'Only Tom Really Knows': 50 Years Since the Challenging Mission of Gemini IX (Part 2)

A view of Gemini IX, including its maneuvering thrusters, taken by Gene Cernan. His lengthy tether is clearly visible. Photo Credit: NASA

A view of Gemini IX, including its maneuvering thrusters, taken by Gene Cernan. His lengthy tether is clearly visible. Photo Credit: NASA

Five decades ago, one of the hairiest and most difficult missions in America’s space history unfolded. Gemini IX-A was already complex—a three-day flight, involving rendezvous, docking, maneuvering, and spacewalking—but had endured additional […]

'Like an Angry Alligator': 50 Years Since the Challenging Mission of Gemini IX (Part 1)

Gene Cernan's EVA was the longest to date, by far the most complex...and intrinsically hazardous. Photo Credit: NASA

Gemini IX finally flew in June 1966, carrying astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA

In many ways, NASA’s Gemini IX mission—tasked with spending three days in space, performing a lengthy spacewalk, a rendezvous, and a docking with an unmanned Agena target vehicle—was hamstrung by bad luck. First, in February 1966, its […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 2)

Through a combination of enthusiasm for space exploration and political need, President John F. Kennedy's speech on 25 May 1961 defined his short-lived administration. Photo Credit: NASA

Through a combination of enthusiasm for space exploration and political need, President John F. Kennedy’s speech on 25 May 1961 defined his short-lived administration. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, this week, John Fitzgerald Kennedy—35th President of the United States—gave a speech before Congress which, arguably, defined not only his administration, but also the […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 1)

On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. political history, by setting his nation on a course to land a man on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. political history, by setting his nation on a course to land a man on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of heroes in the early Space Age, our minds are naturally drawn to the likes […]

'More Routine, Less Newsworthy': 50 Years Since Gemini IX Lost Its Agena (Part 1)

Had history been kinder, this might have been the view from Gemini IX's windows, 50 years ago, this week. However, the failure of the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) to reach orbit on 17 May 1966 led to a two-week delay to the mission of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Had history been kinder, this might have been the view from Gemini IX’s windows, 50 years ago, this week. However, the failure of the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) to reach orbit on 17 May 1966 led to a two-week delay to the mission of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim […]

NASA-Stennis Observes 50th Anniversary of First Saturn V Test-Firings

A colossal pall of smoke rises above the A-2 Test Stand at the Mississippi Test Facility on 23 April 1966, as NASA test-fires the J-2 engines for the S-II second stage of the Saturn V. Fifty years later, as Stennis Space Center, the journey continues. Photo Credit: NASA

A colossal pall of smoke rises above the A-2 Test Stand at the Mississippi Test Facility on 23 April 1966, as NASA test-fires the J-2 engines for the S-II second stage of the Saturn V. Fifty years later, as Stennis Space Center, the journey continues. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, tomorrow, on 23 […]

'Tumbling End Over End': 50 Years Since the Traumatic Mission of Gemini VIII (Part 2)

Gemini VIII's nose edges into the docking collar of the Agena target. Although this mission achieved a successful rendezvous and docking, it fell victim to violent oscillations, due to a stuck-on thruster, which almost cost Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott their lives. Photo Credit: NASA

Gemini VIII’s nose edges into the docking collar of the Agena target. Although this mission achieved a successful rendezvous and docking, it fell victim to violent oscillations, due to a stuck-on thruster, which almost cost Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott their lives. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this week, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong […]

'Really a Smoothie': 50 Years Since the Traumatic Mission of Gemini VIII (Part 1)

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon in their later careers. Photo Credit: NASA

Gemini VIII (foreground) enters into the final stages of rendezvous with the Agena target vehicle. Photo Credit: NASA

At the dawn of 1966, America’s drive to land a man on the Moon had accelerated into high gear. Five Gemini crews had shown that astronauts could survive in space for long enough to complete the […]

'A Very Great Honor': 50 Years Since the Accident Which Changed Project Gemini (Part 1)

Assigned in November 1965, the Gemini IX crew of Elliot See (left) and Charlie Bassett were tasked with flying a 48-72-hour mission in the late spring of 1966. Their flight would have demonstrated rendezvous, docking, maneuvering and spacewalking. Photo Credit: NASA

Assigned in November 1965, the Gemini IX crew of Elliot See (left) and Charlie Bassett were tasked with flying a 48-72-hour mission in the late spring of 1966. Their flight would have demonstrated rendezvous, docking, maneuvering, and spacewalking. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this month, in February 1966, NASA and America’s effort to […]

'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 […]