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Voyagers 1 and 2: Forty Years and Still Going (Even If Not So Strong)
8/20/2017

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Figure 1
The concept of the paired Voyager spacecraft mission was to undertake a grand tour of the four large planets, a trajectory made possible due to a rare planetary alignment worked out by complex astrophysics 'mechanics.' (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL)

The concept of the paired Voyager spacecraft mission was to undertake a grand tour of the four large planets, a trajectory made possible due to a rare planetary alignment worked out by complex astrophysics “mechanics.” (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL)

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Jay Gallentine
Jay Gallentine
9/12/2017 11:11:52 AM
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Voyager and Minovitch
While Gary Flandro certainly did not come up with the gravity-assist concept, he should definitely be credited with discovering the Voyager Grand Tour opportunity. Mike Minovitch had nothing whatsoever to do with the Grand Tour, or Voyager. While Minovitch certainly calculated multi-planet spacecraft trajectories, he was absolutely not the first to do so. The technique was already well-understood long before he started work at JPL. Krafft Ehricke was lecturing about it at UCLA as early as 1959. Minovitch merely came up with his own method. I would really encourage the author of this article to consider sources other than those created only by Minovitch.

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Bill_Jaffa
Bill_Jaffa
8/24/2017 9:34:11 PM
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Video on Voyagers
Our local PBS station just broadcast and also posted this 2-hr documentary on Voyager:

http://www.wgbh.org/programs/programDetail.cfm?programid=3670#71565

(Not sure how long the link will be good, they sometimes delete them after some intermediate period. )

I thought the documentary was only"OK"--very little on the mission conception, design, or engineering, too much on the "golden record" (of course) and the journey, IMO, but seeing interviews with the project people was interesting!

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Bill_Jaffa
Bill_Jaffa
8/20/2017 9:52:35 PM
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The equations are intense!
To get a sense of complexity of the "mechanics" of astrophysics, orbit calculations, moving bodies, guidance issues, and space-travel planning, take a look at the classic work "An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics" by Richard H. Battin of MIT and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. Not only is it fascinating even if you can only follow part of it, but it is sobering to see how much of today's equations and analysis effort depends on work of mathematicians of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the ancient Greeks. Many of the mathematical-analysis issues we face today were recognized and solved by those folks—it's very humbling to realize that they did it all by hand, no calculators, no computers, no copying machines, nothing.

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