Category Archives: History

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.”



Gemini 11 – 50 Years ago

Astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr. and Richard F. Gordon, Jr. performed the first-ever first orbit rendezvous with an Agena Target Vehicle, docking with it one hour and thirty-four minutes after launch paving the way to the future of space travel.


Earth 50 Years Ago


50 years ago today the Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first picture of Earth from the moon. Lunar Orbiter 1 was launched on 10 August 1966 and returned 42 high-resolution and 187 medium-resolution frames were taken and transmitted to Earth covering over 5 million square kilometers of the Moon’s surface. This image was taken on 23 August 1966 at 16:35 GMT.

More about Lunar Orbiter 1

Image: NASA via Wikimedia

Sample 15415

Sample 15415 or the Genesis Rock was collected by Apollo 15 astronauts James Irwin and David Scott on the surface of the moon. The date was 01 August 1971 and it was the second EVA for the astronauts when Sample 15415 was collected from Spur crater.


The early idea was the Genesis Rock was lunar primordial crust, however it turn out not to be so. The rock is anorthosite.

More about the oldest moon rocks.

Scientific data on Sample 15415.

The name Genesis Rock is stored at the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility.

Here’s a written transcript of the astronaut radio transmissions at the time of the finding and below (should be) the audio file.