'Like a Big Ol' Freight Train': 45 Years Since the Launch of Apollo 17

Apollo 17 launches into the night at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Forty-five years ago, the combined spacecraft of Apollo 17—the Command and Service Module (CSM), named “America”, and the spider-like Lunar Module (LM), dubbed “Challenger”—slipped smoothly into lunar orbit. In doing so, it represented the […]

NASA Remembers Gene Cernan, Last Apollo Moonwalker

Gene Cernan salutes the U.S. flag at Taurus-Littrow in December 1972. Photo Credit: NASA

A little more than a week since his passing, aged 82, veteran astronaut and Navy Capt. Eugene Cernan—the last man to have left his footprints on the surface of the Moon—was honored today in a touching funeral service at St. […]

Gene Cernan, Last Apollo Moonwalker, Dies Aged 82

Gene Cernan salutes the U.S. flag at Taurus-Littrow in December 1972. Photo Credit: NASA

On 16 January, a day of reflection—the 14th anniversary of the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia on her final mission—the world lost a shining light in the early annals of human space exploration. Retired Navy Capt. Gene Cernan, veteran of […]

Chimpanzee Work: 50 Years Since NASA Closed Out Project Gemini (Part 2)

On Gemini XII, Buzz Aldrin became the first human being to embark on three discrete sessions of extravehicular activity. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, next week, Gemini XII astronauts Jim Lovell and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin roared into orbit on a four-day mission which would demonstrate many of the capabilities that NASA needed to […]

'Be Advised We Have a Solid Lock-On': 50 Years Since NASA Closed Out Project Gemini (Part 1)

Stunning perspective of Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba, captured by the Gemini XII astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Five decades have now passed since the final curtain was drawn down on Project Gemini—America’s effort to perfect the techniques of rendezvous, docking, long-duration spaceflight, and spacewalking—ahead of fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a […]

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

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)

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 […]

'Otherwise Engaged': 50 Years Since the Double-Rendezvous, Double-Spacewalk Mission of Gemini X (Part 1)

Six hours after launching from Cape Kennedy on 18 July 1966, Gemini X Command Pilot John Young and Pilot Mike Collins rendezvoused and docked with Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV)-5005. It was the first of a record-setting two rendezvous to be performed during their three-day mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Fifty years ago, […]

'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

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)

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 […]