SPACE IS HARD. The past nine months have been difficult ones for rocketry. Multiple failures of Russian launch vehicles, the loss of SpaceShipOne during a test flight, the Antares rocket with the Orb-3 mission falling back to the launch pad in a fireball, and most recently, the disintegration of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

There is no getting around it. Even after five decades of launching satellites and humans into space, the truth remains that as we strive to become a space-faring species, we are pushing against the extreme edges of our technological prowess. We are creating machines to be able to perform at a level previously undreamt, while making demands of metals and other materials to be thinner and lighter, yet also stronger than ever before achieved. We push our machines just to this side of impossibility, and occasionally even beyond.

Humanity has always been an inquisitive species with an innate desire to explore the unknown. With that comes failure and disaster from time to time. But what defines us is our ability to look past our flaws, to overcome our mistakes, and to keep pushing those boundaries just a little bit further with each new attempt.

In this issue of RocketSTEM we bring you both success and failure. The success of the previously untested Lunar Rover sent to the Moon that carried the Apollo 15 astronauts further than any moonwalker before. And, of course, the failures of the above mentioned rocket launches.

But rather than tell you how hard it is to build and launch a spacecraft, we invite you to try for yourself. Kerbal Space Program is a game that is simple enough for a kid, yet advanced enough for engineers at NASA, JPL, and SpaceX to enjoy playing it too.

Download the game and run your own space agency. Just don’t be discouraged when your first rocket explodes upon launch.

Educators and students may reuse the magazine’s material in their classrooms, however, no commercial use or other reproduction is allowed. And, as always, every issue remains free to read online or download as a PDF.

All that – and more – in this issue of RocketSTEM magazine.

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Table of Contents

Kerbal Space Program: Bringing rocket science to games

Rovering across the Moon during Apollo 15

Troubleshooting with a ‘dead’ astronaut

Al Worden on the honor of being an astronaut

The difference it made: Building a car for the Moon

Celebrating Mars New Year

These robots are out of this world

When good rockets go bad

Crisis strikes Russian space program

Falcon 9 ruptures during ascent

Planets may rejuvenate around dead stars

NGC 1333: Stellar sparklers that last

The thrill(e) on the Rille

Clusters of jewels shining in the night sky

Omega Centauri

Front and center: Launch inferno

New Horizons: Pluto garners the spotlight

RocketSTEM • July 2015 • Vol. 3 No. 3 Issue 12 (ISSN: 2326-0661)  © 2015 All Rights Reserved

We hope you will continue to be inquisitive about this universe we all inhabit. Educators and students may reuse the magazine’s material in their classrooms, however, no commercial use or other reproduction is allowed.

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