Space Rocket History

The history of rocketry and space exploration.


By Michael Annis

https://www.spacerockethistory.com

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Space Rocket History #442 – Salyut 4 – Soyuz 17 with Gubarev & Grechko

July 05, 2024

The crew of Soyuz 17 embarked on a historic 29-day mission, surpassing the previous Soviet mission-duration record of 23 days set by the Soyuz 11 crew aboard Salyut 1 in 1971.

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Space Rocket History #441 – Salyut 4

June 15, 2024

The Salyut 4 space station, designated DOS-4, marked the second phase of the Soviet Union’s civilian space station program. It was an improved version of the failed Salyut 2 station, with several notable enhancements.  

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Space Rocket History #440 – Salyut 3 – Soyuz 14 & Soyuz 15 Part 2

June 01, 2024

Initially, the rendezvous with Salyut 3 proceeded smoothly. However, as the Soyuz spacecraft approached the station, a critical problem arose. The Igla rendezvous system, designed to guide the spacecraft to the station, malfunctioned.

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Space Rocket History #439 – Salyut 3 – Soyuz 14 Part 1

May 17, 2024

Salyut 3 featured a “self-defense” gun purportedly designed by Alexander Nudelman for station use. Some reports suggest it was outfitted with a Nudelman-Rikhter “Vulkan” gun, a modified version of the 23mm Nudelman aircraft cannon, or conceivably a Nudelman NR-30 30mm … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #438 – Explorer 50, Westar 1, & NOAA 4

May 03, 2024

NASA’s Explorer 50, also known as Interplanetary Monitoring Platform-8 or IMP-8, stands as a testament to humanity’s relentless pursuit of knowledge and exploration beyond the confines of Earth.  

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Space Rocket History #437 – Mariner 10 – Venus & Mercury

April 19, 2024

Scientists had long been intrigued by Mercury, the innermost planet of our solar system. Despite its proximity to the Sun, Mercury remained largely unexplored, with many questions remaining about its surface features, geological composition, and magnetic field. The scientific community … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #436 – Pioneer 11

April 05, 2024

Pioneer 11 detected Saturn’s bow shock on Aug. 31, 1979, about 932,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) out from the planet, thus providing the first conclusive evidence of the existence of Saturn’s magnetic field.

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Space Rocket History #435 – Soyuz 12 & 13

March 16, 2024

This second generation of the Soyuz spacecraft, the Soyuz 7k-T was flown on Soyuz 12 through Soyuz 40 missions from 1973–1981. The new 7K-T spacecraft was designed to accommodate only two cosmonauts who would wear pressure suits at all times … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #434 – Salyut 2, Mars 4, 5, 6, 7 & Tang Ceremony

March 02, 2024

At this point in 1973, the Soviets were attempting to fly 2 types of space station, the long duration orbital station scientific version called DOS.  The other station was a military spy space station equipped with a machine gun, called … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #433 – Skylab – Crashdown

February 18, 2024

Despite predictions, events seldom occur precisely as expected. The calculated breakup altitude of Skylab was based on its intended structural strength specifications. However, the actual vehicle was stronger than the specified strength requirements.

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Space Rocket History #432 – Skylab – Reboost

February 02, 2024

The official decision to proceed with the Skylab reboost mission was made on September 1st 1977, initiating a two-year preparation period for the development and production of the required hardware and systems.

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Space Rocket History #431 – Skylab – Skylab 5 & Skylab B

January 19, 2024

Early in the planning stages of the Skylab flight, there was a desire to keep it in orbit long enough to use it as the core of a larger station.

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Space Rocket History #430 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Leaving Skylab

January 05, 2024

Activating the station upon arrival was a challenge, but packing up to return home was also a major event that took several days. For Carr and his crew, this was the last planned visit, but they left open the possibility … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #429 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Solar Observations and the Last EVA

December 15, 2023

The next time an American would venture outside of a spacecraft would be on a Space Shuttle flight and that was nine years later. In less than a decade, from June 1965 to February 1974, American astronauts had learned to … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #428 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Kohoutek in all its Glory

December 02, 2023

This crew was the first to celebrate a new year in space 17 times as they orbited the earth and moved through the time zones.

