Solar System Explorers: Historical Spacecraft
In this chapter we discuss some actual spacecraft designs that have been launched into the outer parts of the Solar System. These spacecraft represent the first ambassadors from Earth and move outwards with ever-greater speed and to an ever-greater distance. Although these missions are only within the Solar System or just beyond it, they are technology demonstrators for eventual interstellar missions. This is what in the industry is termed ‘interstellar precursor’ missions. Some of these visit the outer planets but others go beyond to the edge of our Solar System, through the interstellar heliopause and into the Kuiper Belt. In the history of space exploration there have been many successful missions, and it is not possible to cover all of them, an entire book in itself. Instead, we briefly discuss only a select few to give the reader an overview of the achievements of these explorers.
KeywordsMethane Magnesium Dust Microwave Mercury
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