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The history of human spaceflight
13 years ago
From V-2 to Voyager, Gagarin to Melvill
Human spaceflight traveled from nowhere to beyond the far edge of the Solar System in about half a century. How did we get there?
While Germans, Americans, Russians and others test fired rockets during the first half of the 20th century, the space race began in earnest after World War II.
During the war, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, German engineer Wernher Von Braun and his technical team built a rocket called V-2. It has been called one of the scariest Nazi weapons in World War II. In fact, more than 20,000 V-1 and V-2 rockets were fired by the Germans.
As Germany lost the war in 1945, Von Braun and some 55 rocket scientists surrendered to America and were relocated along with about 100 unfired V-2's to White Sands, New Mexico, and Fort Bliss, Texas, to work on a U.S. rocket program.
Other German rocket engineers were relocated to the Soviet Union where they also worked on unused German V-2's. The Russians tested their captured V-2's with launches from Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome on the banks of the Volga River 75 miles east of Stalingrad, now Volgograd.
With hundreds of follow-on rockets fired upward during the 1940s and 1950s, the far-reaching U.S. and Soviet space programs were well-founded on the original German V-2 rocket.

In 1955, the United States and the Soviet Union began planning space satellites for launch to Earth orbit during the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958.
V-2 rocket Peenemuende launch
V-2 rocket at Peenemuende
Sputnik. While it seemed the United States had captured the prime German experts, it turned out to be the Soviets who managed to launch the first artificial Earth satellite.    firsts »»
Sputnik 1 was sent to a 370 mile high orbit on October 4, 1957, stunning the population down on the planet's surface.
The USSR did it again on November 3 of that year when they launched Sputnik 2 carrying the dog, Laika, the first animal in orbit.
     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
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Ignominiously, the United States was unable to launch its Vanguard rocket and satellite in 1957. The next year, Explorer became the first successful American satellite.
The Moon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958.
NASA introduced the first American astronauts in 1959. The Mercury 7 were Walter H. "Wally" Schirra Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn Jr., Scott Carpenter, Alan B. Shepard Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper.
Meanwhile, the Russians were on a roll. In 1959, the USSR launched three Luna probes to the Moon. Luna 1 was the the first spacecraft to reach the Moon. Luna 2 was the first to land on the Moon. Luna 3 snapped the first pictures of the far side of the Moon.
Yuri Gagarin. Even if the United States had the cream of German expertise, the Soviets again managed to reach a major milestone first when it launched the first person into space.
Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin of the USSR rode the capsule Vostok 1 to orbit on April 12, 1961. He was first in space and first in orbit, completing one revolution around Earth in 1 hour 48 minutes. He landed in the Saratov area of Russia southeast of Moscow near the Volga River.    gagarin »»
His was the first of many spaceflight milestones achieved first by the USSR.    milestones »»
Playing catch up. Just 23 days after the Gagarin flight, NASA launched a Mercury-Redstone rocket carrying Alan Shepard on a 15-minute suborbital spaceflight in the Mercury capsule Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961. He was the first American in space, although not in orbit. Shepard splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean 302 miles from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
Sputnik 1 launch
Mercury 7 astronauts
U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced on May 25, 1961, at a special joint session of Congress that America would send men to the Moon before the end of the decade.
President Kennedy
Gus Grissom, the second American in space, although still not in orbit, was launched on a similar 15-minute suborbital flight in the Mercury capsule Liberty Bell 7 on July 21, 1961. He, also, splashed down safely in the Atlantic 302 miles from Cape Canaveral.
American space pilots became known as astronauts. Soviet space pilots became known as cosmonauts.
Another in orbit. Three months after Shepard's flight and less than one month after Grissom's, Gherman Titov of the USSR became the second man in orbit, completing 16 revolutions around the globe in 25 hours 18 minutes in the capsule Vostok 2 on August 6, 1961. He landed near Saratov, Russia.
While his stay of more than a day in orbit was another landmark for the USSR, Americans were determined to go forward with the space race.
An astronaut orbits Earth. John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he carried the U.S. flag for three trips around Earth in five hours in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. He splashed down in the Atlantic 800 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral near Grand Turk Island.
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Three months later, Scott Carpenter flew as the second American in orbit. He completed three trips around Earth in five hours in the Mercury capsule Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962. Carpenter landed in the Atlantic Ocean 1,000 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral.
First woman. Russian textile worker Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space when she blasted off in Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. She stayed in orbit three days.
First spacewalk. Spacewalks, or extra-vehicular activities (EVA), allow astronauts and cosmonauts to move between spacecraft and to maintain the outsides of their spacecraft.
The first spacewalk was taken by Alexei Leonov as he went outside the USSR's Voskhod 2 capsule for ten minutes on a 10-ft. tether on March 18, 1965.
Shortly thereafter, the first American spacewalker was Edward White who went outside the Gemini 4 capsule on a tether for 20 minutes on June 3, 1965. 
Apollo 1 and Soyuz 1. Space travel is risky business. Exploration has been accompanied by loss of life.

