Saturday, June 25, 2016

Space Myths Busted: Buran Isn't This New Thing, People Have Known About This For Decades, And No, I Won't Write A Feature-Length Article About It

From Wikipedia: "Visitors at the 38th Paris International Air and Space Show at Le Bourget Airfield line up to tour a Soviet An-225 Mechta aircraft that is carrying the Space Shuttle Buran on its back." Posted by Master Sgt. Dave Casey on Wikipedia Commons.
I figured while I still have an audience after Spacefest VII (praise the Lort, I didn’t scare anyone off), I might as well address the dozens of links many have seen on Space Hipsters concerning the Soviet Buran space shuttle, and the copious requests I’ve received to write an article/articles about that subject. I’ll proceed with this anatomy of a year-long struggle, and underscore how one space program caused me to lose some sleep, not enjoy life anymore, and cause me to inadvertently amass what is probably the largest Buran paraphernalia collection in the United States… CLICK HERE, YOU WON’T EVEN BELIEVE WHAT IS UNDER THE JUMP! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

You All Need To Know: Skylab Had A Superbadass Solar Telescope

From NASA: "This photograph of the sun, taken on Dec. 19, 1973, during the third and final manned Skylab mission (Skylab 4), shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded, spanning more than 588,000 kilometers (365,000 miles) across the solar surface."
Although its images are largely superseded by ones obtained by modern solar observatories (such as NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory), America’s first space station, Skylab, returned some pretty badass images of our closest star for its time, and had a pretty superbadass, human-helmed solar observatory, the first ever (and only, as far as I know) of its kind.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Remembering The World's Greatest All-Electric Flying Machine: An Interview with "Into The Black" Author Rowland White

From NASA, March 1981 photo: "The space shuttle orbiter Columbia is showered with lights in this nocturnal scene at Launch Pad 39A, as preparations are underway for the first flight (STS-1) of NASA's new reusable spacecraft system. Astronauts John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen are in training for the flight." 
Today, we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the launch of the first U.S. space shuttle mission, STS-1. While many associate this historic event with John W. Young and Bob Crippen, often major players in space shuttle development (both human and machine) are lost in the program's dense, decades-long history. 


Rowland White's book Into The Black launches on Tuesday, April 19th, days after the 35th anniversary of Columbia's iconic first flight. Photo Credit: Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster
Enter author Rowland White, whose book, Into The Black, will be published in hardcover by Touchstone Books on Tuesday, April 19th. The book's foreword was written by astronaut Richard Truly, himself an STS-1 backup crew member. His book gives due credit to the figures who were, in many ways, just as responsible for the success of the first, very risky "test" flight. In addition, the book examines the complicated relationship between the "black" National Reconnaissance Office and how it contributed to one of NASA's finest missions (which, very possibly, could have turned into a tragedy). 

This Space Available was fortunate to interview White about Into The Black. Note: minor book spoilers included. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Greatest Mid-1970s Launch Photo Ever? Behold This Titan IIIE/Centaur Doin' Its Thang

From NASA: "On August 20, 1975, Viking 1 was launched by a Titan/Centaur rocket from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:22 p.m. EDT to begin a half-billion mile, 11-month journey through space to explore Mars. The 4-ton spacecraft went into orbit around the red planet in mid-1976." Photo Credit: NASA
This itty-bitty version doesn't do it justice, but in my estimation, this is one of the most spectacular launch photos of all time (for a larger hi-resolution version, check out this link). The Titan IIIE/Centaur, THE magnificent launch vehicle of the mid-1970s, is seen here lofting one of the decade's iconic spacecraft on course for an unprecedented journey to Mars. In addition, the summer-y, late afternoon pastel colors and Florida palm trees are nice aesthetic touches.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Finding NEEMO: Revisiting Scott Carpenter and Sealab II, 1965

More than an astronaut, from May 22, 1962: "Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter, prime pilot for the Mercury-Atlas 7 (MA-7) flight, is seen in Hanger S crew quarters during a suiting exercise. He smiles at camera as suiting technician Al Rochford adjusts his suit." Photo Credit: NASA 
In my estimation, Mercury Seven astronaut Scott Carpenter has been the target of some rather unfair attacks from many people concerning his performance during his 1962 Aurora 7 orbital mission. That topic merits a whole separate blog post in itself, but to be blunt, Carpenter's own account is best told in his autobiography For Spacious Skies, co-written with editor and writer Kris Stoever (who is also the astronaut's daughter). Out of respect, I think I'll let the man – who left us in 2013 – tell that story himself. While that subject has been somewhat “controversial,” a couple of things cannot be disputed: Carpenter more than earned his place among the greats in spaceflight history, and deserves respect. 

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...