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Questions tagged [history]

Questions pertaining to the history of space exploration. Includes how current things will be viewed historically from the future (e.g. Apollo Moon landing sites 100 years from now)

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9 votes
2 answers
408 views

Deke Slayton's Molded Mercury Capsule Couch?

Recently got a hard question from an observant, sharp-eyed, and curious high school astronomy teacher: Reference this article about some of the training the Mercury Seven astronauts did. Note that the ...
11 votes
1 answer
539 views

Has a rocket engine with LOX as the oxidizer ever fired beyond the GEO belt?

Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander is scheduled to launch in mid-February of this year. Notably, the lander uses liquid methane as fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer, and it will rely on this ...
6 votes
1 answer
194 views

Are there any video/audio recordings of the launch of sputnik 1?

I've been researching the launch of sputnik 1, it is often renowned as the event that started the space age though I cannot find any confirmed videos of the launch or even a countdown/audio recording ...
31 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
123 views

What's the theoretical dV of the SNAP-10A satellite?

SNAP-10A, launched in 1965, was the first nuclear reactor tested in orbit. It was intended to produce 500 watts of electricity for a year, but it only lasted 43 days; a voltage regulator in the ...
3 votes
1 answer
280 views

Did anything specific (and interesting) happen on the 16 or 22 March 1992 passes of a Lacrosse I surveillance satellite over Tehran?

After reading the question Predicting non-Iridium flares and Why NOSS satellites flare? I found the following page linked in Wikipedia's Naval Ocean Surveillance System. The h2g2 (The Hitchhiker's ...
6 votes
1 answer
425 views

Has Hubble ever focused on something close enough that it had to move away from being focused at infinity?

Hubble wouldn't have to change focus for Pranksat to work because Pranksat is cleverly designed to present a virtual image with a focus at infinity. But if the diffraction-limited Hubble wanted to ...
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

Who were the youngest and oldest persons in space?

There has been much talk in recent years about the possibility of establishing a permanent space colony somewhere in the solar system. If that happens, it's plausible that somebody will live their ...
6 votes
0 answers
125 views

Has the continued monitoring of the Voyagers probes been in danger of being discontinued, and if so, how many times?

I assume the continued monitoring of the Voyager probes has been part of the annual NASA appropriations and authorization, NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet, for example. Have there ...
3 votes
1 answer
205 views

How was it determined that 1977 was best time to launch voyagers for "grand tour"

Was it multitudinous mathematical trial runs that determined that 1977 was best time within a 176 year period to launch the voyagers? Initial launch was to obtain close encounters with Jupiter and ...
4 votes
1 answer
118 views

Did the ISS CREAM experiment actually get relocated?

A recent update (May 22) to the database for the NASA visualization tool DOUG shows that the CREAM payload has been relocated to the top of the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module - Pressurized ...
16 votes
3 answers
4k views

Has any piston machine been used on a space mission?

Inspired by question about engine lubrication in space. Piston engines are not used for propelling spacecraft, but there are some possible uses for especially Stirling engines and compressors: ...
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Quickest return from stable Earth orbit to ground?

Inspired by this Worldbuilding question about orbital deployment (deploying things to the ground from orbit): What is the quickest that something has actually deorbited and landed from a stable closed ...
2 votes
0 answers
104 views

Were there books published in 1960s to late 1970s that reflected the effect of the Cold War on historians' views of the Space Race?

Were there books published in 1960s to late 1970s that reflected the effect of the Cold War on historians' views of the Space Race of the 1960s?
3 votes
2 answers
292 views

What Earth satellite remained in orbit the longest before reentering?

@BillGray's excellent answer in September 2018 mentions that the Soviet magnetospheric research satellite 1977-093A (NORAD 10370) was expected to reenter the atmosphere in 2019 due to effects ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How did the Corona (Key Hole) satellites film canisters deorbit?

The Corona Photographic Surveillance satellites transferred photos back to Earth by releasing a canister with the film, which would deorbit, re-enter, release a parachute and then a plane would ...
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Which was the first liquid non hypergolic engine to be reignited in space?