In January 1967, while training for the first U.S. Apollo mission, astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee died in a flash fire in their spacecraft on the launch pad. U.S. manned flights stopped for almost two years.

In April 1967, the USSR's Soyuz 1 flight ended in tragedy when the capsule's descent parachute did not open. Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died in the crash landing. Soyuz flights stopped for 18 months.
Moon research. Before sending men to the Moon, the United States sent 21 robot explorers – nine Ranger spacecraft from 1961-65, seven Surveyor spacecraft 1966-68, and five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft 1966-67.

Rangers were the first U.S. try for close-up images of the Lunar surface. The spacecraft flew straight into the Moon, sending pictures until impact. Three succeeded, six failed.

Surveyor probes were the first U.S. spacecraft to land safely on the Moon.

Lunar Orbiters mapped 99 percent of the lunar surface in search of Apollo landing sites. 
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Soviet preparations. The USSR completed 20 successful unmanned missions to the Moon, achieving a number of firsts – first probe to impact the Moon, first flyby and image of the lunar farside, first soft landing on the Moon, first lunar orbiter, and first circumlunar probe to return to Earth. The Soviet Union's two series of probes were Luna with 24 flights and Zond with five flights. The Luna series included two Moon rovers and three sample return missions.
First men at the Moon. The U.S.-USSR Moon race was well underway when the first men flew to Earth's natural satellite. The Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders made a 147 hour round trip to the Moon and back in 1968. Their six-day flight was the longest on record to that time. They flew into lunar orbit on December 24, but they did not land on the lunar surface. They completed ten orbits of the Moon and sent live TV pictures of the Moon back to Earth.
Man on the Moon. Humans first set foot on Earth's natural satellite on July 20, 1969. As the lunar excursion module from the Apollo 11 capsule touched down on the barren surface of the Moon's Sea of Tranquility, astronaut Neil A. Armstrong said, "The Eagle has landed." He then stepped out onto the surface and said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed with Armstrong on the Moon.
The Soviet Union had tried hard, but America won the race to the Moon. The Soviets decided to turn their efforts to space stations where men and women could live and work for long periods in Earth orbit.
U.S. astronauts completed six Moon landings between 1969-72. The ten other men who walked on the Moon in addition to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. Cernan was the last man on the Moon.
End of the Moon race. The Soviet Union's Moon rocket, known as N-1, reached the launch pad in 1969. Its first three launches were catastrophic failures. The rocket was flawed and the USSR killed its Moon program.
Staying on in space. A space station is a satellite like any other, except it can house people for long periods of time. Many unmanned satellites have been as large as a space station, flown at the same altitudes, and been as complex. The difference is in the life-support system which allows human occupants to live safely in the dangerous space environment.
The USSR won the competition for first space station with the launch of its Salyut-1 to a 200-mi.-high orbit on April 19, 1971. It went on to launch a total of eight space stations through 1986.
Meanwhile, having enjoyed large budgets during the 1960s, NASA wanted to continue into the 1970s with a space station in Earth orbit as a pit stop for astronauts on their way to the Moon and Mars. However, after six manned landings on the Moon, much of NASA's money dried up. Many politicians said space spectaculars were unnecessary since the U.S. had won the race. Forced to choose, NASA canceled three Moon landing flights and built a space station. The space agency sent Skylab up to Earth orbit on May 14, 1973.
Leaving the Sun. An American interplanetary probe launched on September 5, 1977, would take humankind to and beyond the very edge of the Solar System. Voyager 1 was sent out from Cape Canaveral to fly by Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980. Then, the robot explorer just kept on going.
In November 2003, the spacecraft reached a distance 90 times farther from the Sun than the Earth. That's about 8.4 billion miles away.
Today, in that dark, cold, vacant neighborhood at the very edge of our Solar System, Voyager 1 holds the record as the Earth explorer that has traveled farthest from home. It is the most distant human-made object in the Universe.
Shuttle to orbit. A space shuttle is a piloted, recoverable, partially-reusable transportation vehicle used to carry people and cargo between Earth and space, and as a short-term research platform in orbit. It has wings for a controlled descent through the atmosphere returning people and materials to land on the surface. Unlike the billions of miles Voyager has flown away from Earth, space shuttles fly a mere 200 miles above Earth's surface.
U.S. President Richard Nixon approved the development of such a reusable space transportation system in 1972. Later, the Soviets began work on a similar shuttle.
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The first American space shuttle, Columbia, carried astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen to orbit on a 54-hour maiden voyage on April 12, 1981.
Later, shuttle Challenger flew first on April 4, 1983. Discovery made its maiden voyage on August 30, 1984. Atlantis flew first on October 3, 1985. Endeavour took off on May 7, 1992.
Altogether, NASA has flown more than 100 shuttle missions.

