Friday, July 31, 2009

Today in Space 1971
First Lunar Rover Driven on Moon

July 31, 1971 - First Lunar Rover (LRV-1) driven on the moon by Scott & Irwin. First EVA started at 8:13 CDT and began with the collection of the contingency sample (last flight they did this) and then deployment of the Lunar Rover. Details below on its deployment - very cool video and graphics! Activities included a 10.3-kilometer geological traverse and the deployment of lunar surface experiments. Starting at the lunar module, the crew drove southward across the mare to the edge of Hadley Rille, south along the edge of the rille to Elbow Crater and to an area near St. George Crater. The return route was past Elbow Crater and directly across the mare to the lunar module. The EVA lasted approximately 6 hours, 33 minutes, ending at 3:46 p.m. LRV-1 total distance for three EVAs 27.9 km - 3 hours, 2 minutes of drive time. Very cool Traverse Map!

Cool animation of how the rover gets deployed.
Actual video of the same thing.

Amazing Lunar Surface Journal online!
The Lunar Rover Handbook
Lunar Rover image with definitions.
Another neat image with itemizations.
Air & space Museum description page on the Lunar Rover where those drawings came from.

Excellent source for Apollo 15 Extravehicular Activities.
Cool Air & Space Museum Site on Apollo 15.
Good site about Lunar Rovers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today in Space
51-F Launch 1985

19th shuttle flight loaded with astronomy and solar physics experiments. Dr. Henize was a astrophysicist scientist-astronaut and explained during an astronomy lecture I attended that he designed the stars on the patch to be in the position they would be at launch time (in relation to the sun).

He joined NASA in 1967 and waited 18 years for his first flight because his flight Skylab 6 was cancelled. At the time, he held the record for the oldest man in space (later overtaken by Vance Brand, Story, and then of course John Glenn). He still holds the record for oldest rookie in space. STS-51F flew Coke and Pepsi (with modified cans as the Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation (CBDE) payload) which was deemed a failure, but not entirely due to zero-g... the non refrigerated pop never had a chance.

Dr. Henize was an explorer and oddly enough (with all the Everest books I have been recently reading in the wake of Scott's Summit), he succumbed to HAPE climbing the north face of Mt. Everest in 1993 (in October) days before his 67th birthday. He was buried at 22,000 feet (Advanced Base Camp). Scott Parazynski carried with him to the summit of Everest in May a 51-F patch in honor of Karl Henize.

JSC Press Release on Henize's Death

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today in Space 1973
Skylab 3 Launches

Second manned Skylab mission launches (the first mission to deliver the Skylab is considered Skylab 1 so the numbering on the patches refers to the Skylab Expeditions).

The Skylab II patch had a sister patch for the wives (probably one of the most famous alternate patches - as they were seen wearing their patch during the mission). The female version of the patch was done as a joke for the crew who did not see it until they reached orbit.

I tend to avoid much of the news around the "spaceflight participants". And I must confess I had no idea Richard Garriott was the son of Skylab's Owen Garriott. Of course now that I look at him, he is the spitting image of Owen!

When Richard Garriott flew to the ISS as a spaceflight participant, he designed his own patch from the elements of his father's Skylab II patch because some of the elements of their missions were similar.

The original artist of the wives patch had the idea of a wives'/lady friend patch for the ISS mission after she saw a photo of Garriott wearing the Skylab II wives' patch on his Soyuz suit during his training. She suggested the patch to a friend in the space patch business (who contacted another artist) and they designed a patch.

Skylab II patch History.

Richard Garriott's story on the patches including the similarity of him and Sergei Volkov being the first second generation American and Russian to fly in space.

The ISS wives/lady friends patch story.

Lots of controversy around what happened to patch after its design!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today in Space
Launch and Loss of Liberty Bell 7

In 1961 Gus Grissom's sub-orbital MR-4 flight ended with the loss of the capsule as it became too heavy during retrieval while taking on water due to the blown hatch. It remained on the bottom of the ocean for 38 years until July 20th, 1999 (thought there was enough Today in Space for yesterday...). Liberty Bell 7 was recovered by Curt Newport (undersea salvager who worked on Challenger and Titanic recoveries) as a part of a Discovery series called Liberating the Liberty Bell.

The Discovery websites have been deleted - rather unfortunate because there were daily logs of the recovery process. I remember following it live - they found it, lost the undersea robot, then lost the capsule when getting a new robot (or retrieving it - don't remember) to the site, found the capsule again - and I was so excited when they finally succeeded at recovering it from three miles below. The Kansas Cosmosphere restored it, and made the recovery a travelling exhibit. It was hoped that the recovery would provide evidence of the source of the blown hatch - however, no conclusive findings were realized. The exhibit is currently at the Cosmosphere.

Lost Spacecraft Travelling Exhibition
Some images of recovery effort.
Some video of recovery.
Neat video with Liberty Bell 7 Recovery items with Chris Orwell from the Cosmosphere.
Recovery article from
CNN article on Recovery. article - Gus didn't do it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today in space
Lunar Landing
One Small Step, One Giant Leap

On this day I am saddened by the absence of Walter Cronkite. Was hoping there would be some kind of live replay of his coverage on that fateful night. I would just love to pretend it was happening at that moment while sitting in front of my HD... suppose it still wouldn't be live though, since I am headed to the Astros game and will be there when we "actually walk on the moon." I was able to synch up the CBS coverage with Cronkite from Youtube and the live NASA audio rebroadcast - pretty special way to watch the landing!