Which was the first liquid non hypergolic engine to be reignited in space? ( space = above 100km )
34 votes
2 answers
9k views

What were the differences between the STS Orbiters?

There were six STS orbiter vehicles, of which five were operational for space flight: OV-099: Space Shuttle Challenger OV-101: Space Shuttle Enterprise OV-102: Space Shuttle Columbia OV-103: Space ...
3 votes
0 answers
104 views

Have spherical dish antennae been used with Molniya satellites to avoid switch-over signal loss?

Molniya-orbit communication satellites work well for ground stations near the poles. These high eccentricity, highly inclined orbits, with a period of 12 hours, “loiter” for about 6 hours over the ...
24 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the provenance of this photo of the Great Lakes from space?

My late grandfather owned this photo of the Great Lakes region: We don’t know where this photo is from or how he got it. He was a civilian engineer who worked closely with the Department of Defense ...
8 votes
2 answers
739 views

Why were American Apollo-era launch towers red, and why was the reused elements of the Shuttle-era FSS painted over in grey?

This image of STS-8 shows red peeking through the grey of the launch structure. That got me thinking... Mercury-Atlas launch towers were red (although Mercury-Redstone's towers were yellow, I think) ...
19 votes
8 answers
10k views

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

I know that Saturn V's payload was 140 tons, about 20 times that of Soyuz. The Soviets did not have a functioning rocket with similar characteristics. But why? They had a head start in the space race ...
9 votes
0 answers
242 views

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 ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the lowest-inclination orbit ever achieved by a US crewed spacecraft?

The inclination range from KSC is advertised to be 28 to 62 degrees; what is the lowest inclination ever reached by a US crewed spacecraft?
2 votes
1 answer
80 views

What is the lowest inclination orbit ever achieved by a crewed Soyuz mission?

Inspired by a recent question regarding Soyuz capsules I wondered what is the lowest inclination Soyuz mission? Highest inclination human spaceflights have been asked about here before. Soyuz 22 may ...
0 votes
0 answers
173 views

How often in NASA history was "Houston, we have a problem" or deviations actually said?

The phrase "Houston, we've had a problem" was said by Jim Lovell after the oxygen tank blew up during Apollo 13, and in the movie Tom Hanks playing Jim Lovell said "Houston, we have a ...
2 votes
2 answers
351 views

How did the cost of delivery of cargo into orbit change with technology maturation?

I had an argument with my friend recently about the effect of technology maturation on spaceflight cost. In the process, I managed to find this infographic: Image source The trend for cost reduction ...
1 vote
1 answer
181 views

Instead of ending the Apollo program, why didn't NASA just decrease the frequency of lunar flights?

Russia is launching the completely non-reusable Soyuz rocket about four times a year on manned missions to the ISS, and even more often if you include the Progress cargo launches, not to mention Soyuz ...
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

How did NASA Conclude that the General Theory of Relativity was not Needed for Earth-Moon Flight Path Computation?

This question is wholly seeking historical evidence and not about physics. It is a follow on from the Physics Stack Exchange question: Could we send a rocket to the Moon without knowledge of general ...
2 votes
1 answer
200 views

When would the Soviets have landed on the moon, if NASA had not beaten them to it? [closed]

I know that after the untimely death of Korolev, the crewed moon mission was having struggles, but could they have overcome them? What would their timeline have been? Side question/pure conjecture: ...
2 votes
0 answers
193 views

How many bubble levels have been used in space? Were any of them used some place besides the Moon?

The lunar retroreflectors left by Apollo astronauts had bubble levels and Sun compasses to that they could be oriented correctly with respect to Earth's average direction. This was necessary to ...
1 vote
0 answers
139 views

Was there ever a crewed space mission that could possibly escape the solar system? [duplicate]

The German song "Major Tom" adds a twist onto David Bowie's "Space Oddity", by giving clues to the spacecraft commander Mayor Tom to deliberately abort the mission in favor of ...
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the most heated exoatmospheric conflict to-date?

This tweet by ISS Archaeology (quote-tweeting Norishige Kanai) got me wondering: with all the accumulated time humans have spent in space, surely there have been disagreements, frustration, and ...
3 votes
1 answer
93 views

Why exactly did SOLRAD 1 have a magnet? Why weren't its interactions with Earth's magnetic field anticipated?