The USSR built on shuttle, Buran, which lifted off on its maiden voyage November 15, 1988. Buran means snowstorm in Russian. It was lifted to space by an Energia rocket, completed two orbits, and made an automated landing. No people were aboard. It never flew again as the USSR collapsed in 1991.
Challenger and Columbia. Space travel is risky business. The loss of shuttle Challenger just 73 minutes into lift-off on January 28, 1986, exemplifies the danger, as does the loss of shuttle Columbia descending over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003.

Seven astronauts, Francis R. "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Sharon Christa McAuliffe, were killed when one of Challenger's solid-fuel booster rockets leaked, leading to a massive liquid-fuel tank explosion above the Cape Canaveral launch pad.
NASA mission control reported at one minute thirteen seconds into the flight, "Obviously a major malfunction. We have no downlink. The vehicle has exploded."
McAuliffe was a Concord, New Hampshire, high school social studies teacher. Millions of American students in classrooms watching the televised launch were to have participated in lessons McAuliffe was to have taught later by TV from orbit.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan said America would never forget the Challenger astronauts who "slipped the surly bonds of Earth" to "touch the face of God."
It took NASA 975 days to recover from the Challenger explosion. The next flight was Discovery, on September 28, 1988. A new shuttle, Endeavour, built to replace Challenger, took off on its first flight on May 7, 1992.
Years later, seven astronauts were returning from orbit aboard shuttle Columbia when it broke up 200,000 feet over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003. The shuttle was descending toward a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Debris was strewn across a wide area from southeastern Texas into Louisiana.
Aboard Columbia were astronauts Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Ramon had been a national hero in Israel for taking part in the 1981 bombing of a nuclear reactor in Iraq.
U.S. President George W. Bush said, "The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on."
It took NASA two years to recover from the Columbia explosion.
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International Space Station. A space station is a combined home, office, laboratory and observatory where human occupants can live and work safely for periods of time in the dangerous environment of outer space.

The Soviet Union had launched eight space stations between 1971 and 1986.
The last of the USSR's eight space stations was Mir. It was in service in orbit from 1986 to 1999. Some 100 cosmonauts and astronauts lived aboard Mir, including seven NASA astronauts, a Japanese journalist, a British candy maker and numerous visitors from other countries. Several were from countries that had no other access to space.
Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov stayed the longest, 438 days in 1994-95. Some 16,500 science experiments were conducted on board the station over 13 years.

The United States had launched one space station, in 1973. It was used only in 1973-74.

