Sep 21

An Encore Presentation of Space Rocket History #1 – Ancient Rocketry: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

From our small world we have gazed upon the cosmic ocean for thousands of years. Ancient astronomers observed points of light that appeared to move among the stars. They called these objects planets, meaning wanderers, and named them after Roman deities — Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn, and Jupiter. The stargazers also observed comets with sparkling tails, and meteors or shooting stars apparently falling from the sky.

Often, the early rocket pioneers are lost in the shadows of time. The space rockets of today are the result of more than 2,000 years of invention, experimentation, and discovery. The foundations for modern rocketry were laid, first by observation and inspiration and then by methodical research. hero engine chinese soldier fire Arrows Torpedo Wan Hu

Sep 14

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…

The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue

The Command Module probe and the Lunar Module Drogue

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

McDivitt & Schweickart practice in the LM simulator

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Schweickart in the spacesuit with the backpack

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Lithograph print of the negative that flew on Apollo 9, with signatures of Grumman engineers and mechanics

Sep 07

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…

Apollo CSM/LM vs. Soviet L3 Complex. Credit Mark Wade

Apollo CSM/LM vs. Soviet L3 Complex. Credit Mark Wade

N1 image taken by US KH-8 Reconnaissance satellite

N1 image taken by US KH-8 Reconnaissance satellite

N1 on the launch pad

N1 on the launch pad

Aug 31

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).

N1-L3 as per advanced project, 1964. Credit Astronautix

N1-L3 as per advanced project, 1964. Credit Astronautix

N-IF - 1965 design. Credit Astronautix

N-IF – 1965 design. Credit Astronautix

N1 diagram.

N1 diagram.

Aug 24

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.

Comparison of U.S. Saturn V with Soviet N1/L3

Comparison of U.S. Saturn V with Soviet N1/L3

N-1 draft project design of 1962. credit Astronautix

N-1 draft project design of 1962. credit Astronautix

N-1 Launch Diagram

N-1 Launch Diagram

Aug 17

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.

Model of Soyuz 5 approaching Soyuz 4 prior to the first docking of 2 manned spacecrafts

Model of Soyuz 5 approaching Soyuz 4 prior to the first docking of 2 manned spacecrafts

Soyuz 5 mission patch

Soyuz 5 mission patch

Official portrait for Soyuz 4/5 cosmonauts, OKB-1, militay and government personnel. Credit Boris Chertok

Official portrait for Soyuz 4/5 cosmonauts, OKB-1, militay and government personnel. Credit Boris Chertok

Aug 10

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.

Soyuz 4 & 5 crew (from left) Yeliseyev, Khrunov, Shatalov, and Volynov. Photo Credit:SpaceFacts.de

Soyuz 4 & 5 crew (from left) Yeliseyev, Khrunov, Shatalov, and Volynov. Photo Credit:SpaceFacts.de

Soyuz 4 launch

Soyuz 4 launch

Model of Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 after performing the first docking of two manned spacecraft on January 16th, 1969

Model of Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 after performing the first docking of two manned spacecraft on January 16th, 1969

Aug 03

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.

Borman, Anders, Lovell, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.

Borman, Anders, Lovell, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968.

Lovell, Borman, and Anders (left to right) - back on the earth after their Apollo 8 mission, tell what they saw

Lovell, Borman, and Anders (left to right) – back on the earth after their Apollo 8 mission, tell what they saw

The Crew of Apollo 8 on the cover of Time Magazine

The Crew of Apollo 8 on the cover of Time Magazine