Rocket Launch

One of the best ways to study space is to actually go out into space.
In 2021, two companies successfully launch rockets into space.

VISUAL 0A (still): VSS Unity Rocket Plane
VSS Unity Rocket Plane.

One was the VSS Unity Rocket Plane was made by the company Virgin Galactic and launched from a specially designed 2-bodied airplane.

VISUAL 0B (still): Blue Origin rocket ship
The Blue Origin rocket ship.

Another was the Blue Origin rocket ship.

VISUAL 0C (still): Space X Dragon
The Space X Dragon.

Then there’s the Space X Dragon.

In past years people went into space with the Space Shuttle built for NASA.
Let’s take an imaginary ride in a Space Shuttle to see what it’s like.
Everybody fasten your imaginary seat belts!

Change quickly to a daytime sky (to match the video’s daytime launch). After a stop, play the launch of the shuttle. As the shuttle lifts off, the movie should also “lift off” towards the zenith.
VISUAL 1 (still): Shuttle
The Space Shuttle on its launch pad.

Here’s a shot of the Space Shuttle on its launch pad.

[Point out and explain the various parts—two solid fuel booster rockets, the big red liquid fuel tank, and the manned space craft.]

What do you think happens to the external fuel tanks?

[They fall down to Earth.]

Before we launch, we need a countdown, so here we go!

VISUAL 2 (movie): Launch

Notice all the noise and fire coming from the engines. All that power is necessary so that the shuttle can get up into space.

VISUAL 3 (movie): Separation

Once the fuel in the two smaller booster rockets is used up, there is no need to drag them along anymore—they’re just dead weight. So, they drop away and, …

VISUAL 4 (movie): Splash-down

…with the help of parachutes, they fall gently to the ocean below…

VISUAL 5 (movie): Pick-up

…where they are picked up to be reused.

The main engine then takes over.

“Launch” the dome view so we leave Earth and see it from space. Then make Earth rotate around the dome so it gives the feeling we orbit around Earth.

While “orbiting,” the presenter may continue showing movie segments. Continue this “orbiting” until either the presenter decides to land or demonstrate shuttle flying techniques.

VISUAL 6 (movie): Separation

Now let’s see what the separation of the external fuel tank looks like from the point of view of the shuttle craft. This happens when the shuttle has made it into orbit in space. But this one doesn’t make it back down to Earth’s surface—it burns up! It’s the one part of the shuttle assembly we can never use again.

VISUAL 7 (still): Himalayas


What do you think we are looking at here?

[Cake frosting, another planet, etc.—accept any answer.]

This is actually a picture taken from the Space Shuttle of the highest mountains in the world—the Himalayas.

What is this white stuff?

[Snow. Clouds near the bottom.]

Digital Effect: Orbit Earth.
Detach your planetarium projector’s view from Earth and orbit the Earth.
white space

Here’s what our world looks like when we are orbiting around it in space.

What can you see? 

[Oceans, clouds, etc.]