Jul 06

Space Rocket History #167 – Apollo 8 – Coasting Up Hill and Waste Management

Just a few minutes after Apollo 8’s second TV broadcast, Borman, Lovell, and Anders passed Earth’s  gravitational hill top and crossed into the Moon’s gravitational sphere of influence.

Apollo 8 leaving the spent third stage

Apollo 8 leaving the spent third stage

Apollo 8 Translunar Coast leaving Earth

Apollo 8 Translunar Coast leaving Earth

Apollo 8 mission patch

Apollo 8 mission patch

Jun 22

Space Rocket History #166 – Apollo 8 – Translunar Injection

At T plus 40 seconds Apollo 8 went supersonic and the ride smoothed out. Now it was quite again, but Borman kept a watchful eye on the trajectory readouts. If there was a Saturn malfunction he could whisk the capsule away just by twisting the abort handle. This would trigger the escape rocket.

Apollo 8 Lunar Plan

Apollo 8 Lunar Plan

Apollo 8 Staging

Apollo 8 Staging

View from Apollo 8 in Earth orbit

View from Apollo 8 in Earth orbit

Jun 15

Space Rocket History #165 – Apollo 8 – The Launch

Until now the astronauts knew, in the back of their minds, there was a possibility that a malfunction would turn this countdown into just another practice run and they would have to get out and try again another day. But, as the count reached T minus 15 minutes, there was no doubt, they were really going.

Command Module Main Control Panel

Command Module Main Control Panel

Launch of Apollo 8 with Crescent Moon

Launch of Apollo 8 with Crescent Moon

Apollo 8 Clears the Tower

Apollo 8 Clears the Tower

Jun 08

Space Rocket History #164 – Apollo 8 – Pre-launch

For now the mighty Saturn V stood empty.  But overnight, even while Borman’s crew slept, technicians would ready it for departure.  By morning its enormous fuel thanks would be filled with cryogenic propellants, until the rocket would contain the explosive energy of an atomic bomb.

Lunar mission profile

Lunar mission profile

Apollo 8 crew on the way to the pad 39A

Apollo 8 crew on the way to the pad 39A

Aerial view of Apollo 8

Aerial view of Apollo 8

Jan 29

Space Rocket History #98 – Apollo Beginnings

President Kennedy proposed the manned lunar landing as the focus of the US space program but, at the time of his address, only one American, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. had been into space, on a suborbital lob shot lasting 15 minutes. No rocket launch vehicle was available for a lunar voyage and there was no agreed upon method for placing any kind of spacecraft safely on the lunar surface and getting it back to the earth. Nor was there agreement within NASA itself on how it should be done.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

Dec 04

Space Rocket History #91 – The Death of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev – Part 3

Around noon on January 14th, Boris Chertok was alone in his office studying a folder of classified mail that had accumulated during the past few days. He had asked not to be disturbed. Suddenly his subordinate ran in and shouted, “Sergey Pavlovich died!”
Chertok responded “Are you out of your mind? Which Sergey Pavlovich?”
“Ours, our Sergey Pavlovich Korolev! His wife telephoned from the hospital!”
Chertok stood absolutely dumbfounded, having no idea what to do next. This can’t be! This really shouldn’t be happening! A few seconds later he called the Kremlin for verification.

Monument in Moscow

Monument in Moscow

Monument in Korolyov

Monument in Korolyov

Monument in Baykonur

Monument in Baykonur

Nov 26

Space Rocket History #90 – The Death of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev – Part 2

Sergei Korolev’s life paralleled in many ways the life of Wernher Von Braun. Like Von Braun, as a young man, Sergei Korolev was inspired to dedicate his life to the technology for space exploration after becoming acquainted with the work of a great space pioneer: Hermann Oberth in the case of von Braun, and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the case of Korolev. Both began their careers in space development through serious study, participation in amateur rocket societies, and then support from the military…

Korolev, Kurchatov, Keldysh

Korolev, Kurchatov, Keldysh

Yuri and Sergei

Yuri and Sergei

Vostok 1 Lauch

Vostok 1 Lauch

Nov 20

Space Rocket History #89 – The Death of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev – Part 1

His power, influence, and responsibilities during the 1950s and 60s were all encompassing. Not only was he in charge of all space-related issues, he was also in charge of some of the design of rockets for military purposes as well. He oversaw the design and testing of communications and surveillance satellites, too. Although he delegated responsibility for each program to trusted designers in separate engineering bureaus, his workload was enormous. He was the responsible for all the programs including the Soviet equivalent of NASA, which was called the Ministry for Medium Machine Building.

Sergei as a Child

Sergei as a Child

Korolev in his 20s

Korolev in his 20s

Korolev in a Glider

Korolev in a Glider