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Space Rocket History #427 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Christmas in Space

November 17, 2023

“We and everybody on the ground thought that it was going to be a beautiful, brilliant comet. It turned out to be beautiful all right, but it was so faint that we really had to work to find it. Once … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #426 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – The First EVA

November 03, 2023

“Nothing was outside, three times I went out that hatch into the ‘truly great outdoors.’ When I was out there, it was a silent world, except for the whispers of my own breath. Sometimes I felt totally alone, like the … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #425 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – The Strike (Fake News)

October 19, 2023

“There was no strike in space by any stretch of the imagination. What could we threaten to do, go live on the moon? If any of these writers had gotten their information from just one of us, the crew or … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #424 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Stowaways & We Lost Gibson

October 06, 2023

One stowaway was on the bicycle ergometer, another was in the LBNP (lower body negative pressure device), and the third was sitting on the toilet in the waste management compartment.

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Space Rocket History #423 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Launch & The Vomit Bag Scandal

September 22, 2023

“As we rode, the big blue eyes of Al Shepard bored into each of us looking for any sign of weakness, any indication that one of these rookies was not ready to go. I looked back with a defiant smile, … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #422 – Skylab – Skylab 4 – Kohoutek, Experiments, Flight Prep & Training

September 08, 2023

In space, on the day the second crew left Skylab, which was September 25, 1973, the orbital workshop began it’s third unmanned period.

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Space Rocket History #421 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Recovery & Re-acclimation

August 23, 2023

“I felt like that mission was from my viewpoint the highlight of my career, as being the best astronaut that I could be. I felt like our crew was the best crew we could be because we had done the … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #420 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – De-orbit, Re-entry, & Splashdown

August 10, 2023

“The thing I remember about reentry was not positioning some RCS switches correctly. We got behind and Owen could not read my notes in the checklist because of the limited space (and my ‘unique’ penmanship). I said, ‘Give me the … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #419 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Those Tricky Garriotts

July 26, 2023

“Hello Houston. Roger. Well I, haven’t talked with you for a while. Isn’t that you down there. Bob? This is Helen, here in Skylab. The boys hadn’t had a good home cooked meal in so long, I  thought I’d bring … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #418 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – AMU, EVA 2, Space Physics, Solar Physics and Mission Extension

July 13, 2023

On mission day 28, August 24th 1973, it was time to perform the 2nd EVA.  Garriott and Lousma once again stepped outside the orbital workshop for a 4 and ½ hour spacewalk.

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Space Rocket History #417 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Maximum Effort, Determination, Efficiency, and Accomplishment

June 28, 2023

Finally, the crew became efficient enough to get all of the work done that was scheduled for a given day. But, that did not make up for the time lost at the beginning of the mission.  Reaching 100 percent efficiency … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #416 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Wives, Spiders, Minnows and a Spacewalk

June 14, 2023

“I had to connect eleven five-foot sections of aluminum poles, twice, forming two long poles. These were then extended to Jack some forty or fifty feet away, where the poles were mounted in a ‘V’, and a large ‘sail’ pulled … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #415 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Rescue Mission Part 2

June 01, 2023

“Near the end of our preparation period, management said; Well, we believe, we can do this, now let’s set about to see how we can get them down without expending the resources for a rescue mission.  So just overnight we … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #414 – Skylab – Skylab 3 – Rescue Mission Part 1

May 17, 2023

“I think for me that was probably the low point of the mission because it threatened our ability to get our job done, and I wasn’t willing to come home.  I’ve never been afraid of space, but that was a … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #413 – Skylab – Skylab 3-Rendezvous, Docking & Vomit

May 03, 2023

Garriott was in the center couch and Lousma was on his right with a small window near his seat, Suddenly Jack announced, “Owen, there goes one of our thrusters floating by the window!”  

