Space is closer than you think

Getting to space the old fashioned waySpace people think is a long way away. They are wrong. It only starts 63 miles away or, if you prefer the metric system, 100 kilometres. Not that far. You can drive that distance in about an hour [keeping to the speed limit – ed].

This distance is just a figure used. There isn’t a firm boundary. The 100km line is also called the Karman Line. The distance that the FAI takes as space. The height at which aerodynamic flight stops as the atmosphere is too thin. America use half of this distance, 50km, to define what an astronaut is.

The problem is that this distance is straight up. It is the hardest distance mankind has ever tried to go. After that, getting to the moon is quite easy. It is power wise at least. Give the spacecraft a little nudge and Isaac Newton’s equations kick in and you’re at the moon 3 or 4 days later. Just remember that you’re aiming at a place where the moon isn’t. Well isn’t yet. It’s not that simple but quite easy to calculate even using the computers that existed in the 1960s. You just have to figure out where the moon will be at the time that the Apollo spacecraft needs to be when it’s timed to arrive.

The closer to this 100 kilometre boundary, the harder it is to keep the object not falling back into the atmosphere and being destroyed by the atmosphere. Once you get to a certain distance then you’re on your own. If you get the distance perfect, then you just fall in time with the hearth. 63,000 km away. It’s where most of the satellites live. The ones that broadcast your television pictures to you, route your internet and telephone conversations.

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