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Questions tagged [history]

Questions pertaining to the history of space exploration.

33
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7answers
8k views

What are the most serious injuries that astronauts have suffered while in orbit?

Among astronauts in orbit, what is the worst real injury recorded? Has anyone hit himself on the thumb with a hammer or something? Squeezed a finger in a closing door? Gotten poisoned by some leaking ...
6
votes
1answer
120 views

Is NSTS 08209 “Shuttle Systems Design Criteria” available online?

This would be a handy reference, to say the least. There is a paper copy in at least one library in Houston, so it's not inconceivable that it's online somewhere, but my searches to date have failed.
4
votes
0answers
82 views

When were these Pegasus photos taken?

This NASA Spaceflight Tweet shows historical photos of (presumably) Antonio Elias wishing Pegasus well. Does anyone know for sure if these are circa the first flight in 1990? Before or after? ...
10
votes
1answer
633 views

Largest inhabitable volume in space

When you look at space ships, capsules and stations, one thing that is lacking in space is… space. As in: pressurized volume a human can freely move in. Most are tiny tin cans. So I was wondering, ...
1
vote
1answer
267 views

What was the first space tourism company?

What was the first company that came up with the business plan of taking tourists to space? In which year was the company launched or the outline of the business plan known to public? What was the ...
4
votes
2answers
228 views

Why did these cosmonauts retire early in their careers?

Is it known why Roman Romanenko and Dmitry Kondratyev retired early in their careers as cosmonauts?
3
votes
1answer
154 views

How did NASA refer to dates and times of a mission in the 1970s?

Back in the 1970s, how did NASA describe when an event happened during a mission? For example, when Mariner 10 did its fly-by of Venus, how did the Mariner team refer to that moment in time? Did ...
17
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3answers
3k views

Why was Titan the first celestial body beyond Mars to be landed on?

If my memories are accurate, then there's only one celestial body beyond Mars, on which any man-made device was landed. Pictures made there are, in fact, quite popular among space fans. But why Titan?...
11
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2answers
379 views

Pre-flight concepts of space travel

In periods before human flight, did scientists, philosophers, or other thinkers seriously consider space travel and exploration a possibility? I have come across nineteenth-century discussions of ...
4
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1answer
517 views

How much resolution did gravitational maps of Earth have before GRACE?

Today, our highest-resolution gravitational maps of the Earth are from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) project, launched in 2002. Before GRACE, how fine was the resolution of ...
5
votes
1answer
69 views

Earliest gravitational map of a planet/moon?

When was the first gravitational map of a planet or moon made by measurements from space? I'm guessing it was a map of Earth, since that's the closest planet to us,[citation needed] but for all I've ...
12
votes
1answer
160 views

What was the earliest piece of debris to survive reentry?

Most orbital debris eventually re-enters the atmosphere. The vast majority of this burns up on re-entry, and only a small proportion of what's left lands on the surface. Of that small proportion, the ...
5
votes
1answer
93 views

What is a “Big Box” (referenced in GT-3 mission transcripts)?

I randomly stumbled across this old Gemini 3 mission transcript online. On the last page, after splash-down, the crew begins corresponding with "Big Box 15" and "Big Box 14" — I'm assuming these are ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Venera mission image data format

I often work with the programmatic manipulation of images and 3d environments in my work at an engineering firm. Out of pure curiosity I was wondering about the Venera mission data format. I read that ...
4
votes
0answers
190 views

From where is this sequence in the Apollo 13 (movie) extra material showing Gene Kranz?

In the Apollo 13 movie extra material, there are several documentary shots interspersed with commentary about the makings of the movie. I am interested in the sequence beginning at about 29 minutes (...
4
votes
1answer
235 views

What scientific and technological advances were prompted directly by Sputnik 1?

It's easy to say in retrospect that the USSR's Sputnik 1 was just a dumb radio transmitter that didn't actually do anything useful. However, it also stands to reason that putting that same "dumb ...
4
votes
1answer
237 views

What budgetary and technical impact did the N1 program's failure have on the Soviet Union's space program?

