'More Confidence Than Ever': Remembering the Trailblazing Mission of Apollo 9 (Part 2)

Apollo 9 marked the first “all-up” flight of the entire Apollo spacecraft, as well as the first mission to feature Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Photo Credit: NASA

Early on 5 March 1969, two men floated through a tunnel from their command ship into a spider-shaped vehicle whose descendants would soon carry astronauts to the surface […]

'Certainly Not Supposed to Happen': Remembering the Trailblazing Mission of Apollo 9 (Part 1)

On the “D” mission, which later became Apollo 9, astronauts Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart would put the Lunar Module (LM) through its paces for the first time on a piloted space mission. Photo Credit: NASA

The year 1969 was pivotal in so many ways for humanity. At its dawn, American astronauts […]

'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” […]

The 'No Sense' Mission: 50 Years Since the Rise and Fall of Apollo 2 (Part 2)

North American technicians work inside the Block I Command Module during processing. This craft caused great concern to Apollo 1 Commander Virgil “Gus” Grissom, who followed its progress with mounting distress and anger. Photo Credit: NASA

It is rare to find a space mission which was born, thrived, and ended within a matter of […]

The 'No Sense' Mission: 50 Years Since the Rise and Fall of Apollo 2 (Part 1)

The three men who eventually formed the prime crew of Apollo 7 were originally assigned to the short-lived Apollo 2 mission. Left to right, are Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele, and Wally Schirra. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this month, a space mission which even its commander—veteran Mercury and Gemini astronaut Wally Schirra—described as […]

Walking on an Alien World: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 2)

A mere four years after humanity’s first spacewalk, EVA and space suit technology advanced sufficiently to permit Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, yesterday, on 18 March 1965, humanity became an “extravehicular” spacefaring civilization for the first time, when 30-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov ventured outside […]

'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 […]

'Does Anyone Read Me?' 45 Years Since Apollo 9 (Part 2)

As Rusty Schweickart performed his EVA from Spider, Dave Scott made a “stand-up” EVA in Gumdrop’s hatch. It was always recognized that in an emergency returning lunar crews might need to transfer by “extravehicular” means from the LM back to the CSM. Photo Credit: NASA

Early on 5 March 1969, 45 years ago this […]

'We Were at War': 45 Years Since Apollo 9 (Part 1)

The year 1969 was pivotal in so many ways for humanity. At its dawn, American astronauts had newly returned from circling the Moon, and by July it had produced our first piloted landfall on another world. These astonishing achievements continue to resonate today—particularly following 2012’s untimely loss of Neil Armstrong—but there is one mission, […]