like Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder as well as Cassini lander Philae that will land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko later in 2014. Sample return spacecraft like Stardust returned samples from comet Wild 2 in 2005; all require complex thermal control systems in order to operate at various temperatures in space environments.
A spacecraft is a vehicle that is designed for travel or operation in space.
Spacecraft are vehicles designed to explore or operate in space with or without crew aboard. This term encompasses everything from tiny probes sent to Mars to the massive Space Shuttle. Spacecraft are generally propelled through rapid expulsion of mass, creating reaction force (Newton’s third law). Because space is non-gaseous environment, frictional forces such as those used on car tyres or wings would not work in spacecraft as there would be no medium (gas).
All spacecraft include a power subsystem and communications system as well as any science instruments (referred to as payload). Furthermore, they must possess a structural subsystem that can bear the loads imposed upon them from launch vehicles and orbital launch platforms.
Most spacecraft are either uncrewed or crewed. Manned spacecraft feature a cabin for astronauts to relax in while being equipped with life support systems, while uncrewed ones often provide transportation from and to space stations like the International Space Station. Space shuttles, for instance, can be reused many times over, while single use capsules like Soyuz provide transport from and to it as needed.
Spacecraft are placed into orbits depending on their mission, typically circular but sometimes more complex, such as low Earth orbit (LEO) or geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO).
Some spacecraft feature solar wings that rotate towards the Sun, such as European Space Agency’s 20 tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle which delivers cargo and experiments to the International Space Station. Others, like Meteosat or box-shaped satellites used by European Space Agency’s Earth observation fleet are drum-shaped without spinning; still others resemble airplanes such as North American’s X-15 spaceplane or Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne/SpaceShipTwo used by Virgin Galactic provide paying passengers on board these spacecraft.