Questions tagged [history]

Questions pertaining to the history of space exploration.

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Why were Robert Goddard's later launches in New Mexico?

Robert Goddard was born, educated, taught, and performed the first liquid-fuel rocket flight in Massachusetts. Why then were his later launches done in New Mexico?
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Where in orbit was Michael Collins when the LM landed?

In the NPR podcast On Apollo 11 Anniversary, A Former Crew Member Reflects On The Lunar Trip Scott Simon interviews Michael Collins. Near the beginning is this exchange: SIMON: We asked the man who ...
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Did the 1202 error and associated reboot prevent disaster on Apollo 11 landing?

Most accounts of the famous 1202 error reported by the AGS during landing of the Apollo 11 LM characterize the event as result of the successful operation of the AGS, flushing an resetting an ...
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36 views

When did an astronaut in space first see someone on a TV screen?

The Apollo missions had video cameras and transmitted live images to Earth. But what about the other direction -- astronauts seeing live images of people on Earth? Question: When did an astronaut in ...
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Why did Columbia’s planned flight manifest have a five-year gap with absolutely nothing in it between 2004 and 2009?

Looking at the pre-loss-of-OV-102 plans for then-future shuttle flights (at least according to the document found and scanned by @OrganicMarble and posted as part of this answer, which was drawn up [...
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Did anyone predict no return to the Moon for 50 years?

Back in the Apollo days, did anyone predict that there would be no return (of humans) to the Moon for 50 years? I remember some scepticism about the scientific, economic or military value of such ...
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Are any Apollo Launch Mission Rule Documents available for downloading?

Apollo Flight Mission Rule Documents (from JSC) are easy to find on the internet, but the Launch Mission Rule Documents (from KSC) - not so much. I found a couple paper copies for sale, but that's ...
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Which map is right? Where exactly were the two Australian dish antennas used in the Apollo missions?

There are two answers to How did NASA achieve their live TV broadcast in 1969? and each has a map that denotes the location of the following two sites Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station Parkes Radio ...
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In this iconic lunar orbit rendezvous photo of John Houbolt, why do arrows #5 and #6 point the “wrong” way?

The NPR.org news item Meet John Houbolt: He Figured Out How To Go To The Moon, But Few Were Listening shows the iconic photo of John Houbolt next to a black board showing a free return scenario. I ...
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What was this capsule dropped from a truck?

I've been watching the PBS American Experience documentary, and they showed a brief clip of some accidents at NASA. One involved a capsule being carried on the back of a truck, on some kind of crane. ...
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What's the record for the fastest trip to the Moon?

The line "Therefore the USSR sent detailed instructions to Jodrell Bank how to find their second lunar probe, Luna 2, that was launched on 12 September 1959 and hit the moon the next day." from ...
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180 views

Did NASA muzzle Wernher von Braun during the moon landings?

Wernher von Braun was brought from Germany to the United States at the end of World War II, to develop missiles for the U.S. Army. In addition to working for the military, he helped to popularize the ...
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322 views

Why alcohol had been selected as fuel for the first American space rockets?

I was surprised to read that Redstone used 75% ethyl alcohol as a fuel. Looks like this idea was abandoned later, and modern rockets use rectified petroleum or liquid hydrogen instead for burning with ...
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What “fuel more powerful than anything the West (had) in stock” put Laika in orbit aboard Sputnik 2?

The BBC World Service Radio Witness History podcast Laika, the first dog in space contains a short audio clips from some vintage 1950's British news. At 02:30 in a ...
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Usage of “weight-to-thrust” instead of “thrust-to-weight”

Section 4.1.5 of the Apollo Program Summary Report states The major design criteria for the Saturn I were: a. Minimum vehicle lift-off weight to thrust ratio I've usually seen the reverse ...
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American spies in Russia 1956 [migrated]

In 1956 my father, John J. Glennon (Librarian for the what is not the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) was one of the few fluent Russian speakers in the US at the time, as I ...
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203 views

What's the “big monstrosity” mentioned by the Apollo 11 crew?

