'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” […]

'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 […]

'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

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 […]

'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

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 […]

'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

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 […]

'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 […]

45 Years Since Apollo 12: The Surveyor and the Lonely Man (Part 4)

The Surveyor 3 landing craft, backdropped by the Apollo 12 lunar module Intrepid, as viewed by Pete Conrad and Al Bean at the Ocean of Storms in November 1969. Photo Credit: NASA

Within minutes of arriving on the Moon’s surface, early on 19 November 1969, Apollo 12 astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad began erecting an […]

45 Years Since Apollo 12: The Hammer and the Protuberances (Part 3)

Al Bean carries the panniers of the first Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) across the dusty terrain for installation. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, in November 1969, the human race comprised an estimated three billion souls on Planet Earth … and three others. A quarter of a million miles away, Apollo 12 […]

45 Years Since Apollo 12: The $500 Bet and the Lightning Strike (Part 1)

Al Bean begins his descent from the hatch of the lunar module Intrepid toward the surface at the Ocean of Storms. Photo Credit: NASA

One thing that irritated Charles “Pete” Conrad was the public belief that astronauts were told to say certain things during their missions. He knew that when Neil Armstrong became the […]