“What a Beautiful View”: Remembering America’s First Man in Space, OTD in 1961

Al Shepard is hoisted aboard the helicopter, deftly piloted by Wayne Koons, after completing his 15-minute suborbital flight. The patch of fluorescent green marker dye in the water around Freedom 7 is particularly obvious. Photo Credit: NASA

In the half-hour between 9:30 and 10 a.m. EDT on this day in 1961, the United States […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 2)

Through a combination of enthusiasm for space exploration and political need, President John F. Kennedy’s speech on 25 May 1961 defined his short-lived administration. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, this week, John Fitzgerald Kennedy—35th President of the United States—gave a speech before Congress which, arguably, defined not only his administration, but also […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 1)

On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. political history, by setting his nation on a course to land a man on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of heroes in the early Space Age, our minds are naturally drawn to the […]

'Man, I Gotta Pee': 55 Years Since Freedom 7 Began America's Adventure in Space (Part 1)

Alan Shepard (left) and John Glenn were assigned as prime and backup pilots for America’s first mission into space. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, in the early hours of 5 May 1961, America prepared to launch its first man into space. Navy Cmdr. Alan Shepard would fly a suborbital flight—rising from Pad […]

'We Had 'Em By the Short Hairs': How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 2)

In early 1961, the Mercury Seven were ready to begin the United States’ first missions into space. However, the need to conduct a final unpiloted Mercury-Redstone mission caused America to lose the race to beat the Soviet Union into space. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, next week, on 24 March 1961, the […]

Timid Doctors and Timid Germans: How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 1)

One of the earliest rockets to be launched from Cape Canaveral was the Army’s Redstone missile, which later evolved into the vehicle seen here delivering America’s first man into space. Photo Credit: NASA

More than five decades have now passed since one of the most unfortunate episodes in human spaceflight history. In late […]

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 2)

Yuri Gagarin (left) was proudly displayed to the world by a joyful Nikita Khrushchev (right), who recognized the political and ideological advantage which his flight had acquired over the United States. Photo Credit: Roscosmos/The Telegraph

The location at which the feet of Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin—the first human ever to break the bonds of […]

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 1)

Clad in his orange space suit, Yuri Gagain appears pensive in this image recorded during his journey to the launch pad on 12 April 1961. Photo Credit: Roscomos

In the early hours of 11 April 1961—more than five decades ago—an enormous booster trundled humanity’s first manned spacecraft to its launch site in a […]

To Swim in Space: The World’s First Spacewalk (Part 1)

Forty-nine years ago this month, Alexei Leonov became the first human to see the Earth, unhindered by the confines of a spacecraft, as God or another space traveller might see it. The experience almost cost him his life. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

From the moment he saw it, Alexei Leonov was captivated. He and […]

'I Hope That Flight Works Out For You': 15 Years Since John Glenn's Return to Space

Fifteen years ago today, at age 77, John Glenn became the oldest person ever to venture into space. It is a record which still stands. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago today (29 October), John Glenn became the oldest human ever to venture beyond the thin veil of Earth and into space. He […]