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Eyes Turned Skyward
A star gazing, rocket riding, moon walking quote collection




Tsiokovsky equation

Δv = change of velocity of the vehicle.
v  sub e = effective velocity of exhaust gases.
M = initial total mass of the vehicle.
m = final total mass of the vehicle.

— Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky. This is Tsiolkovsky's formula (sometimes called the mass ratio formula or the ideal rocket equation), and it the theretical foundation of rocket propulsion. First seen in his seminal work  'Investigation of World Spaces with Reactive Devices' ('Isslyedovanye mirovykh prostranstv ryeaktivnymi priborami') published in the Russian journal Science Review. The paper included the concept of a liquid-fuel rocket (shown below) and the theory of flight of a rocket with changing mass. 1903.

Conceptual sketch of a liquid fuel by Tsiolkovsky, 1903

Man's mind and spirit grow with the space in which they are allowed to operate.

— Krafft A. Ehricke, rocket pioneer.

A good rule for rocket experimenters to follow is this: always assume that it will explode.

&mdashAstronautics, issue 38, October 1937.

Indeed the early history of rocket design could be read as the simple desire to get the rocket to function long enough to give an opportunity to discover where the failure occurred. Most early debacles were so benighted that rocket engineers could have been forgiven for daubing the blood of a virgin goat on the orifice of the firing chamber.

— Norman Mailer, Of a Fire on the Moon, 1971.

Even though the release was pulled, the rocket did not rise at first, but the flame came out, and there was a steady roar. After a number of seconds it rose, slowly until in cleared the frame, and then at express-train speed, curving over to the left, and striking the ice and snow, still going at a rapid rate. It looked almost magical as it rose, without any appreciably greater noise or flame, as if it said, “I’ve been here long enough; I think I’ll be going somewhere else, if you don’t mind.

— Robert Goddard, regards the first rocket flight using liquid propellants at Aunt Effie's farm, 17 March 1926.

How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for 'aiming at the stars' both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.

— Robert H. Goddard, in letter to H. G. Wells, 1932

Do you realize what we accomplished today? Today the spaceship was born.

— Dr. Walter Robert Dornberger, spoken to Wernher von Braun, after the first successful flight of  the A-4 rocket to the edge of space, 3 October 1942.

It all looked so easy when you did it on paper — where valves never froze, gyros never drifted, and rocket motors did not blow up in your face.

— Milton W. Rosen, rocket engineer, 1956.

Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department.

— Tom Lehrer, comedian/songster, 1965. The lyrics of the full stanza are:

don’t say he's hypocritical,
But rather that he's apolitical.
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.

The line is sometimes incorrectly attributed to von Braun himself, who started his rocket research in Nazi Germany.

I Aim at the Stars

I aim at the stars. But sometimes I hit London.

  — sometimes incorrectly attributed to Wernher von Braun. I Aim at the Stars was the U.S. title of a 1960 biographical film about the life of von Braun; however the reference to his World War II work for Nazi Germany was suggested by comedian Mort Sahl.

Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don’t have the balls to live in the real world.

— Mary Shafer, NASA Ames Dryden. Complete text of the newsgroup posting with context, circa 1989.

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.

— Cornelius Tactitus

There's the whole myth about rocket science. It's really not that hard. It's not brain surgery.

— John Powell, founder JP Aerospace, Wired magazine, July 2006.

It is a monster, that rocket. It is not a dead animal; it has a life of its own.

— Guenter Wendt, NASA Pad Leader, First On The Moon, 1970.

This beast is best felt. Shake, rattle, and roll. We are thrown left and right against our straps in spasmodic little jerks. It is steering like crazy, like a nervous lady driving a wide car down a narrow alley, and I just hope it knows where it's going, because for the first ten seconds we are perilously close to that umbilical tower.

— Michael Collins, Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, NASA SP-350, 1975.

You could see the flames and the outer skin of the spacecraft glowing; and burning, baseball-size chunks flying off behind us. It was an eerie feeling, like being a gnat inside a blowtorch flame.

  — Bill Anders, regards lift-off of the Saturn V, undated quotation credited by the International Space Hall of Fame.

It was a thunderingly beautiful experience — voluptuous, sexual, dangerous, and expensive as hell.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Playboy magazine interview, regards the Apollo launches, July 1973.

The vehicle explodes, literally explodes, off the pad. The simulator shakes you a little bit, but the actual liftoff shakes your entire body and soul.

