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)

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
157
votes
3answers
23k views

How did the Apollo computers evaluate transcendental functions like sine, arctangent, log?

Navigation with a sextant or maneuvers using gimbal angles might be two examples of cases where an Apollo computer might need to do trigonometry. Trigonometric functions like sine, arctangent, etc. ...
64
votes
1answer
8k views

How is stacking oranges in 24 dimensions related to receiving and decoding signals from the Voyagers?

I was listening to Sphere Packing Solved in Higher Dimensions; A Ukrainian mathematician has solved the centuries-old sphere-packing problem in dimensions eight and 24. and reading the transcript ...
63
votes
4answers
15k views

How did people know how to build the first space ship?

How did the early designers of spacecrafts have any idea what space was actually like? How was a vessel ever constructed that actually flew through Earth's atmosphere without burning up, and then ...
59
votes
6answers
11k views

When was Newton "not good enough" for spaceflight; first use and first absolute requirement for relativistic corrections?

Concepts in Special Relativity (1905) and of General relativity (first developed between 1907 and 1915) substantially predated spaceflight; they were well known and had been tested well before objects ...
58
votes
7answers
55k 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, ...
57
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
45
votes
2answers
34k views

What is the difference between Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center?

Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center are both at pretty much the same location in Florida. I do not understand why they are referenced separately in media. How much are they separate entities? Is ...
44
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
40
votes
4answers
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 ...
37
votes
7answers
10k 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 ...
36
votes
2answers
5k views

Was the "Earthrise" witnessed by Apollo 8 the first available "full" photo of the Earth?

Was the video/photos taken during the earth-rise on the Apollo 8 flight the first "blue marble"-esque photo? I've heard the image equated to the "earth's first selfie" and question the technical ...
35
votes
5answers
6k views

Did Sputnik 1 tell us more than "beep"? What science was improved by information gained from its orbiting the Earth?

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite launched by humans to orbit the Earth. This answer begins: Sputnik had just one single job: Prove its existence by sending a simple "beep" ...
35
votes
4answers
6k views

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

For the USA's Mercury flights, a number of tracking stations were installed around the globe. John Glenn's first orbital flight was tracked with them, plus a number of ships. (Tracking stations used ...
34
votes
3answers
17k views

How did the Lunar Module dock with the rest of Apollo 11 and what is the "CSM"?

I'd like to ask if anyone can, in layman's terms, describe the procedure by which the Apollo 11 astronauts were able to get back to their ship? I ask because the most accessible literature on this ...
34
votes
4answers
6k views

When did the concept of "stages" enter rocketry?

The staged rocket design is common now, but at some point in the history of rocket design it must have been revolutionary. When was the staged design introduced? Was it quickly accepted or did it ...
33
votes
1answer
6k views

How did the U.S.S.R manage to rotate the N-1 from horizontal to vertical?

The title says it all - but I heard that NASA considered horizontal integration for the Saturn V couldn't be considered, as lifting the rocket to a vertical position would require an immense ...
31
votes
9answers
5k views

Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

Space News's Human error blamed for Vega launch failure Analysis of the telemetry from the mission, along with data from the production of the vehicle, led them to conclude that cables to two thrust ...
31
votes
1answer
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 ...
30
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do Canopus Star Trackers track Canopus? Why not so Sirius?

Jupiter is magnitude −2.94 to −1.66 and Sirius is −1.46 and Venus stays between -3.8 and -4.8, while Canopus is only −0.74. (more negative is brighter) Question: Other than their namesake, why do ...
28
votes
3answers
5k views

Would it have been possible to launch rockets in secret in the 1960s?

I had a discussion the other day with a friend who claimed that many more cosmonauts were lost during the the Space Race than the Soviet government publicly admitted. He argued that it was easy for ...
27
votes
9answers
10k views

Why would such a powerful computer (or a computer at all) be needed to go to the Moon?

I keep hearing people say things like: Duuuude! It's so insane that we're carrying around phones in our pockets that are a thousand times faster than the computers that took us to the moon! Why do ...
27
votes
1answer
2k views

How did they access the LM to mount the flag package while the Apollo stack was already on the launch pad?

NASA decided rather late to take a flag to the Moon on the Apollo 11 mission. In fact, they were so late that the package containing the flag was only attached to the leg of the LM on July 9th, two ...
27
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
9k views

Have there ever been people trapped in a shut down spacecraft?

