Mar 01

Space Rocket History #199 – The Second Test Flight of the Soviet N1 Moon Rocket

On July 3, 1969, the same month as the the Apollo 11 Moon landing, The Soviet Union made another secret attempt to fly their giant Moon rocket.

N1-5L Rollout to pad. Credit Russia Space Web

Raising N1-5L

Escape system activated for N1-5L. Credit Russian Space Web.

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 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

Mar 09

Space Rocket History #152 – The Death of Yuri Gagarin

Hundreds of millions of people all over the planet had seen Gagarin smiling joyfully in person or on television. He was theirs, familiar to everyone, and at the same time a “Citizen of the Universe.”

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Gagarin's plaque in the Kremlin Wall.

Gagarin’s plaque in the Kremlin Wall.

50th Anniversary stamp for Vostok 1

50th Anniversary stamp for Vostok 1

Mar 03

Space Rocket History #151 – Zond 4

When we left the Soviet Union they had somewhat successfully landed a probe on Venus and they had completed the automatic docking of two Soyuz 7K-OK spacecrafts.  However they did not reach their goal of a circumlunar flight in time for the 50th anniversary of the glorious revolution.

L1 - Zond

L1 – Zond

Mishin, Agadzhanov, & Chertok

Mishin, Agadzhanov, & Chertok

7K-L1 spacecraft on Proton booster

7K-L1 spacecraft on Proton booster

Jan 07

Space Rocket History #143 – The First Soyuz Automatic Docking and the Secret Plan

After 1957, the Soviets became accustomed to achieving “world firsts” in space accomplishments. Nevertheless, 10 years later they were not confident that they could pull off the world’s first fully automatic rendezvous and docking of two un-piloted Soyuz spacecraft.  At the time the chance for success was estimated at only 50/50.

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Igla docking system antennas.

Igla docking system antennas.

Dec 23

Space Rocket History #142 – Venera 4

“It seemed that the nearby and mysterious planet was resorting to tricks to hide the secrets kept beneath its cover of clouds. As the probe drew nearer, Venus’ gravitational field increased its speed. The Doppler effect altered the wavelength of the signals received on Earth. The radio operators needed to be particularly vigilant so that the information sent from the station consistently landed in the narrow “throat” of the ground-based receivers.”  Boris Chertok

Venera 4. AKA Venus 4

Venera 4. AKA Venus 4

Venera 4 in Flight Config.

Venera 4 in Flight Config.

Venera 4 Capsule

Venera 4 Capsule on Display

Dec 17

Space Rocket History #141 – Soyuz 1: The Crash

“It’s a terrible scene. Komarov burned up. All the instruments burned. We must quickly find out what prevented the main parachute from unlatching.” Chief Designer Mishin after he arrived at the Soyuz 1 crash site.

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Validmir Komarov by Joe G.

Vlaidmir Komarov by Joe G.