— Mike McCulley, Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years, 2002.

There were two dawns that morning. One the orderly sunrise of God, followed by man's fireball at the base of that rocket.

— Gordon Baxter, recalling the Saturn V rocket launch of Apollo 11. Flying magazine, July 1989.

We're all aware that for over 200 years and certainly over the last two months, freedom rings loud and clear across this country — but right here and right now, it's time to let freedom roar!

— Dom Gorie, commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour, just before engine ignition for mission STS-108, 5 Dec 2001.

The only thing I've experienced that could compare to the launch in terms of raw power was the Loma Prieta earthquake.

— Loren Acton, Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years, 2002.

A spacecraft is a metaphor of national inspiration: majestic, technologically advanced, produced at dear cost and entrusted with precious cargo, rising above the constraints of the earth. The spacecraft carries our secret hope that there is something better out there — a world where we may someday go and leave the sorrows of the past behind. The spacecraft rises toward the heavens exactly as, in our finest moments as a nation, our hearts have risen toward justice and principle.

— Greg Easterbrook, 'The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped,' Time magazine, 2 February 2003.

If offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.

— Christa McAuliffe, she repeated this line several times on TV talk shows after been chosen as the first teacher in space, 1985. Said by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to be the best career advice she ever received (speech to the graduating class of Harvard Business School 2012 and her book Lean In), told to her (without the McAuliffe citation) by Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, in 2001.

The rockets light! The shuttle leaps off the launch pad in a cloud of steam and a trail of fire.

— Sally Ride, To Space and Back, 1986.

we’ll not be sending anyone into space before it is safe and the vehicle is well and truly tested.

— Richard Branson, regards Virgin Galactic, Condé Nast Traveler magazine, March 2010.

This kid didn't give up. I’ve been waiting since '61 to get there, and I’m going.

— Wally Funk, denied a chance to fly into space at the time of the Mercury program because she's a woman, regards taking a ride on Virgin Galactic. Quoted in AdAstra magazine, Summer 2013.

It's just mind-blowingly awesome. I apologize, and I wish I was more articulate, but it's hard to be articulate when your mind's blown — but in a very good way.

— Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, regards the return of the Dragon capsule, the first time a privately developed spacecraft has been recovered safely on its return from low-Earth orbit. Reported by BBC news. 8 December 2010.

I’ve always wanted to be part of something that would radically change the world… . People forget the power of inspiration. All of humanity went to the moon with the Apollo missions. The issue was cost. There was no chance to build a base and create frequent flights. That's the problem I would like to solve.

— Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, 2-8 May 2011, page 76.

Everything looks nonsensical before it works.

— Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne, regards an experienced aerodynamicist who contacted him and said the design wouldn — t work. Remarks at Oshkosh AirVenture 2011.

Not the outcome any of us wanted.

— Jeffrey Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, regards the crash of a company rocket that had reached 45,000 feet and 1.2 Mach. 2 September 2011.

There are a thousand things that can happen when you go light a rocket engine, and only one of them is good.

— Tom Mueller, SpaceX propulsion chief, Air and Space magazine article, January 2012

That to me is a bunch of crap trying to shoot guys up into damned space. What they’re going to do is they’re going to wipe out half a dozen people one of these days, and that will be the end of it.

— Chuck Yeager, thoughts on Burt Rutan's private spacecraft, CNN interview 5 June 2012.

It seems insane — so violent and loud. It's audacious that you would even think such a thing.

— Dan Winters, rocket photographer, regards launches. Wired magazine, January 2014.

I realized that a methane-oxygen rocket engine could achieve a specific impulse greater than 380.

— Elon Musk, SpaceX, 2 a.m. eureka! moment. It's the physics/chemistry key to travel to Mars & return. Quoted in Fortune magazine, 9 December 2013.

It sounded like a very loud vacuum cleaner behind us.

— David Mackay, chief pilot Virgin Galactic, describing the experience of flying the rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo. Interview in the New York Times, 12 May 2014.

You can just reload, propel it and fly again. This is extremely important for revolutionizing access to space because as long as we continue to throw away rockets and space crafts, we will never truly have access to space.

— Elon Musk, SpaceX, revealing the 7 persoon Dragon V2 spacecraft, 29 May 2014.

Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together.

— Richard Branson, tweet following the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two crash. 31 October 2014.



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