Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

March 2, 1996

Von Braun's Wheel
Credit: MSFC Historical Archives

Explanation: Orbiting 1,075 miles above the Earth, a 250 foot wide, inflated, reinforced nylon "wheel" was conceived in the early 1950s to function as a navigational aid, meteorological station, military platform, and way station for space exploration by rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun. The wheel shaped station could be easily rotated creating artificial gravity so that the astronauts would not suffer the effects of prolonged weightlessness. Von Braun and his team favoured building a permanently occupied Earth orbiting space station from which to stage a lunar exploration program. But in the 1960s NASA adopted the Apollo Program, which called for astronauts to transfer to a lunar landing vehicle after achieving lunar orbit, bypassing the construction of von Braun's wheel.

Tomorrow's picture: Uranus' Moon Ariel: Valley World

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.