Rocket Science 101 is a free, interactive NASA iPad app app that lets youngsters construct and launch digital area missions utilizing rockets utilized by NASA and its industrial companions. Its strategy is extra experiential than instructional: Fairly than explaining about rocket propulsion and design (which is perhaps a bit superior for a lot of youngsters in its meant 7-11 age group), it lets the kids select and assemble a digital spacecraft and launch it into orbit. It could be a bit simplistic for older youngsters, and even on missions to Mars or Jupiter, your rocket does not fly any farther than Earth orbit, however it’s nonetheless enjoyable and informative. And as soon as you’ve got launched your mission, a hyperlink takes you to video displaying the precise launch.

Design and Options

Rocket Science 101 is easy to make use of and to navigate. If you launch the app, a display screen displaying the app’s emblem briefly seems, adopted by a web page that asks you to “select your ability [level].” The three ranges, or sections, supplied are Have Enjoyable, Problem Your self, and Rocket “Scientist.” Inside a bit, navigation is self-explanatory, with fundamental written directions and arrows pointing your manner. On the highest of the display screen are Again, House, and Assist buttons. The Assist perform exhibits you learn how to use your fingers to faucet, swipe, drag, or pinch your manner across the display screen, and gives a hyperlink to credit. NASA’s Launch Companies Program was concerned within the app’s creation.

Rocket Science 101 is suitable with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod contact. I examined it utilizing an Apple iPad Air 2 operating iOS 10.2.

T Minus 10 Seconds and Counting

The primary part, known as Have Enjoyable, lets budding younger astronauts choose, assemble, and launch a digital rocket, first by choosing a rocket, dragging its parts from a thumbnail bar on the display screen’s proper edge to their correct positions inside the rocket, after which “launching” their creations and following their flight into Earth orbit. The rockets embrace the Atlas V, utilized in many NASA deep-space missions, in addition to fashions from the area company’s new industrial companions: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the Antares from Orbital ATK. 5 are typical rockets whereas the sixth, the Pegasus, is carried aloft beneath a modified airliner and dropped at 39,00zero toes, after which it fires its engines. I used to be a bit of disillusioned that some “classical” rockets utilized in crewed missions corresponding to Apollo’s Saturn V and the Area Shuttle weren’t included. (The Atlas V might ultimately be used for crewed missions to the Worldwide Area Station.)

This primary stage is fairly forgiving: There are not more than 4 components to put in any rocket, and when you place a component wherever close to the place it is presupposed to go, it’s going to pop into place. If you cannot be bothered with dragging the components, urgent an Auto Construct button in a yellow field on the prime of the display screen will add a component, and you may carry on urgent it till the rocket is full. As soon as it’s prepared, a inexperienced Launch button seems to the rocket’s left, on the backside of the display screen. Urgent it has predictable outcomes: After a 10-second countdown, your creation will take to the digital skies of your iPad’s display screen, climbing vertically after which tilting in the direction of the horizontal because it approaches orbit, with panels being jettisoned and phases falling away at designated instances. As soon as the flight is full, you may replay it, or by hitting a Launch Video button, view a YouTube video of the particular launch (which is able to take you out of the app).

Missions Potential

The second part, Problem Your self, enables you to fly a historic (digital) mission by choosing a spacecraft and booster rocket, after which assembling the craft by dragging components of the rocket into their correct place in a cutaway view of the rocket. In case you put a component within the fallacious place, it is going to be rejected, and you will have to pull and attempt to place it once more. Every time you spotlight a component, a short textual description of it and its perform seems within the display screen’s higher left nook. That is actually the sum of Rocket Science 101’s schooling; it does not systematically focus on how rockets work, as you would possibly anticipate from the title.

Rocket Science 101 (for iPad)

The app contains 10 missions, each well-known (the Kepler planet-hunting telescope, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which landed the Curiosity rover on the Purple Planet, and the Juno mission that is presently orbiting Jupiter) and obscure (IBEX and NuStar). It additionally contains SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus unmanned resupply missions to the Worldwide Area Station. They’re powered by the identical booster rockets we noticed within the first part.

I attempted a number of of those missions, together with my favourite, Kepler. One disappointing factor is that even with the deep-space and planetary missions, these digital missions do not go any farther than Earth orbit. One other factor is that many of the launches appear very comparable, and so they may simply get monotonous. A saving grace is that, as soon as once more, you may view the actual launch video on YouTube.

The third part, Rocket Scientist, is just like the second—even together with the identical missions—however now you must assemble the rocket from 15 components, some acquainted, however a number of of them obscure (suppose spin desk or prolonged air-lit nozzle), even to many grownup area geeks. Happily, tapping every half brings up a textual description of what it does. In case you do get stumped on a component’s location, you may make use of the Auto Construct mode mentioned earlier.


Rocket Science 101 is not actually a course on rocket science in that it does not educate how rockets work, though it gives transient descriptions of their parts. Maybe befitting the younger viewers for which it’s meant, it is extra of an interactive playground that lets youngsters assemble spacecraft from digital components and launch them into orbit. There may be sufficient of a sameness to many of the launches they might get tiresome after some time, and even the Juno Jupiter mission and the Mars Science Laboratory do not go any farther than Earth’s orbit. That stated, this free NASA app needs to be a enjoyable, experiential introduction to rocketry for youngsters, and it gives hyperlinks to movies of the particular launches.