I was reading some one-line sad stories and came across this one: Goodbye mission control, thanks for trying. So I was wondering if there have ever been people trapped in a spacecraft without a ...
26
votes
1answer
3k views

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 ...
26
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
26
votes
2answers
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 ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

Gagarin not ejecting from capsule

I'm currently reading a dutch book about the earlier days of manned spaceflight (Ruimtevaart B. van der Klaauw). Published in 1962 In a chapter about Vostok 1 the book reads as following Translated ...
26
votes
1answer
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 ...
26
votes
1answer
2k views

What are some specific examples of the calculations human "computers" did for the Mercury space program?

The movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women who were "computers" for the Mercury space program. They performed calculations related to orbits, launches, aerodynamics, etc. What are ...
25
votes
4answers
6k views

How can Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight be considered to have been orbital, since he did not go all the way around Earth?

How can Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight be considered to have been orbital, since he did not go all the way around Earth? According to the Wikipedia article about Vostok 1, the launch site was near ...
25
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the largest number of humans in space at the same time and what vessels were they on when it happened?

What is the largest number of human beings in space at the same time, and what vessels were they on when it happened?
25
votes
2answers
15k views

Were the Saturn V construction plans destroyed?

Over the years, I often heard that we would not be able to build a Saturn V again since its construction plans actually have been destroyed. Then again, I heard that there are copies on microfiche or ...
24
votes
1answer
8k views

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 ...
24
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the story behind specific impulse being expressed in seconds?

I've heard a couple of explanations but none of them quite make sense. One was that the German rocket engineers used metric and the American rocket engineers used the English system and seconds were ...
24
votes
2answers
880 views

How would the space shuttle have been retrieved following a TAL out of Vandenberg?

Had the space shuttle ever launched out of Vandenberg AFB, its primary transoceanic abort landing (TAL) site would have been Mataveri International Airport (SCIP) on Rapa Nui (Easter Island; Isla de ...
24
votes
2answers
3k views

Will the foot print of Neil Armstrong erode?

The Moon has a very thin (practically non-existent) atmosphere so the foot print left by Neil Armstrong won't be eroded for centuries. But there are solar winds. Is it possible that solar wind would ...
24
votes
2answers
7k views

When did the term "Space" first come into use?

When did "Space" become the accepted terminology for the area beyond the Earth's atmosphere? What, if anything, was it called before it became known as "Space"?
23
votes
3answers
8k views

Can we write with chalk on blackboard in space?

There was an ongoing discussion on how fisher pen was invented independently for safer writing method. I was just wondering weather we can use chalk and blackboard in space? Also if there are ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

What equipment was taken from Earth to the surface of the Moon and back?

During the Apollo missions, basically everything was left behind as soon as it was no longer needed. Of the approximately 45-48 tons that the CSM+LM weighed at launch, only 10% made it back to Earth. ...
23
votes
4answers
6k views

Was the Soviet N1 really capable of sending 9.6 GB/s of telemetry?

On the Wikipedia page for Soviet N1, it says of the control system: The telemetry system relayed data back at an estimated rate of 9.6 gigabytes per second on 320,000 channels on 14 frequencies. ...
23
votes
2answers
4k views

Is true that Armstrong was not designated as first to walk on the moon?

A documentary on Apollo program (I can't remember the name at the moment) states that Aldrin and not Armstrong was the first astronaut designated to walk on the moon. But after LEM landed, mission ...
23
votes
1answer
583 views

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 ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Why was orbital rendezvous considered so controversial?

It's popularly understood that the Apollo program only selected lunar-orbital rendezvous as a mission profile after first thoroughly rejecting the direct ascent profile. It seems as though the ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

Did Sputnik 1 have attitude control?

The (currently only) answer to Why did Sputnik 1 have four antennas? discusses how Sputnik 1 had four antennas in order to ensure that the Earth would never be in the null of any of its antennas. ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Function of the separated, individual solar cells on Telstar 1 and 2? Why were they "special"?

The image below shows a part of a backup satellite for Telstar 1 and 2. In addition to the many small and highly segmented solar panels, there are what look like individual elements of the same kind ...
22
votes
1answer
6k views

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. ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

Has sound ever been used to diagnose a problem not shown by other measurements?

In a video released by NASA here, showing Perseverance recording one of Ingenuity's flights, they have the quotes: Sound adds a new dimension to space exploration. and As a mechanic listens to a ...
21
votes
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?

1
2 3 4 5
11