Spacecraft Facts

  • There are three kinds of spacecraft – artificial satellites, unmanned probes and manned spacecraft.
  • Spacecraft have double hulls (outer coverings) to protect against other space objects that crash into them.
  • Manned spacecraft must also protect the crew from heat and other dangerous effects of launch and landing.
  • Spacecraft windows have filters to protect astronauts from the Sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.
  • Supposed alien spacecraft are sometimes called flying saucers. Modern science-fiction portrays them as more like this.
  • Radiators on the outside of the spacecraft lose heat, to stop the crew’s body temperatures overheating the craft.
  • Manned spacecraft have life-support systems that provide oxygen to breathe, usually mixed with nitrogen (as in ordinary air). Charcoal filters out smells.
  • The carbon dioxide that crews breathe out is absorbed by pellets of lithium hydroxide.
  • Spacecraft toilets have to get rid of waste in low gravity conditions. Astronauts have to sit on a device which sucks away the waste. Solid waste is dried and dumped in space, but the water is saved.
  • To wash, astronauts have a waterproof shower which sprays them with jets of water from all sides and also sucks away all the waste water, most astronauts sleep floating in the air. The weightlessness of space means that held in place by a few straps.
  • The US space shuttle, the first reusable spacecraft, has made manned space flights out into Earth’s orbit and back almost a matter of routine.