The International Space Station (ISS) was born in 1998.
With contributions from 16 nations, it is the largest and most complex international scientific project ever undertaken. The major partners are the United States, Russia, European Space Agency, Japan and Canada.
The first ISS section to be lifted to space was Russia's Zarya Control Module on November 20, 1998. Zarya, which means "sunrise" in Russian, was followed by America's Unity Node, a connecting segment, on December 4, 1998. Then, the Zvezda Service Module was sent up on July 12, 2000. Zvezda means "star" in Russian.
When completed around 2007, the ISS will have required dozens of shuttle flights to send up everything needed. It will weigh more than a million pounds and provide six state-of-the-art laboratories for international research at an altitude of 240 miles.
People fly to the ISS in U.S. space shuttles and aboard Russian Soyuz transports.
The ISS is supplied by shuttles and Russian unmanned Progress freighters.
Paying tourists already have begun to visit the space station.
Latecomer. A long 42 years after Yuri Gagarin's historic launch, and after the flights of hundreds of men and women from many nations around the world, the Peoples Republic of China launched astronaut Yang Liwei in his Shenzhou 5 capsule to Earth orbit on October 15, 2003.
Liwei's first comments from space were, "I feel good." His flight made China the third nation able to send a human being to space, after the United States and Russia.    china in space »»
Private astronauts reach space. Eight months after Liwei's flight from China, an American private company, Scaled Composites, sent its private astronaut Mike Melvill, on a suborbital flight in SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004.
SpaceShipOne was lifted by an airplane from the Mojave, California, airport to a high altitude. From, there, SpaceShipOne blasted itself on up to space – above 62 miles altitude. It then glided back down to land at the airport.
How long will it be before private spacecraft carry private astronauts to orbit and beyond?    private space planes »»
History is underway. From V-2 to Voyager, from Gagarin to Melvill, that's the story of human space exploration and travel in a nutshell.
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo
Choice morsels discovered and misplaced stories recalled about early astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs during the race to the Moon...
Project Mercury began the race
There were six solo spaceflights of America's one-man Mercury capsules by six astronauts. The first was in May 1961 and the last was in May 1963. The first was the shortest, 15 minutes, 22 seconds. Longest was the last at 34 hours, 19 minutes.
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Clothing worn by America's seven original Mercury astronauts -- Alan Shepard, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton -- as well as training equipment, log books, photographs and personal mementos are in the Astronaut Hall of Fame near Cape Canaveral at Titusville, Florida.
Project Gemini bridged the gap
America launched ten two-man Gemini capsule flights, carrying 20 astronauts to Earth orbit between March 1965 and November 1966. The longest flight was 14 days by Gemini 7.
Apollo completed the final leg of the journey
The first live color TV from space was on Apollo 10. The crew used the first portable color TV camera, which weighed "only" 10.5 pounds and cost $250,000 to develop.
Eleven of NASA's three-man Apollo capsules were launched on Moon-preparation flights and actual flights to the Moon. The flights blasted off between October 1968 and December 1972. They carried 33 astronauts. Three of the flights circled the Moon and six landed on the Moon. The longest flight was 12 days, 13 hours, 48 minutes.
Lightning struck the mighty Saturn 5 moon rocket twice during lift off of Apollo 12 from Cape Canaveral on November 14, 1969.
To protect the Apollo 11 astronauts from germs, a NASA doctor called off a dinner President Richard M. Nixon had wanted to give for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on July 14, 1969, the night before they were to leave for the first Moon landing. Later Collins said, "I'm sure presidential germs are benign."
Where did the Apollo astronauts land on the Moon?
Apollo 11 landed at Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility)
Apollo 12 at Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms), a large young area of the Moon previously visited by the unmanned probes Luna 9, Luna 13, Surveyor 1 and Surveyor 3
Apollo 14 at the Fra Mauro formation cone crater
Apollo 15 at at Hadley Rille
Apollo 16 at Cayley-Descartes formation in the lunar highlands
Apollo 17 at at Taurus-Littrow, a highland area on the border of Mare Serenitatis
Unable to steal the thunder
Apollo 11 was to be launched July 15, 1969, to make the first manned landing on the Moon on July 20. In an attempt to dull the Apollo 11 publicity, the USSR sent the unammned probe Luna 15 on July 13 on a mission to land an unmanned lunar rover on the Moon, pick up a soil sample, and return it to Earth. Luna 15 arrived in lunar orbit 48 hours before Apollo 11, but the attempt failed. The probe orbited the Moon 52 times, then crashed onto the lunar surface on July 21.
