'Send Up a Tanker': 50 Years Since the High-Flight of Gemini XI (Part 2)

To this day, Gemini XI retains the record for the highest altitude ever achieved by an Earth-orbital piloted mission. Only the Apollo lunar expeditions traveled further. Photo Credit: NASA

Tethering Gemini XI to Agena-XI was part of an experiment to evaluate the controllability of two vehicles in close proximity without control inputs. Photo Credit: NASA

Half a century ago, this coming week, on 12 September 1966, Gemini XI astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Dick Gordon launched from Earth within a two-second-long “window” and […]

'Would You Believe M=1?' 50 Years Since the High-Flight of Gemini XI (Part 1)

Pete Conrad (foreground) and Dick Gordon, with dark EVA visor, are pictured aboard Gemini IX. Both men later journeyed to the Moon together on Apollo 12. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this month, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon’s Gemini XI mission would carry them to a peak 850 miles (1,370 km), which remains the highest altitude of any Earth-orbital mission. Only the Apollo lunar flights traveled higher on their expeditions to the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

Not all astronauts get on with […]

Record-Breaker Jeff Williams to Become America's Most Experienced Astronaut Tomorrow

Jeff Williams became the first American to record as many as three long-duration space station increments. Photo Credit: NASA

In the wee hours of tomorrow morning (Wednesday), Jeff Williams will become the United States’ most flight-experienced astronaut. Photo Credit: NASA

At 4:56 a.m. EDT tomorrow (Wednesday, 24 August), NASA astronaut Jeff Williams—the incumbent skipper of Expedition 48, aboard the International Space Station (ISS)—will officially become the United States’ most seasoned spacefarer. He will […]

'An Even Better Friend': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 2)

Standing near a huge boulder, overlooking the scenic grandeur of the Taurus-Littrow valley, Jack Schmitt became the first - and so far only - professional geologist to visit another world. His selection as a member of the Apollo 17 crew came at the end of a long and difficult process, which saw him overlooked for an assignment time and time again...and eventually resulted in Joe Engle losing his own seat on a lunar voyage. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, the names of the final crew of lunar explorers of the 20th century were announced. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, NASA made the decision which would close out human exploration of the lunar surface for more than two generations: the selection of the final crew to […]

'I Didn't Feel Any Obligation': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 1)

Forty years after Apollo 17, Jack Schmitt remains the only professional geologist to practice his art on another world. Pictured in this view with Old Glory at Taurus-Littrow, he is backdropped by the two celestial bodies upon which he had based his entire career: the Moon and the Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

As Project Apollo wore on, the intensity of lobbying by the scientific community to get geologist-astronaut Jack Schmitt to the Moon increased. Originally assigned to the Apollo 15 backup crew, Schmitt might have flown Apollo 18, prior to a sweeping cancelation of the final missions in the program. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost five […]

'A Peaceful, If Temporary Home': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 4)

Jim Irwin works on digging a trench to test the bearing capacity of the lunar soil. He "solved a dog's job with a dog's technique". Photo Credit: NASA

Jim Irwin works on digging a trench to test the bearing capacity of the lunar soil. He “solved a dog’s job with a dog’s technique.” Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, today, on 7 August 1971, the Apollo 15 crew—Commander Dave Scott, Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Jim Irwin, and Command Module Pilot (CMP) Al Worden—returned […]

'Lifted Up On A Pedestal': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 3)

Haunting view of Jim Irwin with the lunar rover, backdropped by the grandeur of Mount Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA

Haunting view of Jim Irwin with the lunar rover, backdropped by the grandeur of Mount Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this week, as July burned into August 1971, three sons of Planet Earth were midway through their exploration of the Moon. Aboard the Command and Service Module (CSM) Endeavour, astronaut Al Worden operated a […]

'Exploration at Its Greatest': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 2)

Dave Scott works with the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on the slopes of Hadley Rille during Apollo 15. Photo Credit: NASA

Dave Scott works with the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on the slopes of Hadley Rille during Apollo 15. Photo Credit: NASA

Since the evening of 20/21 July 1969, it had become something of a tradition for the commander of each Apollo lunar landing mission to make a comment as he took his first steps […]

'The Reality of the Situation': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 1)

For each Apollo landing crew, the cramped confines of the Lunar Module (LM) provided their sanctuary against the hostile extremes of an airless, lifeless world beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

For each Apollo landing crew, the cramped confines of the Lunar Module (LM) provided their sanctuary against the hostile extremes of an airless, lifeless world beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

Four hundred miles (640 km) to the north of the Moon’s equator lies a place called Hadley: a small patch of Mare Imbrium at the […]

'Something Fierce': 50 Years Since the Double-Rendezvous, Double-Spacewalk Mission of Gemini X (Part 2)

The Gemini X is recovered from their capsule in the Atlantic Ocean by the U.S.S. Guadalcanal on 21 July 1966. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

The Gemini X crew of Command Pilot John Young and Pilot Mike Collins are recovered from their capsule in the Atlantic Ocean by the U.S.S. Guadalcanal on 21 July 1966. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Half a century has now passed since Gemini X astronauts John Young and Mike Collins paved the way for […]