Wikipedia's SOLRAD_1; Scientific results says: The satellite communicated results in real-time, which meant that data could only be received when there was a tracking station within range – either ...
25 votes
1 answer
785 views

Does the post Apollo 13 roast mixtape still exist?

The debriefing party at the Hofbraugarten was merciless, beginning with a parody of the mission. The tape prepared by the Apollo 13 backup crew and the CapComs was not for the thin-skinned. The parody ...
63 votes
8 answers
7k views

How do we know the Apollo Moon landings are real?

Since about 1976, conspiracy theories denying the Moon landing and claiming it was all faked have cropped up. As a website devoted to answering questions about space exploration, we receive questions ...
22 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the current location of Link-built Apollo Mission Simulators?

I was confused about the final disposition of, and even the number of, Apollo Mission Simulators built by Link Flight Simulation Division. This question is not about any simulator built by any other ...
11 votes
3 answers
5k views

Did Wernher von Braun really have the "Saturn V painted as the V2"?

A comment below the question Did von Braun have “a thing” for fins? Why did Saturn I block 2 get fins because it's a “von Braun” rocket? suggests that Wernher von Braun had the "Saturn V painted as ...
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What Voyager spacecraft hardware performed transmitted data coding in such a complicated way? Did ground decoding use “a big monster filling a rack”?

The now-famous answer to How is stacking oranges in 24 dimensions related to receiving and decoding signals from the Voyagers? is worth stopping now here and going back and reading first. Okay welcome ...
5 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why did the Space Race end on the Moon?

Why did both the USA and the USSR decide to put a person on the Moon and then 'end' the space race, having 'won'? Why didn't the space race go on infinitely: who would fly the first astronauts to ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why was Redstone Arsenal specifically chosen for post-war rocket development?

We have had questions on the origin of JSC, KSC, White Sands, and Wallops Island. Today is MSFC's turn. After World War II, many of the officials of the German rocket program -- including leader ...
2 votes
0 answers
268 views

First instance of a frangible nut in space? Which space-nut was first successfully "franged"?

Wikipedia's Frangible nut begins: Not to be confused with Explosive bolt. The frangible nut is a component used in many industries, but most commonly by NASA[citation needed], to sever mechanical ...
34 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why did NASA set up a computing facility in Bermuda in the Mercury epoch?

I'm reading Hidden Figures, and I'm puzzled by an assertion Shetterly makes in a section describing the first few electronic computers installed at NASA, in the run-up to the Mercury project at around ...
27 votes
2 answers
2k views

What's the coin on the Curiosity rover?

The image above was taken from the Curiosity rover (I hope). There appears to be a coin in the image. Is that really a coin or some kind of button? Is it really present on the rover? If it is ...
0 votes
1 answer
340 views

Why is the Fermi paradox' assumptions so strong? Do they even need to be?

The Fermi paradox first states that it is highly likely that intelligent lives have existed on planets long ago. As in, not just on one planet, but on billions of planets. Then the paradox goes on and ...
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the name of NASA's program to prevent back-contamination by crews returning to Earth?

I remember reading a Wikipedia article that in the initial years of space exploration NASA had a standing crew of bulldozers to bury any landing site or research facility exploring material from ...
8 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who was the first to successfully implement on practice ablative heat shield?

Up until Shuttle/Buran era, all manned orbital reentry vehicles used ablative heat shield for reentry (Vostok, Mercury, Voskhod, Gemini, Soyuz, Apollo). This made me curious about who was the first in ...
5 votes
1 answer
432 views

Did the Apollo program deliberately hire younger and less-experienced engineers and staff?

I remember having read some time ago that for the Apollo program (and probably the related Mercury/Gemini ones), NASA deliberately hired younger and less-experienced engineers and staff. The supposed ...
13 votes
2 answers
364 views

Unknown spacecraft reference. "Wang's vehicle"

I've got a mystery for you today: In Dan Sharp's book, "British Secret Projects - 5 - Britain's Space Shuttle" ISBN:,9781910809020 MUSTARD (Multi Unit Space Transport And Reuse Device) is ...

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