Space Rocket History

The history of rocketry and space exploration.


By Michael Annis

https://www.spacerockethistory.com

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Space Rocket History #398 – Skylab – The Astronauts Part 3 – Kerwin & Lousma

September 22, 2022

“Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you.” Joe Kerwin

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Space Rocket History #397 – Skylab – The Astronauts Part 2 – Garriott & Gibson

September 07, 2022

“I started out being president of my first grade class, two years in a row.” Ed Gibson

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Space Rocket History #396 – Skylab – The Astronauts Part 1

August 25, 2022

“Pete wanted to do Skylab and we both felt that we did not want the moon program to get crowded, other people deserved chances too.” Al Bean

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Space Rocket History #395 – Skylab – The Tour Part 2

August 10, 2022

Skylab had three bedrooms or sleep compartments, one for each astronaut aboard.  To save space, the beds were arranged vertically in the quarters. 

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Space Rocket History #394 – Skylab – The Tour Part 1

July 27, 2022

As a crew would approach Skylab in their Apollo Command Module, they would see its docking port that was called the Multiple Docking Adapter or MDA. 

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Space Rocket History #393 – Skylab – Soyuz Mission

July 13, 2022

During 1970-1972, a possible fourth “new” docking mission with Skylab was considered. This new mission would not be just another Apollo docking, instead it was a radically different idea. 

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Space Rocket History #392 – Skylab – Let’s Call it Skylab

June 29, 2022

On February 1970, Nasa announced that the AAP had been renamed.  America’s first space station would enter the history books as Skylab.

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Space Rocket History #391 – Skylab – Pre-history – Apollo Applications Program

June 15, 2022

The Apollo Applications Program (AAP) was created in 1966 by NASA headquarters to develop science-based human spaceflight missions using hardware developed for the Apollo program.

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Space Rocket History #390 – Skylab – Pre-history – MOL Part 4 & Extending Apollo

June 01, 2022

On June 7th 1969, General Stewart ordered all work on Gemini B, the Titan IIIM and the MOL spacesuit, to cease and to cancel or curtail all other contracts. The official announcement that the MOL had been canceled was made … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #389 – Skylab – Pre-history – MOL Part 3

May 18, 2022

A planning document depicted 12-man and 40-man stations, both with self-defense capability. It described the 40-man, Y-shaped station as a “spaceborne command post” in synchronous orbit. The key requirement was “post attack survivability”, the station would be capable of “Strategic/tactical … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #388 – Skylab – Pre-history – MOL Part 2

May 04, 2022

Strangely enough the MOL astronauts only knew of the cover story that the program would be a space laboratory for military experiments and did not learn of the reconnaissance role until after selection.

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Space Rocket History #387 – Skylab – Pre-history – Dyna-Soar & MOL

April 20, 2022

NASA feasibility studies determined that a research space laboratory could be placed in orbit by 1967. However, to fund such a project it had to be justified by achieving a national goal, or an important science goal, or test of … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #386 – Skylab – Pre-history

April 06, 2022

A scant five months after Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean in December of 1972, NASA launched Skylab to begin a new phase of American manned spaceflight – space station operations.

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Space Rocket History #385 – Copernicus (OAO-3), SAS-2, Venera 8, Luna 20 & 21, and Explorer 49

March 23, 2022

Once its antennas were deployed, Explorer 49 was the largest human-made object to orbit the Moon as of 2022.  

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Space Rocket History #384 – Pioneer 10

March 09, 2022

Launched in 1972 and weighing 258 kilograms (569 pounds), Pioneer 10 completed the first mission to the planet Jupiter and became the first of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave the Solar System.  

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Space Rocket History #383 – Ariel 4, Prospero X-3, Shinsei, Isis-2, And Our 9th Anniversary

February 23, 2022

“The UK 4 (United Kingdom Research Satellite 4), a.k.a. Ariel 4, was a small observatory designed to investigate the interactions between electromagnetic waves, plasmas, and energetic particles present in the upper ionosphere.” Wikipedia            

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Space Rocket History #382 – Mars 2 & 3 and Luna 18 & 19

February 09, 2022

This is how Deputy Chief Designer for OKB-1, Boris Chertok described the launch of Mars 3. “The red disk of the Sun was just touching the horizon and dramatically illuminated the rocket as it lifted off with a roar. Separation … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #381 – Mariner 8 & 9

January 26, 2022

Mariner 8 and 9 were virtually identical and designed to continue the atmospheric studies begun by Mariner 6 and 7, and to hopefully map over 70% of the Martian surface.

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Space Rocket History #380 – Apollo 17 – The Finale

January 12, 2022

The Apollo 17 mission was the most productive and trouble-free piloted mission to the moon and represented the culmination of continual advancements in hardware, procedures, training, planning, operations, and scientific experiments.

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Space Rocket History #379 – Apollo 17 – Lunar Lift off, Docking & Orbital Science

December 22, 2021

At 4:56 Houston time, Gene rested the tip of his left index finger on the yellow ignition button.  

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Space Rocket History #378 – Apollo 17 – Moonwalk 3 – The Last Steps on the Moon

December 08, 2021

“As we leave the Moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo Seventeen.” – Gene Cernan’s final words from the surface of … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #377 – Apollo 17 – Moonwalk 1 & 2 – Orange Soil

November 24, 2021

“How can there be orange soil on the Moon?! (Pause) Jack, that is really orange.” Gene Cernan

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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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