I find it fitting that Cronkite died gracefully a few days before so we could celebrate him along with Apollo 11.

Wally, say something I am speechless... CBS video as it happened here.

Walter Cronkite Moon Landing reflection here.

On a lighter note... Google decided to wait until landing to splash the Apollo 11 Moon Landing logo. Well played. And an extremely nice logo at that!

Mythbusters bust Moon Hoax tonight on Discovery Channel - a peek is here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Today in Space 1975
Apollo Soyuz Docking

This was the single most important event paving the way to the International Space Station. The collaboration that began with the design of the Docking Adapter for Apollo Soyuz eventually allowed my involvement in the NASA-Mir Program. I worked alongside the Russians in the very same room that was used for the Apollo Soyuz mission. I did this for three years - on a continuous rotation of five weeks there in Moscow and five weeks home. Provided me with 11 passport stamps (or 22 if you count my returns), my voice transmitted over air-to-ground to the Mir Space Station, and loads of opportunity to see some pretty special space hardware, including Yuri Gagarin's space capsule and Tereshkova's as well! Both of which we were allowed to touch!

We have seen much of Alexi Leonov's artwork over the years. However, it wasn't after his career he started painting... This little nugget of the US crew ready to lasso the Soyuz was actually rendered by Leonov during mission preparation.

Well, we didn't need the lasso, but we made history that day with the first International handshake. And at the time, it was the most people together in space at one time. Along the same lines, we have already tied the record of most people in space at one time with the STS-127 launch (six on ISS and 7 on the shuttle). The other time we had 13 people in space at one time was in 1995 with 6 aboard Mir (TM-20 and TM-21) and 7 on STS-67 which was not a Mir docking mission. Also in 1995 we achieved 10 people on one vehicle with the STS-71 docking at Mir (TM-21 Mir 18 onboard Mir). But later today we will break that record with the hatch opening ceremony aboard the ISS. It will be the first time 13 people have been on one vehicle!

Quite a busy day in space, huh?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Day in Space
Apollo 11 Anniversary Overload

You would have to live under a technological rock to not know that 40 years ago today Apollo 11 launched. In fact, between live Tour de France video feed, Apollo 11 audio rebroadcast, live NASA TV with a press conference for Apollo video restoration and mission coverage, and the many emails on Apollo goodies I experienced my very own personal whale fail early this morning! Had to step off... Quite overwhelming - but here is my top list:

Events next week (crap do we have to do this all over again on Monday...???):
July 20th - NASA night at Astros game w/ Astro singing National Anthem and xxx throwing out the first pitch.
July 24th - Splashdown Party at Space Center Houston

Ridiculously thorough list of events is here.

Live Rebroadcast:
NASA site

Good supporting site that shows flight events here.

Awesome vintage Mission Sequence graphic here.

Restored HD mission video here.
Never before on the internet on-board audio when the mikes were off here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Collins Shines a Tiny Spotlight Back on Himself

When asked how he spends his time, he answers:

Running, biking, swimming, fishing, painting, cooking, reading, worrying about the stock market, searching for a really good bottle of cabernet under ten dollars. Moderately busy.

Awesome! Because a really good Cabernet under $10 is one of the secrets to enjoying life... Well, under $25 anyway! Wish he had a Twitter feed - I have a hell of a list for him!

Neat answers to his most asked questions - although, some dispelling lifetime beliefs I have had regarding him and his mental state. I remember long ago I heard his daughter (on one of the soaps) tell about he never even talked about the moon to them. I just assumed he wigged out being in a spacecraft all alone knowing that he would have to leave his crewmates on the moon if things went wrong. Apparently, this is not true and he really just does not like the spotlight. He also has lots of insight... but is saving it for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11! Cute...

Press release here with his questions answered.

Today in Space 1975

Apollo Soyuz launches. The first International Mission carries on-board some neat swag and one Super Florida mosquito!

List of items carried can be seen at CollectSpace. The soyuz launched first with Leonov and Kubasov. After Slayton, Stafford, and Brand launched aboard their Apollo, Slayton was noted to say, "Man, I tell you, this is worth waiting 16 years for". Finally being cleared for flight after being grounded through the Mercury and Gemini programs with a heart condition, Deke was in space and became the oldest man in space at 51 (of course the record later fell when Glenn flew on STS-95 at the age of 77 on Space Shuttle Discovery).

During the extraction of the Docking Module and numerous maneuvers for rendezvous, Brand asked Capcom Truly to tell the launch crew at the Cape that they had permitted a stowaway to board the spacecraft. "We found a super Florida mosquito flying around here a few minutes ago." Slayton said that he planned to feed it to the fish that they were carrying onboard if he could catch it, and Brand wanted to bring it back and give it astronaut wings. But after flying about for several hours, the mosquito was never seen again. Apparently, it died in the reduced pressure pure oxygen of the CSM. Full day's events here.