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Space Rocket History #412 – Skylab – The Launch of Skylab 3

April 19, 2023

The crew complement for the Skylab 3 mission was 783 life forms (52 fish, 720 flies, 6 mice, 2 spiders and 3 humans), by far the largest crew yet.

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Space Rocket History #411 – Skylab – Skylab 2 – Splashdown

April 05, 2023

Before the astronauts could leave there was one final problem to solve. Skylab’s refrigeration system began warming up. Houston immediately went to work on finding a solution. Now, there was some concern that the crews return would be delayed.

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Space Rocket History #410 – Skylab – Skylab 2 – Days 24-28

March 16, 2023

On Mission day 25, the crew was informed that they had surpassed the Russian space endurance record set by Soyuz 11 on Salyut 1 in 1971.

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Space Rocket History #409 – Skylab – Skylab 2 – Days 8-23

March 02, 2023

“Houston, Skylab. I’d like you to be the first to know that the PLT is the proud father of a genuine flare.” Joe Kerwin

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Space Rocket History #408 – Skylab – Skylab 2 – Days 2-7 & 10th Anniversary Celebration

February 15, 2023

NASA’s first priority was to get Skylab back into solar inertial attitude.  This was both the coolest attitude and would point the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) solar arrays directly at the sun. Thus the crew would have the most electrical … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #407 – Skylab – “We Can Fix Anything”

February 01, 2023

During the stand up EVA, Kerwin held Weitz while he pulled at the debris several times which disturbed the stability of the Skylab station and caused the Skylabs gyros to compensate. This was a big problem because it nearly pulled … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #406 – Skylab – The Launch of Skylab 2

January 19, 2023

At 07:00 hours Houston time, Skylab 2 roared off its Milk Stool from LC-39B; the first Saturn IB launch in almost five years and only the second launch from Pad 39B.

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Space Rocket History #405 – Skylab – What Went Wrong and How Do We Fix It?

January 04, 2023

Nasa concluded that the failure of the micrometeoroid shield 63 seconds into the flight caused the breaking of the solar array system. Furthermore, at 593 seconds into the flight the second stage retro rocket plume exhaust resulted in the ripping … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #404 – Skylab – The Launch of Skylab 1

December 14, 2022

Having two rockets stacked on pads 39A and 39B at the same time made for quite a sight at the Kennedy Space Center. There were also two firing rooms at KSC’s Launch Control Center that would control the countdowns for … Continue reading →

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Space Rocket History #403 – Skylab – S.M.E.A.T. – Skylab Mission 0

December 01, 2022

This SMEAT crew would test out various elements of the Skylab equipment and procedures in a series of trials, ending in a full-scale simulation that was set at 56 days.

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Space Rocket History #402 – Skylab – Training Part 2

November 17, 2022

The backup crew and some support crew participated in an interesting rescue scenario with 2 astronauts flying to Skylab to take back the crew of 3 onboard Skylab. This would mean 5 astronauts returning to earth in the command module.

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Space Rocket History #401 – Skylab – Training Part 1

November 02, 2022

Aside from physically training for the longest crewed missions that the United States had ever attempted, the actual training program was developed simultaneously with the hardware and experiments for the mission.

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Space Rocket History #400 – Skylab – The Astronauts Part 5 – Pogue & Weitz

October 19, 2022

Bill Pogue served with the Thunderbirds as an aerobatics pilot from 1955 to 1957.

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Space Rocket History #399 – Skylab – The Astronauts Part 4 – Lousma & Carr

October 05, 2022

Carr was in the likely crew rotation position to serve as lunar module pilot for Apollo 19 and walk on the Moon before the mission was canceled by NASA in 1970.

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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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