Space Rocket History

The history of rocketry and space exploration.


By Michael Annis

https://www.spacerockethistory.com

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Space Rocket History #376 – Apollo 17 – Moonwalk 1

November 10, 2021

Gene Cernan’s first words were “As I step off at the surface of Taurus-Littrow, I’d like to dedicate the first steps of Apollo Seventeen to all those who made it possible.”  

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Space Rocket History #375 – Apollo 17 – The Last Manned Landing

October 27, 2021

Gene had a deadlock visual on the landing site. He knew exactly where he was, and the LM had become part of him, responding to his wishes as well as his touch on the controls as they lowered closer to

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Space Rocket History #374 – Apollo 17 – To the Moon

October 13, 2021

For the next two days, Jack Schmitt would do a running account of Earth’s weather patterns. One Capcom even called Schmitt the human weather satellite.      

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Space Rocket History #373 – Apollo 17 – The Launch

September 29, 2021

At 12:33 A.M. Dec. 7th 1972, “the hold-down arms released and the mighty Saturn V stirred, balanced on a dazzling fireball that grew to the size of an atomic bomb. As a show-stopping spectacular, noth

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Space Rocket History #372 – Apollo 17 – Glitches

September 15, 2021

By the time they reached the elevator, Cernan felt absolutely charmed, and was grinning from ear to ear. His Saturn V sparkled like a 363-foot-high jewel rampant against the night sky, center stage an

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Space Rocket History #371 – Apollo 17 – Commander Eugene Cernan

September 01, 2021

Flight director Gene Kranz wrote that Cernan was his favorite because of his carefree and jovial attitude, unabashed patriotism, and his close personal relationship with the flight controllers. 

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Space Rocket History #370 – Apollo 17 – Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt

August 18, 2021

Harrison Schmitt played a key role in training Apollo crews to be geologic observers when they were in lunar orbit and competent geologic field workers when they were on the lunar surface. After each

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Space Rocket History #369 – Apollo 17 – Mankind’s Last Giant Leap

August 04, 2021

Apollo 17 would break several crewed spaceflight records: 1) longest moon mission duration: 12 days 13 hours 52 minutes (just a day and a third shorter than the 14 days set in 1965 by Gemini 7), 2) lo

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Space Rocket History #368 – Apollo 16 – Splashdown

July 21, 2021

On re-entry Casper hit the atmosphere at an altitude of about 400,000 feet above the earth and at a velocity of nearly 25,000 miles per hour. 

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Space Rocket History #367 – Apollo 16 – Rendezvous, Docking, Ascent Stage Dump, Ken’s EVA and Lord of the Wedding Rings

June 23, 2021

The LM eventually crashed due to lunar gravity anomalies. Since Houston didn’t know exactly where it landed, it was not useful to calibrate seismic experiments on the surface. 

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Space Rocket History #366 – Apollo 16 – Moonwalk 3, Lunar Olympics & Lift-off From the Moon

June 09, 2021

It was the only time in their whole lunar stay that Charlie had a real moment of panic and thought he had killed himself.

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Space Rocket History #365 – Apollo 16 – Moonwalk 2 & 3 – “The Big Sneak”

May 26, 2021

The crew nicknamed this operation “The Big Sneak.” They figured the only way to do this was to approach from behind a big rock, then reach over and collect the sample.

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Space Rocket History #364 – Apollo 16 – Moonwalk 2 – Evidence of Water

May 12, 2021

John and Charlie also collected several rusty-looking rocks with brown stains on their surfaces. These were exciting finds because the rusty appearance suggested the presence of hydrated oxides of iro

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Space Rocket History #351 – Apollo 15 – First Deep Space EVA and Splashdown

November 04, 2020

As the red smoke cleared, Al saw widening holes in one of their parachutes, collapsing it into a useless strip of cloth. “We’ve got a streamer on one,” Al reported.

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Space Rocket History #350 – Apollo 15 – Lunar Liftoff, Rendezvous and Docking – Tang Ceremony

October 21, 2020

On Hadley Plain, at 171:37 GET, right on schedule, Falcon’s engine lit, hurling the ascent stage upward in an impressive flurry of dust and debris, captured for the first time on camera and transmitted live to a world-wide audience.

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Space Rocket History #349 – Apollo 15 – Meanwhile on Endeavour

October 07, 2020

After being cooped up together so closely with his fellow astronauts inside Endeavor, Worden enjoyed stretching out for his solo flight.  Now he really got to fly.

