Space Rocket History Archive

Space Rocket History #177 – Apollo 9 – Preparations

The biggest concern before Apollo 9 was the docking maneuver.  In early 1969, at NASA there was little confidence in the docking system. At a January program review, Phillips said that problems encountered during probe and drogue testing worried him…

Space Rocket History #176 – The First Test Flight of the Soviet N1

Finally, on the morning of February 21, all the population of the N1 assembly area and a residential area, situated just south of the launch pad, was ordered to evacuate. The giant service structure then rolled away leaving the dark-gray rocket with a white payload fairing towering under sunny skies. The weather was extremely cold, with temperatures falling to minus 44 C degrees, and stormy winds.  In the fortified firing control room, the Commander of the 6th Directorate, took the firing command position at the main periscope…

Space Rocket History #175 – Early History of the Soviet N1 – Part 2

On August the third 1964 Decree number 655-268 was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. For the first time a command was given for OKB-1 to put one man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the United States (Keep in mind the US already had already begun their Lunar program more than three years earlier, in April 1961).

Space Rocket History #174 – Early History of the Soviet N1 – Part 1

The L-3 manned spacecraft was designed to make a direct lunar landing using the earth orbit rendezvous method. It was a 200 metric ton spacecraft requiring three N1 launches and a single Soyuz 11A5ll launch to assemble in low earth orbit. The first N1 launch would place the 75 metric ton partially-fueled Trans Lunar Injection stage and L3 spacecraft into low earth orbit. Two further N1 launches would orbit 75 metric ton tankers which would rendezvous and dock with the first payload and top off its propellant tanks. Then the Soyuz would be launched for an automated rear-end docking with the entire L3 stack.

Space Rocket History #173 – Soyuz 4 & 5 – World’s First Space Station? – Part 2

Vladimir Shatalov would become the Soviet Union’s 13th space traveler, his home telephone number ended in “13” and the launch itself was set for 13:00 hours Moscow Time, on January 13th, 1969.

Space Rocket History #172 – Soyuz 4 & 5 – World’s First Space Station? – Part 1

The objectives of the Soyuz 4 & 5 mission were to dock two manned Soyuz 7K-0Ks, transfer two Cosmonauts from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4 by means of a space walk, and then safely return both crews to earth.

Space Rocket History #171 – Apollo 8 – The Reaction

New York City welcomed the Apollo 8 crew with a ticker-tape parade on the 10th of January, Newark hailed them on the 11th, and Miami greeted them on the 12th during the Super Bowl game. The Astronauts returned to Houston on the 13th for a hometown parade. Incoming President Richard M. Nixon sent Borman and his family on an eight-nation goodwill tour of western Europe. Everywhere they went, the astronauts depicted the earth as a spaceship and stressed international cooperation in space.

Space Rocket History #170 – Apollo 8 – The Voyage Home

Even a perfect reentry would subject the Apollo 8 command module to extreme stress.  With Gemini, the capsule re-entered from Earth orbit, but Apollo 8 would re-enter at approximated 25,000 miles per hour.  The forces of heat and deceleration would be much greater.

Space Rocket History #169 – Apollo 8 – Christmas 1968

Bill Anders:
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.”
“‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'”
Jim Lovell:
“‘And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
‘And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
‘And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.’”
Frank Borman:
“‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
‘And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.'”
“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

Space Rocket History #168 – Apollo 8 – Lunar Orbit and Earthrise

As Apollo 8 drifted above the far side of the moon Borman, Lovell, and Anders observed a scene of total desolation.  It appeared absent of color, except for various shades of gray.  There was no atmosphere to soften the view, it was a scene of extreme clarity.

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