Walking on the Moon
Spacesuits were vital to astronauts walking on the Moon because there was no oxygen and temperatures ranged from minus 250 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. They constantly were bombarded by high velocity micrometeroids, gravity was zero, and the vacuum threatened to boil body fluids. Even so, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong asked Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969, "Isn't it fun?"
Tracy Knauss of Tennessee was said to have the world's largest moonwalk collection in a climate-controlled bank vault. The collection includes:
60 miles of audio tape recording ABC, CBS and NBC broadcasts
500 newspapers from 50 states and seven countries
185 different July 21, 1969, day-after newspaper front pages from Anchorage to Rome
personal letters from Neil Armstrong before and after Apollo 11
gifts from the first man to walk in space, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov
even a single sheet of white paper bearing the signatures of each of the 12 men who walked on the Moon
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The Moon rocks
The Apollo astronauts found the Moon covered by a layer, from 3 to 66 feet deep, of fine soil and rock fragments called regolith. Water, wind and life, which change Earth's soil, are not found on the Moon. That means that lunar soil has built up on the airless surface over billions of years of bombardment by meteorites, most of which probably are so small they would have burned in Earth's atmosphere. The meteorites shattered solid rock and scattered debris widely, mixing the soil in a process scientists call gardnering. The astronauts found no sedimentary rocks. All the rocks they found were igneous -- solidified volcanic lava.
Minerals in the Moon rocks were mostly the same as in Earth lava, although three new minerals were discovered. One was named Tranquillityite for the Apollo 11 landing site. Another was labeled Armalcolite for Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. The third new mineral was named Pyroxferroite.
Tripping merrily across the dusty and orange soil, these guys picked up a lotta rocks in a short time...
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin collected 48.5 lbs. of rocks during 21 hours 36 minutes on the Moon.
Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean gathered 74.7 lbs. in 31 hours 31 minutes.
Apollo 14's Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell scooped up 96 lbs. in 33 hours 31 minutes.
Apollo 15's David Scott and James Irwin collected 170 lbs. in 66 hours 55 minutes.
Apollo 16's John Young and Charles Duke gathered 213 lbs. in 71 hours 2 minutes.
Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt collected 243 lbs. in 75 hours.
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, the first geologist in space, found the most colorful stuff on the Moon -- orange glass -- near Shorty Crater. That suggested the possibility of ice within the Moon.
Soil and rocks from the Moon were not returned only by Americans. In 1970, the USSR's unmanned probe Luna 16 landed at Mare Foecunditatis and picked up 101 grams of soil, sealed it in a box, and launched itself back to Earth. That was the first automated sample retrieval from another celestial body.
In 1972, the USSR unmanned probe Luna 20 probe, the second USSR sample return mission, landed at Mare Crisium, collected 5 oz. of sub-surface soil with a hollow drill, put the soil in box, and returned to the USSR.
In 1974, the USSR's unmanned probe Luna 23 made a soft landing on the Moon. Its drill was damaged, but a soil sample was returned to Earth.
In 1976, the USSR's unmanned probe Luna 24, the last unmanned lunar soil sampler in the series, completed a soft landing at Mare Crisium. Its automatic drill penetrated 6.6 ft., retrieved 3.9 oz. subsoil, sealed it in a box and blasted off for Earth.
Everybody wants in on the fun. Japan said in 1996 it hopes someday to land a soil sampler and moonquake measurer on the Moon. Equipment aboard an Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) unmanned lander would penetrate the lunar soil.
The Moon rovers
The first lunar rover, a wheeled vehicle on the Moon, was carried to the lunar surface by the USSR's unmanned probe Luna 17 in 1970. Luna 17 landed at Mare Imbrium and sent out the instrumented Lunokhod 1 lunar rover vehicle to get soil samples and analyze density and composition. Lunokhod broadcast TV over its 2.5 mile range and observed stars with an X-ray telescope.
The next year, in 1971, U.S. Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin landed on the Moon at Hadley Rille. They drove the first manned Moon rover, a four-wheel battery-powered vehicle, 17 miles along the front of Apennine Mountain. They picked up rocks and soil and sunk probes which revealed a hot interior of Moon, maybe radioactive decay.
Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, in 1972 during man's sixth and last landing on the Moon, in the Littrow Valley at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, took the longest ride in a Moon car. They drove their lunar rover 21 miles at speeds of up to nine mph. Unfortunately, Cernan snagged a hammer and ripped the fender on the rover. He patched it with plastic Moon maps. He also dented the rover's tires driving over rocks.
Blowing down the flag
As Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin blasted off in their lunar excursion module (LEM) from the Moon's surface on July 21, 1969, on a return trip up to the command service module Columbia in lunar orbit, their exhaust blast toppled the American flag they had planted in the lunar soil into the dirt.
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The last man on the Moon
Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan was the last man on the Moon. He left a plaque which read, "Here Man completed his first exploration of the Moon December 1972 A.D. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind."
Taking a walk on the way home
In 1971, U.S. Apollo 15 astronaut Alfred M. Worden took the first-ever deep-space spacewalk on the way home from the fourth manned Moon landing. At 197,000 miles from Earth, he stepped outside Apollo 15 for 16 minutes to retrieve two film cassettes with pictures he had made of the Moon from lunar orbit while David Scott and James Irwin had been walking on the Moon.
Naming Moon craters and asteroids
Astronomers named 25 craters on the Moon for space pioneers. Such memorials usually commemorate dead persons, but the International Astronomical Union paid tribute to a dozen U.S. and USSR space pioneers in 1970. Most of the craters named after American space fliers are in and around the 280-mi.-wide Apollo crater on the far side of the Moon. Most craters honoring cosmonauts also are on the far side, in and around the 233-mi.-wide lava basin known as Mare Moscoviense.
Leaders Among Women in Space
USSR cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova 1963: First woman in space, first woman in orbit - USSR cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova [also Valentina Tereshkova] was not only the first woman in orbit, but also the first ordinary person in space. She was a textile mill worker who enjoyed the hobby of parachute jumping when she was picked for a class of women to train for spaceflight. USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev wanted a spectacular, so, by age 25, Tereshkova was a cosmonaut. She spent 71 hours orbiting Earth 48 times in June 1963 in her capsule Sea Gull. Following Yuri Gagarin as the first man in space in 1961, Tereshkova's 1963 flight brought additional prestige to the Soviet Union and what then appeared to be the dominant space program.1960s: First American female astronauts - The Mercury 13 [also Mercury 13 and Mercury 13 and Mercury 13] were NASA female astronauts tested for the same physical and psychological conditions that America's original Mercury 7 male astronauts endured. However, the Mercury 13 were not assigned to space duty. 1982: Second woman in space, second woman in orbit - USSR cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya [also Svetlana Savitskaya and Svetlana Savitskaya] flew to the USSR's Salyut 7 space station August 19, 1982. 1983: First American woman in space, first American woman in orbit - Dr. Sally Kristen Ride rode in shuttle Challenger June 18, 1983. She rode Challenger to space again, a year later, and was training for a third flight when Challenger exploed during liftoff on January 28, 1986. More than three dozen women have flown on U.S. space shuttles since Sally Ride's first trip. 1984: First woman to take a spacewalk - USSR cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya U.S. astronaut Judith Resnik 
Judith Resnik 
1984: Second American woman in space, second American woman in orbit - Dr. Judith A. Resnik flew in shuttle Discovery August 30, 1984. Two years later, Dr. Resnik died when the shuttle Challenger exploded during lift-off in 1986.
1984: First woman to go to space twice - Svetlana Savitskaya flew to the Salyut 7 space station in August 1982 and again in July 1984. 1984: First American woman to go to space twice - Sally Ride rode twice in Challenger, in June 1983 and October 1984. 1984: First American woman to take a spacewalk - Dr Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan 1984: First women together in space - Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride flew together in shuttle Challenger in October 1984. 1984: First mother in space - Dr. Anna Lee Tingle Fisher, M.D., flew in shuttle Discovery in November 1984.
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1986: First women to die during spaceflight - Dr. Judith Arlene Resnik and Mrs. Sharon Christa McAuliffe  were aboard shuttle Challenger when it was launched January 28, 1986. The entire crew of that flight died when the shuttle exploded during lift-off. Selected from 11,000 profesional educator applicants, Christa McAuliffe would have been the first teacher in space.