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Space Rocket History #348 – Apollo 15 – Traverse 3

September 23, 2020

“We pray for one last landingOn the globe that gave us birth;Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skiesAnd the cool, green hills of Earth.” Robert A. Heinlein

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Space Rocket History #347 – Apollo 15 – Traverse 2-Part 2 – The Genesis Rock

September 09, 2020

Both men realized what they had discovered. The rock was almost entirely plagioclase. This was surely a chunk of anorthosite, a piece of the primordial crust, the Genesis Rock.

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Space Rocket History #346 – Apollo 15 – Traverse 2-Part 1

August 26, 2020

Suddenly, Scott called out that the Rover was beginning to slide down the hill.  As the back wheels came off the ground, Scott quickly got back on to hold the rover down.

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Space Rocket History #345 – Apollo 15 – The Lunar Rover & Traverse 1

August 12, 2020

The whole stripped-down rover weighed about 455 pounds on Earth but only 76 pounds on the moon and was built to carry 2 1/2 times its weight at a maximum speed of about 10 miles per hour.

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Space Rocket History #344 – Apollo 15 – Oxygen Leak, Glass Ball, First Steps & The Lunar Rover

July 29, 2020

After a good nights sleep, Houston woke the astronauts up an hour early the next morning because of a slight oxygen leak.

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Space Rocket History #343 – Apollo 15 – Falcon on the Moon

July 15, 2020

It was immediately clear that Falcon had landed on uneven ground, right on the rim of a small crater; the LM was tipped backward at a slight angle. It turned out that one of the rear feet had landed in … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #342 – Apollo 15 – Lunar Orbit & Landing

July 01, 2020

Craning to look through the triangular window for a glimpse of the land ahead, Scott saw no sign of Hadley Rille.

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Space Rocket History #341 – Apollo 15 – Serious Problems

June 17, 2020

The SPS engine was used for all the future burns.   It was the astronauts ticket home.  Any doubt as to whether it could fire raised the question as to whether the mission could continue.

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Space Rocket History #340 – Apollo 15 – Climb to Orbit

June 03, 2020

For Scott all feelings were forgotten. All senses except sight were subordinated. All Scott’s concentration was focused on hearing information from Irwin, Worden and Mission Control about the status of the spacecraft and the Saturn V.

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Space Rocket History #339 – Apollo 15 – The Launch

May 20, 2020

The last face they saw was Guenter’s, smiling and waving an enormous crescent wrench. Then the heavy hatch closed with a deep thunk.

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Space Rocket History #338 – Apollo 15 – CDR Dave Scott Part 2 & The Postal Covers Incident

May 06, 2020

As Command Module Pilot for Apollo 9, Scott’s responsibilities were heavy. The Lunar Module was to separate from the Command and Service Module during the mission; if it failed to return, Scott would have to run the entire spacecraft for … Continue rea...

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Space Rocket History #337 – Apollo 15 – LMP Jim Irwin & CDR Dave Scott

April 22, 2020

Dave Scott showed incredible presence of mind during the unexpected events of the Gemini 8 mission. Even in the middle of an emergency, out of contact with Mission Control, he had thought to reenable ground control of the Agena before … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #336 – Apollo 15 – Introduction, Crew Selection & CMP Al Worden

April 08, 2020

The twelve day Apollo 15 mission was scheduled to launch on July 26, 1971.  It would be the fourth United States human exploration of the Moon. As compared with earlier missions, Apollo 15 would double the time and extend by … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #335 – Impacts of Soyuz 11 on Future Soyuz, Salyut-1 & Apollo

March 25, 2020

It was decided that henceforth, cosmonauts would wear pressure suits for launch and the return to Earth. Also, a system was installed to automatically pump air into the descent module in the event of decompression.  Additionally,

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Space Rocket History #334 – Soyuz 11 – Death in Space

March 11, 2020

The recovery team quickly opened the hatch and were shocked to find the men motionless, as if asleep or unconscious.

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Space Rocket History #333 – Soyuz 11 – Downfall & N1 Update

February 26, 2020

Volkov transmitted to Flight Control: “The hatch is not hermetically sealed! … What can we do? … What can we do?”

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Space Rocket History #332 – Soyuz 11/Salyut 1 – The Fire & SRH 7th Year Celebration

February 12, 2020

Just before the start of another communication session, Volkov noticed a smell of smoke from somewhere at the rear of the station. As soon as communication with the ground was established, he reported:  “Aboard the station is ‘the curtain’!”

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Space Rocket History #331 – Soyuz 11/Salyut 1 – Life Aboard the First Space Station

January 29, 2020

Dobrovolsky wrote in his diary, “Some days were a nightmare. There was a general absence of everything: no interesting things, no happiness, the monotonous sound of the ventilators, strong smells, numerous experiments.

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Space Rocket History #330 – Soyuz 11/Salyut 1 – What’s That Smell?

