'We Had 'Em By the Short Hairs': How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 2)

The Mercury-Redstone Booster Development (MR-BD) mission launches on 24 March 1961. This mission cleared the final concerns, ahead of entrusting the rocket with a human pilot. Photo Credit: NASA

In early 1961, the Mercury Seven were ready to begin the United States’ first missions into space. However, the need to conduct a final unpiloted Mercury-Redstone mission caused America to lose the race to beat the Soviet Union into space. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, next week, on 24 March 1961, the final […]

Timid Doctors and Timid Germans: How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 1)

One of the earliest rockets to be launched from Cape Canaveral was the Army’s Redstone missile, which later evolved into the vehicle seen here delivering America’s first man into space. Photo Credit: NASA

More than five decades have now passed since one of the most unfortunate episodes in human spaceflight history. In late March […]

'Familiar to Millions of Americans': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 4)

Apollo 14 concludes humanity's third manned lunar landing with a perfect splashdown on 9 February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Bathed by the intense lunar sunlight, Antares sits on the undulating plain of Fra Mauro in February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

For those of us born within the last four decades, the notion of looking up at the Moon and knowing that fellow human beings are living and working there has been as alien […]

'It's Been A Long Way': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 3)

The Apollo 14 crew, from left, consisted of Stu Roosa, Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell. They are backdropped by their official mission patch. Photo Credit: NASA

The desolation of the Fra Mauro site and the tracks of the Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET), as captured by one of the Apollo 14 astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, last week, the sixth team of Apollo lunar explorers—and only the third to accomplish a landing on the Moon’s dusty surface—headed back to […]

'Fat as a Goose': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 2)

Bathed by the intense lunar sunlight, Antares sits on the undulating plain of Fra Mauro in February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Al Shepard (foreground) and Ed Mitchell, pictured in the Lunar Module (LM) simulator during training. Photo Credit: NASA

A few hours after leaving Earth on 31 January 1971—45 years ago, this week—Apollo 14 seemed a charmed mission-in-progress, providing a stark contrast with its immediate predecessor, the ill-fated Apollo 13. As outlined in yesterday’s AmericaSpace […]

'Almost Worth the Entire Trip': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 1)

Al Shepard, pictured at Fra Mauro during Apollo 14 in early 1971. This was the planned landing site for Apollo 13. Photo Credit: NASA

Al Shepard, pictured at Fra Mauro during Apollo 14 in early 1971. This was the planned landing site for Apollo 13. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this week, the sixth team of Apollo lunar explorers—and only the third to accomplish a landing on the Moon’s dusty surface—headed back to Earth after a mission […]

The Misfortune of Al Shepard: 50 Years Since Gemini 3 (Part 1)

In addition to carrying the equipment of the prime crew, Gemini 3 backups Wally Schirra (third from the right) and Tom Stafford (second from right) saw to it that they fulfilled the mission’s humor requirements. As a result, Gemini 3 would forever come to be known as “The Corned Beef Sandwich Mission.” Photo Credit: […]

'What a Beautiful View': The 15 Minutes of Freedom 7

Alan Shepard is hoisted aboard the helicopter, deftly piloted by Wayne Koons, after completing his 15-minute suborbital flight. The patch of fluorescent green marker dye in the water around Freedom 7 is particularly obvious. Photo Credit: NASA

In the half-hour between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Eastern time on 5 May 1961, the United States […]

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 2)

Yuri Gagarin (left) was proudly displayed to the world by a joyful Nikita Khrushchev (right), who recognized the political and ideological advantage which his flight had acquired over the United States. Photo Credit: Roscosmos/The Telegraph

The location at which the feet of Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin—the first human ever to break the bonds of Earth […]

In Search of Cone Crater: 43 Years Since Triumphant Mission of Apollo 14 (Part 2)

Beneath a gloomy sky, Apollo 14 takes flight on the afternoon of 31 January 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-three years ago this week, the sixth team of Apollo lunar explorers—and only the third to accomplish a landing on the Moon’s dusty surface—headed back to Earth after a mission which restored confidence in America’s space […]