Friday, January 22, 2016

Guest Post by Francis French: Review of "Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight"

Cover of Leaving Orbit. Image Credit: Amazon.com
Occasionally, this blog features other contributors; on this occasion we are happy to host this review by space historian and author Francis French of Margaret Lazarus Dean's recently-published book, Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight. Read more after the jump...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Space Myths Busted: Gus Grissom Didn't Blow The Hatch on Liberty Bell 7

Astronaut Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom is inserted into his Liberty Bell 7 capsule on the morning of July 21, 1961. He would soon be embroiled in a controversy that lingers to this day. Photo Credit: NASA
In this installment of “Space Myths Busted,” I'll tackle a myth that somehow still persists to this day despite many attempts to debunk it: On July 21, 1961, shortly after splashdown, a panicked Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom blew the hatch on his Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule shortly after an otherwise successful suborbital spaceflight. A clearly freaked-out Grissom then commenced to flail around in the water prior to being picked up by rescue helicopters. Read more after the jump...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Space Myths Busted: No, There Wasn't A "Mutiny" On Skylab

From NASA: "An overhead view of the Skylab space station cluster in Earth orbit as photographed from the Skylab 4 Command and Service Modules (CSM) during the final fly-around by the CSM before returning home." Photo Credit: NASA
In the first of a series called "Space Myths Busted," I thought I'd take on the oft-reported myth that there was some kind of "strike" or "mutiny" in low-Earth orbit during the Skylab 4 mission, crewed by commander Gerald Carr, pilot William Pogue, and science pilot Ed Gibson. While the crew faced challenges due to being over-tasked early in the mission, nothing like a "mutiny" ever occurred, and with respect to the three crew members, it's time to set the record straight. Read more after the jump...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Do You Really Love MOL and the Space Shuttle? Then You Will Dig "Into The Black"

Into The Black is scheduled to be released on April 19, 2016, shortly after the 35th anniversary of STS-1. Image Credit: Amazon.com
It's late 2015, and I'm already getting a head start on looking at some of the spaceflight books that readers will devour in 2016. One of them is Into The Black by aviation author Rowland White, which is scheduled to be released on April 19, 2016, shortly after the 35th anniversary of the STS-1 launch. If you're like me and OBSESSED with the early space shuttle years... You will be foaming at the mouth over this book, to put it mildly. Read a no-spoilers capsule review after the jump. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When Houston Is The One With A Problem: "Houston, We've Got A Problem," 1974

Ah yes, when the dreaded chest pain strikes while you're wearing a Speedo: Hot Mess Flight "Steve Bell" aka Robert Culp gets ready to writhe upon the ground in very little clothing. You're welcome. All screenshots from 1974's "Houston, We've Got A Problem."
I just finished Rick Houston and Milt Heflin's excellent Go, Flight!: The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965 - 1992, and HAD to view this movie following the book's take down of it. Read more following the jump...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jim Worden Shares Stories of His Flying Career, and His Big Brother, Al - Part Two

"He's not heavy, he's my brother": Jim Worden wheels Al Worden around at Al's 50th birthday party in 1982. The wheelchair was a joke. The party took place at a "home for seniors," with Al being wheeled in by a nurse. Photo Credit: Jim Worden
Earlier this week, readers found out what it was like to be the family member of an astronaut strapped into a Saturn V, on the way to the Moon. In this second part of Jim Worden's unpublished memoirs, Jim discusses what made his older brother have "The Right Stuff," and his own run-ins with a cast of interesting characters, including the King of Rock and Roll, and "a very popular but nasty rock band." Many, many thanks to Francis French and Jim Worden for making these excerpts available. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jim Worden Shares Stories of His Flying Career, and His Big Brother, Al - Part One

Al Worden's family waves goodbye to him prior to his launch to the Moon in July 1971. He is flanked by crewmembers Dave Scott (front) and Jim Irwin (behind Scott). Photo Credit: NASA
While you may have heard of his older brother, Jim Worden has, too, had a colorful life and career. Also a pilot, Jim has flown many celebrities around the world, and like his brother, has run into some very interesting characters. Here are some excerpts from Jim Worden's unpublished autobiography, where he discusses the genesis of his passion for aviation, his career, and, of course, stories about his brother's "camping trip" that happened to take him approximately 240,000 miles from Earth. Many thanks to author Francis French for making these excerpts available.