January 15, 2020

Volkov radioed “Zarya, wait! Yantar 3 is in Soyuz. Don’t start until Yantar 3 has returned to the Salyut! There is a strong smell in Salyut! He will put on a mask and go in again!”

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Space Rocket History #329 – Soyuz 11 – The Replacement Crew – Dobrovolsky, Volkov, and Patsayev – Part 2

January 01, 2020

“I am proud to have been involved in the Vostok spacecraft which carried Gagarin on the first manned space flight and in its modification for Voskhod.” Volkov

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Space Rocket History #328 – Soyuz 11 – The Replacement Crew – Dobrovolsky, Volkov, and Patsayev – Part 1

December 19, 2019

Dobrovolsky was blond, tall, broad-shouldered, and tough. He was kind-hearted and had a contagious belly laugh. At the Air Force school, his friends nicknamed him `Odessa’, and he was proud of it. 

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Space Rocket History #327 – Soyuz 11 – The Prime Crew

December 12, 2019

On May 4th, 1971 the prime crew of Soyuz 11 was confirmed to be Leonov, Commander; Kubusov, Flight Engineer; and Kolodin, Research Engineer. Their assignment was to spend between 30 and 45 days on board Salyut 1.

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Space Rocket History #326 – Soyuz 10 – Undocking and Re-entry

December 05, 2019

… There was no provision for the possibility of undocking if the entire docking cycle had not been executed …

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Space Rocket History #325 – Soyuz 10 – Docking with Salyut 1

November 28, 2019

“They can’t approach at that rate,” fretted Mishin. “Why aren’t you doing anything? Tell the crew what to do!” “We don’t need to do anything; deceleration will begin now,” Rauschenbach reassured Mishin.

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Space Rocket History #324 – Soyuz 10 with Shatalov, Yeliseyev and Rukavishnikov

November 21, 2019

The objective of the Soyuz 10 mission was to deliver and return to earth the first crew of Salyut 1.  The Soyuz was to hard dock with Salyut 1 and then the crew was to transfer internally to the station. … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #323 – Salyut 1

November 13, 2019

In record time, the OKB-1 rebels led by Yuri Semenov developed the space station designated DOS-7K. The station used the body of a vehicle from the Almaz project, but outfitted it with modified systems from the Soyuz spacecraft.

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50th Anniversary Special – An Encore Presentation of Space Rocket History #224 – Apollo 11 – Moonwalk – Part 2 – One Priceless Moment

November 07, 2019

“For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this earth are truly one. One in their pride in what you have done. And one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth” … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #322 – Apollo 14 – Recovery & Conclusion

October 30, 2019

Alan Shepard’s wife Louise was elated after watching on TV as Shepard boarded a Navy ship bound for Houston, where he would be safe behind the glass windows of the post-flight quarantine room.

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Space Rocket History #321 – Apollo 14 – Splashdown

October 23, 2019

Gradually, as Mitchell worked and glanced at the bright crescent, he was filled with a quiet euphoria, great tranquillity, and an overpowering sense of understanding. It was as if he had suddenly begun to hear a new language,

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Space Rocket History #320 – Apollo 14 – Docking & Alexei Leonov

October 16, 2019

Would the docking probe that caused so much difficulty a week ago during the first docking work now or would Shepard and Mitchell be forced into a space walk in Lunar orbit?

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Space Rocket History #319 – Apollo 14 – Lunar Lift-off

October 09, 2019

141:45:30 Shepard: Okay. The abort stage is set. Ascent Engine is Armed. 6, 5, 4… 141:45:38 Mitchell: Proceed with the ignition program 141:45:38 Shepard: …3, 2, 1, 0… 141:45:42 Mitchell: Ignition. 141:45:43 Shepard: We have ignition… 141:45:44 Mitchel...

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Space Rocket History #318 – Apollo 14 – Moonwalk 2 – Part 2 – How about a round of golf?

October 02, 2019

“It was terribly, terribly frustrating; coming up over that ridge that we were going up, and thinking, finally, that was it; and it wasn’t – suddenly recognizing that, really, you just don’t know where you are.” Ed Mitchell

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50th Anniversary Special – An Encore Presentation of Space Rocket History #223 – Apollo 11 – Moonwalk – Part 1

September 25, 2019

Silently and carefully, Armstrong raised his left boot over the lip of the footpad and lowered it to the dust. Immediately he tested his weight, bouncing in the gentle gravity, and when he felt firm ground, he was still, one … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #317 – Apollo 14 – Moonwalk 2 – Part 1 – The Rim of Cone Crater

September 18, 2019

The majority of the second moonwalk was dedicated to reaching the rim of Cone Crater.  The wide, deep geological gold mine, which scientists believed was actually the remains of an ancient volcano.

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