'A Real Bright Star': 50 Years Since the First Space Rendezvous (Part 2)

Just 1.2 seconds after engine ignition on 12 December 1965, the Titan II suffered a premature shutdown. Instantly, Wally Schirra faced a life-or-death gamble: to hold his nerve or pull the ejection handle. He held his nerve and Gemini VI-A survived to fly another day. Photo Credit: NASA

“It’s death … or the ejection […]

'It's Death or the Ejection Seat': 50 Years Since the First Space Rendezvous (Part 1)

Backdropped by the grandeur of Earth, Gemini VII drifts serenely in the inky darkness, as seen from Gemini VI-A. Photo Credit: NASA

Just before Christmas in 1965—50 years ago, next week—a pair of Gemini spacecraft serenely circled Earth together and in close proximity. Aboard Gemini VII, astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell were midway through […]

Partners in Space: 40 Years Since the Remarkable Voyage of Apollo-Soyuz (Part 4)

America’s Apollo, with its docking module (left), approaches Russia’s Soyuz for the first joint manned space exercise between the two superpowers in July 1975. This would mark the high-watermark of their relations, but the late 1970s would signal a harsh decline in friendship and bring them to the brink of war once again. Image […]

Partners in Space: 40 Years Since the Remarkable Voyage of Apollo-Soyuz (Part 3)

Tom Stafford (right) shakes hands with his counterpart Alexei Leonov in the docking module tunnel on 17 July 1975. This grainy image represents the first serious effort at co-operation between the United States and Russia in human space exploration. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost two decades, the United States and Russia have collaborated in […]

Partners in Space: 40 Years Since the Remarkable Voyage of Apollo-Soyuz (Part 2)

Apollo 18, with its docking module (left), approaches Soyuz 19 for the first joint U.S.-Russian manned space exercise in July 1975. Image Credit: NASA

For almost two decades, the United States and Russia have collaborated in the grandest scientific, engineering, and human endeavor ever undertaken in human history: the construction of the International Space […]

Partners in Space: 40 Years Since the Remarkable Voyage of Apollo-Soyuz (Part 1)

Tom Stafford (right) shakes hands with his counterpart Alexei Leonov in the docking module tunnel on 17 July 1975. This grainy image represents the first serious effort at co-operation between the United States and Russia in human space exploration. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost two decades, the United States and Russia have collaborated in […]

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: […]

'Working a Monkey Board': The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 1)

Five decades have now passed since humanity’s first foray beyond the confines of their pressurized spacecraft and into the airless void beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, today, on 18 March 1965, a 30-year-old Soviet cosmonaut named Alexei Leonov became the first human in history to depart the confines of his spacecraft in […]

A Mission of 'Almosts': Project Gemini's First Rendezvous in Space (Part 2)

Gemini VI crewmen Tom Stafford (left) and Wally Schirra are pictured during an emergency water egress exercise. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost 50 years ago, the United States almost staged its first rendezvous mission between unpiloted and piloted vehicles in low-Earth orbit. An Atlas-Agena target craft was almost successfully launched, yet failed to achieve orbit, […]

A Mission of 'Almosts': Project Gemini's First Rendezvous in Space (Part 1)

Gemini VII, bearing astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on a record-breaking 14-day mission, is seen through the windows of Gemini VI-A, with fellow spacefarers Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford. This mission, in December 1965, marked the first “true” rendezvous between two piloted vehicles in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost 50 years ago, the […]