Mission day three, sitting in lunar orbit, the LM docked to the CM, and this conversation happens: What are they talking about? "Little fluorescent circles"? "All the engineering that went into ...
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104 views

What exactly are Tindallgrams? (spaceflight related)

The word "Tindallgram" appears in three posts: this answer to How complex was the math and physics necessary to place Apollo 11 on the moon? What is a “Lear Processor” and how did it work? this ...
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Was this 1969 space shuttle feasiblity study too optimistic?

Why looking for something else on the NASA Tech Reports Server, I found this interesting October 1969 study on the expected turnaround time of a then-future space shuttle. Study was conducted by the ...
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Is this really the Saturn V computer only, or are there other systems here as well?

The BBC News article Apollo in 50 Numbers; The Technology shows an image of the Saturn V's computer along with the caption: The Saturn V's computer was probably the largest computer ever blasted ...
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103 views

Why aren't rockets launched by a ground explosion through a gun barrel? [duplicate]

I'm watching this clip of a Russian anti-sat or anti-ICBM rocket launched from a silo and of course note that its early acceleration is much higher than for large spacecraft launchers. Why isn't cargo ...
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How did sloshing prevent the Apollo Service Module from moving safely away from the Command Module and how was this fixed?

The Insider.com article 'We could have lost the Apollo 11 crew:' A once-classified anomaly nearly killed NASA's first moon astronauts, a new book reveals describes a problem during reentry of several ...
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Apollo Mission Control Room 2, how do these decimal number displays work?

In a recent question there was a link to this arsTECHNICA page. One of the pictures of digital clock displays: How do these decimal number displays work? I guess there are assembleys of a mask with ...
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Apollo Mission Operations Control Room 2 display, what do these numbers indicate?

There are some really beautiful photos in Ars Technica's NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of ’60s life, frozen in amber See also NYTimes' NASA Reopens Apollo Mission Control Room ...
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What “flight-ready version” of the Lunar Module is in a museum on Long Island, NY?

Ars Technica's Via the BBC, find out how Apollo 11’s Eagle actually landed says: I've also learned things about the Lunar Module itself, including that it was made nearby on Long Island, where a ...
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Was “I have the farts, again” broadcast from the Moon to the whole world?

The BBC News article Apollo in 50 numbers: Medicine and health says: When Apollo 16 commander John Young walked on the Moon, he shared his feelings on the new diet with his companion Charlie Duke. ...
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Luna 15 - Any official confirmation of objectives?

Russia's Luna 15 crashed into the lunar surface shortly after Apollo 11 landed. It's widely considered a failed sample return mission, but did Russia ever officially announce that sample return was ...
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102 views

Was there a history of segmented solid rockets prior to the Shuttle?

The Shuttle famously (perhaps infamously) had its solid rocket boosters built in segments, which were transported to KSC and then joined together. The SLS will similarly have segmented SRBs. Were ...
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What were the Top 10 Shuttle Risks in John Young's “famous letter”?

Whilst reading A Technical History of the External Tank I ran across this comment: Although the problem has not recurred, John Young, in his famous top ten Shuttle risk letter ...
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Project Mercury capsule switch orientation

I noticed that the majority of the toggle switches in the Mercury capsules move in a left-to-right manner. This seems unusual to me, since Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle all predominantly use up-down ...
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Which two spacecraft have spent the longest times in libration point orbits? (Lagrange points, Halo, Lissajous, etc.)

Libration point orbit is a general term including halos, Lissajous', and a whole zoo of others associated with Lagrange points in three-body systems. Which two spacecraft has been in such an orbit ...
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75 views

Where is Farside's 4th stage?

This answer has a lot of images that I shouldn't need to repost here, and is supplemental to this answer to the question Help me understand what Farside, a ten “stage” rockoon looked like? How was it ...
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Why was this point chosen as the origin for the Saturn V coordinate system?

David Hammen gently corrected my erroneous comment on this fine answer to the question: How is the height of a rocket measured? by pointing out the following figure in the Project Apollo Coordinate ...
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What fractions of the time did Skylab spend in Earth-oriented and Sun-oriented attitudes?