After the failure of the N1 program, what impact did this have on the budget for the space program of the Soviet Union? What technical impacts did it have? For example, did other missions suffer ...
19
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2answers
3k views

What caused the N1 to become a failure?

What were key factors that made the N1 the recipe for disaster it became for the USSR? Especially when the USSR was the Space King at the time?
39
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3answers
9k views

Why was Venus rather than Mars targeted for the first interplanetary landings?

This is a question about early planetary missions. It looks like there was only one early (unsuccessful) landing mission to Mars and that subsequently Venus became the target for interplanetary ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did the Vanguard rocket use a solid engine for its third stage?

The Vanguard rocket had three stages. The first two were liquid-fueled and the third was solid-fueled. That struck me as odd, as solid fuel engines are almost exclusively used in atmosphere, and you'd ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

First sounding rocket to reach the mesosphere?

The mesosphere (the part of the atmosphere above the stratosphere where temperatures increase with altitude) is generally above the altitude reachable by balloon. It begins somewhere around 50 km. ...
1
vote
1answer
77 views

Book recommendation for history of spaceflight [closed]

I am interested in the history of space-flight and was wondering if anyone had any good book suggestions. I have no scientific background, but am more interested in the science behind the space ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What did they expect to happen with Laika?

Before sending first dog to space, the only animals sent to space were fruit flies. Flies made it back alive, but in case of dog we are talking about a much more complex organism. Image Source: Time ...
12
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4answers
679 views

What was the reason for an odd number of astronauts in almost every group of the early US space program?

We are familiar with the first groups of NASA astronauts, like the Mercury Seven and the New Nine. Something about that struck me as (literary) odd; All the first twelve astronaut groups had an odd ...
8
votes
1answer
239 views

Did Skylab have a fixed orientation?

I can not find any reference for this, but it seems to me that Skylab, unlike the International Space Station, had a fixed attitude instead of rotating to have the same side always facing the Earth. ...
8
votes
3answers
564 views

What's the first recorded use of a countdown associated with a rocket launch?

Counting down the seconds leading up to a rocket launch is iconic - certainly it seems that every child knows that after "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" comes "Blast off!" However, the countdown can't always have ...
2
votes
0answers
195 views

Why does NASA use the position title “Pilot”' for crew members who are not in charge of piloting the spacecraft?

Why does NASA use the position title "Pilot"' for crew members who are not in charge of piloting the spacecraft? For example famously Buzz Aldrin's position was Lunar Module Pilot but his spacecraft ...
2
votes
0answers
207 views

What is the total mass of everything launched that are still in space?

Inspired by this question, total mass ever launched to orbit (this is a different question, as many of the things launched have decayed by now.) How much of it is still up there? Out of that again, ...
14
votes
2answers
512 views

Before the Columbia accident, were there shuttle manifests/plans for after ISS assembly complete?

Before the loss of Columbia during the STS-107 mission on February 1 2003, the International Space Station was scheduled to reach "Core Complete" status in February 2004. (Although this was ...
4
votes
1answer
134 views

What exactly did the Outer Planets Panel say in their recommendation for outer planets missions?

In the 1960s, James Van Allen's Outer Planets Panel made a proposal that NASA begin planning missions to the outer planets, that eventually led to Pioneer 10 and 11. I've found many sources that ...
0
votes
1answer
428 views

Is there a comprehensive list of all space probes ever launched?

I'm working on a project and I was wondering if there is a comprehensive archive or a database available out there of all of the spacecrafts and human made probes that were ever launched into space (...
2
votes
1answer
257 views

Spatial solar panels area density through history [closed]

When working on a project, it is often useful to predict what will happen in the future, 5 or 10 years from now. Past data is needed in order to extrapolate them and make accurate predictions. How can ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

When/where did the cosmonauts fight wolves?

When/where did the cosmonauts fight wolves? or was it bears? With a gun? Could someone provide a more complete story? One of comments on the article TidalWave linked in the Soyuz joysticks question ...
6
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3answers
228 views

Disc mounted on lunar rover?

