Space technology

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Space technology, encompassing rockets and satellites, has evolved significantly since its theoretical inception in the early 1930s. This field experienced rapid growth and development, particularly due to advancements in rocket technology and satellite systems. A defining point in space technology development was the launch of Quetzalcoatl-1, the first manmade satellite to orbit Earth.


Dawn of Rocketry

The foundation for modern rocketry and space technology was established in the early 1930s, driven by the visionary work of Tuscan philosopher and scientist Ignacio Bellini. In his 1934 paper, Principi di Spazio, Bellini outlined fundamental concepts for space exploration using rockets, including a detailed mathematical analysis known as the "rocket equation." His theories on rockets and the idea of human-made satellites orbiting Earth were revolutionary for the time, extending to speculations about human travel to other planets.

Early contributions

The 1940s saw significant experimentation with Bellini's theories in institutions such as the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. Alistair McGregor, a physicist at Imperial, made breakthroughs in understanding the role of aerodynamics in rocketry. In 1947, he developed a primitive rocket prototype known as the "McGregor rocket", demonstrating the practical application of Bellini's concepts. Following this, Ernest Langford, also from Imperial, investigated the potential of man-made satellites for earth observation and communication in the early 1950s. He advocated for the use of rockets in satellite deployment. However, despite these advancements, the British government's focus on using rocketry primarily for weapon delivery limited further development in space exploration.

The rocket age

Albion, the first rocket to leave Earth's atmosphere

In the mid-to-late 1950s, the primary focus of rocket development shifted toward weaponry, with Britain and Russia developing transcontinental rockets, and later, longer-range transatmospheric rockets. Although there was interest in space exploration, it was largely overshadowed by government priorities centered on defense. In the 1960s, the deployment of these rockets by Russia and Britain on a global scale escalated tensions in their ongoing geopolitical rivalry.

International pioneers of space research in the 1960s

As the proliferation of rocket technology became global, the 1960s witnessed an renewed and expanded global interest in space research. In the Americas, the University of New Amsterdam in New Netherland became a leading center for space technology research, thanks to contributions from scientists like Adelheyd du Trieux and Roeloff Aeertz. Du Trieux's studied cosmic radiation and its effects on communication signals, while Aeertz studied satellite propulsion systems, building upon Langford's earlier work to improve satellite operational efficiency and reliability.

At the National University of Mexico, Carlos Ramírez played a key role in the advancement of materials science, studying and enhancing thermal regulation in rocket and satellite technology.

In China, Weyliang Cen of Ćinghwa University led research in stellonavigation systems, working on improving the accuracy of satellite orbit predictions. His work established Ćinghwa University as a notable contributor to the field of space navigation.

The space race

ANAN's strategic initiative

In response to Britain's deployment of transcontinental rockets near the American continent in the late 1960s, the Association of North American Nations (ANAN) recognized the need to strengthen their rocketry and space research capabilities. As a result, in 1969, ANAN allocated funding for space and rocketry research to several universities in New Netherland and Mexico, aiming to enhance their scientific presence globally.

Recruitment of top scientists

To help advance their goals, ANAN also recruited top British scientists Ernest Langford and Alistair McGregor in 1970. ANAN offered them substantial funding, state-of-the-art research facilities at the University of New Amsterdam, and the promise of academic freedom, along with collaboration opportunities with leading Amerikaner space technology experts like du Trieux and Aeertz.

Formation of the American Rocketry Commission (1972)

Logo of the ARC

In 1972, the Association of North American Nations (ANAN) formed the American Rocketry Commission (ARC) to centralize and coordinate its space research initiatives. Although technically a branch of the ANAN Military Commission (ANANMC), the ARC operated with a degree of autonomy, fostering partnerships with educational institutions and engineering firms. Roeloff Aeertz was appointed as the chief architect of the ARC.

Quetzalcoatl-1: the first man-made satellite


The newly formed ARC embarked on an ambitious mission to launch the first man-made satellite, Quetzalcoatl, within three years. This multidisciplinary project brought together the top specialists in space technology. Under the leadership of Roeloff Aeertz, the effort was divided into two primary teams: the rocketry team, responsible for the launch vehicle, and the satellite team, tasked with satellite development. Aeertz himself headed the rocketry team, focusing on the creation of a modified transatmospheric rocket to deliver the satellite. The satellite team was co-led by du Trieux and Langford, with Carlos Ramirez contributing his expertise in materials science.

However, the project encountered setbacks, particularly in the satellite's development. The initial design, which included an array of instruments, proved too heavy and failed early prototype testing. This issue led to a postponement of the planned 1975 launch. The satellite team accelerated efforts to miniaturize and simplify the satellite, which was finished by 1978.

The Atahensic, a TCR carrying Quetzalcoatl-1

Finally, in 1978, Quetzalcoatl-1 was successfully launched from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The satellite was propelled into space aboard the transatmospheric rocket Atahensic. Quetzalcoatl-1 was positioned in low-earth orbit, equipped with state-of-the-art solar panels for power, a cosmic ray detector, and instruments to determine the upper atmosphere's pressure and composition. Its successful deployment marked a significant milestone in space exploration, signifying ANAN's emergence as a major player in the field of space technology.

Global reaction

In response to the successful launch, Britain adopted a stance of cautious observation, carefully monitoring ANAN's advancements in space technology. Britain then did an internal assessment on their space research capabilities. In Russia, a similar watchful attitude emerged, but with extra suspicion due to escalating tensions with ANAN over Alyeska. Russian officials were particularly apprehensive about the possibility of ANAN deploying space-based weapons, which could shift the global balance of power.

China, on the other hand, took a more openly collaborative approach. The Chinese government extended congratulations to ANAN on their space mission, expressing enthusiasm for potential future collaborations.

See also