The Introduction section of NASA Technical Memo TM-X-64628 Angular momentum desaturation for Skylab using gravity gradient torques begins: The Skylab Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) experiments ...
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Are the Voyager spacecrafts' X-band TWTAs currently set to high or low transmit power? How often were they changed?

In this answer I discuss that the Voyager spacecraft can be commanded to use either high or low power to transmit to Earth on X-band. Question: Are the Voyager spacecrafts' X-band Traveling Wave Tube ...
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221 views

What is this strange, liquid-cooled tube hanging in a wind tunnel?

Near the end of the NASA video Rocket Engine Testing the NASA Way! there is an image that appears to be archival an possibly quite old. It's a long cylinder densely wrapped with what I assume is ...
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Help identifying this archival NACA/NASA image of a wind tunnel test object

Near the end of the NASA video Rocket Engine Testing the NASA Way! there is an image that appears to be archival an possibly quite old. It's a metal model of a launch vehicle with two very long ...
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231 views

What is known about these early Falcon XX concepts?

I came across this page with the following picture from 2010: I must say the Falcon X, Falcon X heavy and Falcon XX look rather interesting. Does anybody know of resources that explain the intended ...
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122 views

How many AGC keystrokes did an Apollo rendezvous take?

My kids have a rather nice picture book about the first moon landing titled “One Giant Leap”. I find it to be a fairly accurate retelling of the events of Apollo 11 in a poetic style. However, one ...
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106 views

What happened to Starlite? [closed]

I was talking to a person (lets say his name is Tim) that when Tim was a child he remembered in a grade school demonstration on this Starlite material (Starlite is a material claimed to be able to ...
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892 views

Where did Heinlein say “Once you get to Earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System”?

I know what it means. I've seen delta-V charts. But I don't know if Robert Heinlein wrote this down, or simply said it off-the-cuff to somebody. Variations include: "Reach low orbit, and your ...
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Do all US vice presidents get cool jackets?

The Ars Technica article Vice President may tell NASA to accelerate lunar landings starts with "We're tired of generating PowerPoint journeys that don't go anywhere." and explains that one or ...
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Help me understand what Farside, a ten “stage” rockoon looked like? How was it configured?

@OrganicMarble's answer links to NASA Sounding Rockets, 1958-1968, A Historical Summary and in Appendix A starting on page 79 it lists: Farside: A type of rockoon developed by Aeronutronics ...
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What rocket uses the largest percentage of Fuel/Oxidizer before liftoff?

inspired by this question: How much propellant is used up until liftoff? which asks how much propellant (fuel/oxidizer) a typical rocket uses before liftoff. What has been or is the most non-typical ...
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When was the first strap-on booster used in spaceflight?

The first use of the term "strap-on" in Google Ngram viewer is in 1930 and presumably that wasn't about a booster being attached to a rocket for additional thrust at lift-off. When was a strap-on ...
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What was the smallest intentional, acknowledged slingshot maneuver?

I'll keep it short but please read through! Gravitation's $1/r$ potential means everything in the solar system is pulling on everything all the time. Gravitational slingshot maneuvers are normally ...
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798 views

How did the Luna spacecraft collect samples of the moon and containerize them for return to Earth?

The Wikipedia page Sample-return mission and this answer list Luna 16, 20 and 24 missions as each bringing back of the order of 100 grams of lunar material to Earth, but their Wikipedia pages don't ...
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Any earth-based film or color still photography of Apollo CM re-entries?

After watching the IMAX Apollo 11 film today I wondered if there was any film footage from outside of an Apollo Command Module (CM) re-entry (or even color stills). It does not have to be from 11. ...
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Who released pre-launch TLE data for the Space Shuttle?

The question Pre-launch TLEs for NASA launches asks: I was curious if the United States is on the verge of launching maned flights to the ISS, will anyone release Pre-Launch TLE data like was done ...
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What is the universal emblem that represents space exploration?

I am interested if there is an official emblem that represents space exploration worldwide? Are there any small pictures that everyone would recognize or associate to space exploration? I had more ...