'Worst Day': Remembering the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 1 (Part 2)

The Apollo 1 prime crew consisted of (from right) Commander Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger Chaffee. Photo Credit: NASA

In the windowless blockhouse at Pad 34 at Cape Kennedy, Deke Slayton heard the call of “rookie” astronaut Roger Chaffee and glanced over to a monitor which showed the hatch […]

'All of You on the Good Earth': Celebrating Christmas Away from the Home Planet (Part 1)

With a fire unavailable, the Christmas stockings of consecutive International Space Station (ISS) crews have been hung by the hatch—with care, of course. Photo Credit: NASA

For the first time, a woman will record as many as two Christmases spent away from the Home Planet tomorrow (Sunday), whilst orbiting Earth aboard the International Space […]

'All Sorts of Planning Problems': 50 Years Since Apollo Took Steps to the Moon (Part 2)

Apollo 8 in December 1968 marked the first occasion on which humans had departed Earth’s gravitational “well,” entered cislunar space, and traveled to the Moon. The flight design originated from the “E-mission” of Apollo 3. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this week—just three days before Christmas 1966—NASA announced the names of a group […]

'The Next Mission in the Schedule': 50 Years Since Apollo Took Steps to the Moon (Part 1)

Targeting a launch as early as August 1967, the Apollo 2 crew of (from left) Rusty Schweickart, Dave Scott, and Jim McDivitt would have performed the inaugural test of the combined command, service, and lunar modules in low-Earth orbit. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Nearly five decades have passed since astronauts Virgil “Gus” […]

Five Decades of Celebrating Christmas in Space (Part 1)

Truly the voyage of Apollo 8 over the Christmas period in 1968 carried with it the most profound message of the Greatest Story Ever Told: a message of peace, goodwill and harmony to the inhabitants of Planet Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

For the first time, an American citizen recorded as many as three Christmases […]

'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 […]

'Open-Ended': What 1967 Might Have Been

The Apollo 1 crew, pictured during training, would have embarked on an open-ended mission of up to 14 days in duration in February-March 1967. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Figuratively and literally, February is a gloomy month, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere—a four-week period of darkness, plunging temperatures, and poor weather, with the […]

Ding-Dong Merrily On-Orbit: Celebrating Yuletide in Space (Part 1)

Truly the voyage of Apollo 8 over the Christmas period in 1968 carried with it the most profound message of the Greatest Story Ever Told: a message of peace, goodwill and harmony to the inhabitants of Planet Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

For the first time in history, two women will celebrate Christmas on Thursday, […]

'There Is a Santa Claus': The Voyage of Apollo 8 (Part 2)

Hanging in the black sky, five degrees above the lunar horizon and with the terminator crossing Africa, this astonishing view of the Home Planet represented the first occasion on which human eyes glimpsed “Earthrise” from the Moon. It is a timeless image which continues to draw inspiration and wonder. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-six years […]