Overview

Aerospace science consists of the study and applications of ideas involving the atmosphere and/or space. These applications will involve the mechanical engineering of aircraft and spacecraft as well as the components, materials, and equipment that is utilized in the production and operation of the vehicles.

The term aerospace evolved from the word ‘Aeronautics’ and ‘Space’ during the 1950’s with the introduction of the first space flights.

History

Aviation reflect's humankind's extensive efforts to fly like birds, which has been a strong desire throughout history. Roger Bacon made an aircraft design in around 1250, although it is Leonardo da Vinci who is considered to have been the first person to design a flyable aircraft, with a glider plane designed in the 15th century. Emanuel Swedenborg was the first to publish a report on aviation design with Sketch of a Machine for Flying in the Air in 1714, which was a basis for the modern airplane.

The first humans to actually fly are thought to be Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois d'Arlandes of France who flew 8km into the air in a hot air balloon invented by brothers Joseph Montgolfier and Jacques Montgolfier. In 1899 Ferdinand von Zeppelin was constructing the first Zeppelin dirigible and it flew for 18 minutes on July 2 1900. However, it was the achievements of brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright who are seen as the most influential in aviation history. Following the idea of Otto Lilienthal in the 19th century to jump before flying, Orville Wright successfully made the first controlled powered flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.

During the 20th century there were dramatic advances in aircraft technology. They were used in World War I and became an essential military asset during World War II. Following the disastrous Zeppelin Hindenburg fire in 1937, airplanes became more desirable to fly than dirigibles and aluminium replaced wood and canvas as the material of choice for building aircraft. Commercial Aviation began after World War II with military aircraft being purchased by major airlines and the Boeing 747 making air travel even more popular. The 1957 Sputnik 1 launch by the Soviet Union began the space race as part of the Cold War that lead to significant advances in space aviation, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot on the moon in 1969.