My father told me of a story that while he was young working at an electronics company, they all signed a disc that was shrunk down and mounted to one of the lunar rovers. Does anyone know anything ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the science behind the canals of Mars?

A recent BBC news article give a short history on the canals of Mars In the late 19th Century, the American astronomer Percival Lowell thought he saw canals on the surface of Mars. He ...
35
votes
3answers
5k views

If there's nothing special about Pluto, why was it discovered so early?

Pluto was recently re-classified, losing its official status as the ninth planet, because a bunch of other dwarf planets were found in its orbital region that were too numerous and insignificant to ...
15
votes
2answers
451 views

Early high-inclination crewed flights

I noticed to my surprise today that the very early Soviet flights were to a very high inclination - all the Vostok flights were between 64.9° and 65°, and the Voskhod flights were at 64.7° and 64.8°. ...
3
votes
1answer
204 views

What is the word for the period between two Mars conjunctions?

Earth and Mars have conjunctions every 15/7 of a year, or every 26 month or every 2 years. And it varies substantially from conjunction to conjunction because of orbital precessions and eccentricities....
27
votes
5answers
5k views

Is there any evidence that NASA was worried about deep lunar dust?

It was once theorized that the moon might have deep oceans of dust, potentially a problem for any craft landing on its surface. I've heard that NASA was concerned about this possibility in the early ...
12
votes
1answer
491 views

Was there ever a non-sterilized probe sent to a celestial body?

A shootoff from my other question, has there ever been a deep space probe that was not sterilized to prevent micro-organism contamination of the celestial body? I'm thinking early space age history, ...
10
votes
1answer
690 views

Space Station Battle: Could the Almaz gun depressurize the ISS?

Background The second Soviet Almaz military space station both had and tested an externally-mounted autocannon, specifically a Rikhter R-23 (according to some sources). It had 32 rounds of ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Why was Skylab allowed to fall, instead of being pushed into a higher orbit and preserved for the future?

Consider how valuable ancient artifacts are to us. look at this fancy stick! In as little as a few hundred years debris from skylab would be way more valuable. I'm baffled why the agency didn't want ...
5
votes
2answers
598 views

What were the highest quality photos and knowledge of Uranus and Neptune before Voyager?

From my related question, I'm still in search of historical knowledge of the outer planets. That is, how our understanding of them developed over time. So right now I'm hunting for the highest ...
35
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5answers
19k views

Who coined the phrase 'Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly'?

Usually simply abbreviated as a RUD, and also sometimes expanded as Rapid Unplanned Disassembly, and being a way of understating that a rocket exploded. I saw it attributed recently to Elon Musk, ...
12
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1answer
698 views

Do Mariner 4 hand rendered images still exist?

At the NASA web site is a story about how the first images returned from Mariner 4 were rendered by hand. Do these images still exist, for example in a museum?
19
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2answers
6k views

Was Valentina Tereshkova pregnant while in space?

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. I have been reading the book called "The Astronaut Wives club". In it, they discuss women flying in space, and mention that Valentina was the first ...
0
votes
1answer
146 views

Given hypothetical support post WWII, where would space exploration be today? [closed]

I realize this may belong over in SciFi & Fantasy, but it's Friday and maybe the experts here will humor me. Imagine if you will that the Cold War never happened. Instead, after WWII the ...
2
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1answer
251 views

What is a Michielsen chart and how should one use it?

I've read about a Michielsen chart, but cannot currently find Kaplan's 1976 book. What is this chart? Is it outdated nowadays?
17
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1answer
4k views

Could the Soviets have rounded the Moon before Apollo? Why didn't they?

Neither the USSR nor Russia has ever sent a cosmonaut beyond low Earth orbit. In the 1960's it would've been very challenging for them to land a cosmonaut on the Moon, and their attempts were aborted. ...
14
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3answers
1k views

Did we know the gas planets were truly gaseous before Pioneer 10?

I'm asking for historical scientific knowledge of our understanding of the outer planets, which seems hard to come by. Pioneer 10 was the first probe to an outer planet (Jupiter). Before then, did we ...