Category Archives: History

The Blue Streak Rocket

The Blue Streak developed by Britain started out as a military weapon in 1955. The military aspect of the programme was ended in 1960 and was reassigned to the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) to launch satellites into orbit.

Britain pulled out of the ELDO in 1971, the last (British) Blue Streak programme launch was on 12 Jaunuary 1970 and the last ELDO Blue Streak launch being from French Guyana in 1971.

The entire ELDO project was canceled in 1973 and was replaced the the European Space Agency (ESA) we know today.

SpaceX CRS-11 Launch – SCRUBBED

Today’s launch was scrubbed due to weather so now we go to the back up date:

Launch Date/Time: 03 June at 21:07 UTC / 17:07 ET.

Alternate dates:
Historical note: This will be the 100th launch from Kennedy’s LC-39A.

Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket after 10 minutes of flight. The Falcon 9 will then attempt a landing at the SpaceX Landing Zone (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.

If all goes according to plan the Dragon cargo ship will dock with the International Space Station on 04 June.

The Gallaudet Eleven

Here’s a very nice piece written by Hannah Hotovy, NASA History Division Intern, Spring 2017 (Andres Almeida Editor). Had Hannah not written this the efforts of the the Gallaudet Eleven might not have been known by the public. These people were pioneers and made fantastic efforts to advance human spaceflight. Thanks Hannah!

The image above depicts study participants chat in the zero-g aircraft that flew out of Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. Credits: U.S. Navy/Gallaudet University collection

Here’s her article:
Before NASA could send humans to space, the agency needed to better understand the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body. So, in the late 1950s, NASA and the U.S. Naval School of Aviation Medicine established a joint research program to study these effects and recruited 11 deaf men aged 25-48 from Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University). Today, these men are known to history as the “Gallaudet Eleven,” and their names are listed below:
Harold Domich
Robert Greenmun
Barron Gulak
Raymond Harper
Jerald Jordan
Harry Larson
David Myers
Donald Peterson
Raymond Piper
Alvin Steele
John Zakutney

All but one had become deaf early in their lives due to spinal meningitis, which damaged the vestibular systems of their inner ear in a way that made them “immune” to motion sickness. Throughout a decade of various experiments, researchers measured the volunteers’ non-reaction to motion sickness on both a physiological and psychological level, relying on the 11 men to report in detail their sensations and changes in perception. These experiments help to improve understanding of how the body’s sensory systems work when the usual gravitational cues from the inner ear aren’t available (as is the case of these young men and in spaceflight). “We were different in a way they needed,” said Harry Larson, one of the volunteer test subjects.

The experiments tested the subjects’ balance and physiological adaptations in a diverse range of environments. One test saw four subjects spend 12 straight days inside a 20-foot slow rotation room, which remained in a constant motion of ten revolutions per minutes. In another scenario, subjects participated in a series of zero-g flights in the notorious “Vomit Comet” aircraft to understand connections between body orientation and gravitational cues. Another experiment, conducted in a ferry off the coast of Nova Scotia, tested the subjects’ reactions to the choppy seas. While the test subjects played cards and enjoyed one another’s company, the researchers themselves were so overcome with sea sickness that the experiment had to be canceled. The Gallaudet student test subjects reported no adverse physical effects and, in fact, enjoyed the experience. Test participant Barron Gulak later remarked about such experiments: “In retrospect, yes, it was scary…but at the same time we were young and adventurous.”

Based on their findings from a decade’s worth of experimentation, researchers gained insight into the body’s sensory systems and their responses to foreign gravitational environments. Through their endurance and dedication, the work of the Gallaudet Eleven made substantial contributions to the understanding of motion sickness and adaptation to spaceflight.

Deaf Difference + Space Survival is currently on display at Gallaudet University’s Jordan Student Academic Center, open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit: https://www.gallaudet.edu/museum/exhibits/deaf-difference–space-survival-exhibit.

Soyuz 1

The first crewed Soyuz launch occurred 50 years ago today. The cosmonaut was Colonel Vladimir Komarov.

The mission ended in tragedy when the parachutes did not deploy correctly and Vladimir Komarov was killed, becoming the first person to perish on a space mission.

Hosted Space X Launch Replay

Here is the SES-10 Hosted Webcast from of the historic flight by Space X. Being “out of town” most of the week, I barely got to see the launch. The hosted webcasts usually provide a good bit of information and this one is no exception:

The post yesterday never published. I had it in a queue but I made a mess of it and, well, nothing happened – my apologies.

Finding the Rings of Uranus


The discovery of rings of Uranus is generally accepted to be on 10 March 1977 by by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Jessica Mink. That’s 40 years ago today and I mention “generally accepted” because the great William Herschel claims to have seen rings around the planet and who knows maybe he did because in his notes in 1789 he noted a ring was suspected (see “Uranus rings were seen in 1700s“).

I’m sticking with 1977 and that by the way,  is a great story because at the time the trio were actually in the Kuiper Airborne Observatory planning on seeing the planet occult a star (SAO 158687). Read the story.

Much more about Uranian system can be found at our site with some great mystery questions at the end. No missions are scheduled, pity, much to be be learned.

The picture at the top (and you should click it to make it a bit larger) gives an annotated view from Hubblesite from 2005. In 2007 the Hubble took images of the rings edge on and the last time we “saw” the rings edge on, we did not even know they existed. Look how wide they are:

Images: Hubblesite

Tribute to Apollo 1

NASA opened a new tribute to the crew, astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee , of Apollo 1 who perished in a fire at the launch pad on Jan. 27, 1967, during training for the mission.

Add this to your tour of KSC when you go!

Eugene Cernan 1934 – 2017

The last man to walk on the moon has died. Gene Cernan passed in a Houston Hospital 16 January 2017, he was 82 years-old.

The Houston Public Library Digital Archives.

170:41:00 Cernan: Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. “Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.” – EVA 3 Close-out

Godspeed to you Gene.

Mars Pathfinder

It has been 20-years since the Mars Pathfinder with the little Sojourner rover was launched to Mars. The spacecraft landed successfully in an ancient flood plain called Ares Vallis or the valley of Ares. The landing site is in the northern hemisphere of Mars and is where Sojourner because the first rover to operate on Mars.

Mars Pathfinder page at JPL / NASA

Here is one of JPL’s 360 views around the Pathfinder lander, later renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station:

STEREO 10th Annaversary

Get your 3D glasses out if you can. Launched on 26 October 2006 the twin STEREO solar observers were just a few months into their flights when for a time they were situated at the proper distance from each other to allow us to see the stereoscopic view of the Sun.

Part of the NASA caption:

“This footage is from March and April 2007, when the small separation of the two spacecraft allowed a stereoscopic view of the sun similar to how human eyes perceive the world around us. These images were captured by STEREO in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light which show different layers of the sun’s atmosphere. The number in the lower right of the video shows the wavelength of light measured in Angstroms.”

NASA – STEREO Website

Video