1989: First woman on a U.S. military flight - Dr. Kathryn Ryan Cordell Thornton flew aboard shuttle Discovery on a secret mission in November 1989. Later, in 1992, she flew on the maiden flight of the new shuttle Endeavour, which replaced Challenger.

British cosmonaut Helen Sharman Helen Sharman
1990: First woman to fly in space as a result of a newspaper ad for " Astronaut wanted - no experience necessary" - British Chemist Helen Patricia Sharman stayed a week at Russia's space station Mir.   also
1992: First black woman in space - U.S. astronaut Dr Mae Carol Jemison.

1995: First woman to pilot a space shuttle - U.S. astronaut Eileen Marie Collins. Four years later, she would be the first woman space shuttle commander.

1996: Space endurance record for women and overall U.S. space endurance record - U.S. astronaut Dr Shannon Matilda Wells Lucid in six months aboard the Russian space station Mir. Altogether, Shannon Lucid spent 223 days in space during five space flights, including 188 days aboard Mir space station in 1996. She was the first American to take a spacewalk at Mir. (By comparison, even though the stay in space in 2001 for U.S. astronaut Susan Helms and her two fellow International Space Station Expedition 2 crew members was extended by almost a month because of problems with the robot arm, it still was three weeks shy of NASA's space endurance record.)

1997: Russian woman with most time in space - cosmonaut Yelena Vladimirovna Kondakova flew a total of 178 days, including 169 days aboard space station Mir in 1994 and nine days in a U.S. shuttle flight to Mir in 1997.

U.S. astronaut Susan Helms Susan Helms 1999: First woman space shuttle commander - U.S. astronaut Eileen Marie Collins.

2001: First woman crew member of the International Space Station - U.S. astronaut Susan Jane Helms. She stayed there 165 days bringing her total in space to 210 days during five flights. She also was the first female amateur radio operator to communicate directly with hams on the ground via amateur radio from the space station.

2002: First ISS science officer, first woman to spacewalk at the space station - To highlight ISS research, Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, a biochemist, became the station's first resident scientist when she flew as part of the Expedition 5 crew. It was her first spaceflight and Dr. Whitson logged 184 days in space. Dr. Whitson ventured outside on August 16 for an EVA of 4 hours 25 minutes to install micrometeoroid shielding. As science officer, she conducted 21 investigations in human life sciences, microgravity sciences and commercial payloads.

2003: Second women to die during spaceflight - Dr. Kalpana Chawla and Dr. Laurel Clark were aboard shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated over Texas on February 1, 2003. The entire crew of seven died.

The USSR Will Build Space Cities
13 years ago
by Cosmonaut Vitali Sevastyanov
SPACE TODAY was founded as a print newsmagazine in 1986. It migrated to online publication in 1995 as SPACE TODAY ONLINE (STO).
As the crown jewel of the space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the third-generation Mir station floated in orbit above Earth for fifteen years from 1986 to 2001. In 1987, cosmonauts from the Soviet Union took up permanent occupancy in the orbiting station.
This STO print archive article is a report on plans for building space cities written in Summer 1987 by USSR cosmonaut and space pilot Vitali Sevastyanov in response to a request from the editors of Space Today for information on long range plans.
Russian Space Station Mir while still in orbit above Earth
Mir station while still in orbit
When Yuri Gagarin, a 27-year-old Russian made his historic flight around our planet on April 12, 1961, he proved that the human race would not be bound to the Earth forever. His flight was but the first step. "But even a road thousands of kilometers long begins with a first step," the cosmonaut's mother said.
Yuri Gagarin was born in a small village near Smolensk. His father was a joiner on a collective farm. At 15 Yuri enrolled at a technical school to learn the trade of a steel maker. He went in for sport and read a lot. Later, Gagarin said that it was at that time that he developed an insatiable thirst for flying. His passion for space came from reading books by Herbert Wells, Jules Verne and later Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the Russian space theorist.
Academician Sergei Korolev, the famous designer of space ships and a man who knew Gagarin well, said about him, "Yuri epitomizes the eternal youthfulness of the Russian people. He happily combines natural courage, an analytical mind and exceptional industriousness." To this must be added that Gagarin was a very amiable and cheerful person and had a good sense of humor. All that combined with his excellent skills played the decisive role in his becoming the first Soviet cosmonaut.
200 have been there. As many as 200 spacemen have been in orbit to date, with many having flown several missions. Soviet spacecraft also lifted cosmonaut researchers from socialist countries, that are members of the Intercosmos program, and from India and France.
A total of 16 days was spent by Soviet cosmonauts in the first single-seater ships of the Vostok type. On board the Salyut 6 station, its crews worked in space for about 700 days and on board Salyut 7 for more than 800 days. An equivalent shuttle program, with its weekly missions, would have required more than 200 launchings to achieve the same duration. Salyut 1, the first Soviet orbital spacecraft, was provided only with one docking unit. The station could be used either in the unmanned mode or in the manned one, with a crew deliverable by a Soyuz ship that docked with the Salyut.
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In 1977 Salyut 6, a station of the second generation, was launched. It was fitted with two docking units, which changed radically the research program of Soviet orbital stations. Now, if one of the docking units was occupied by a Soyuz that brought up the main crew, the other docking unit made it possible to receive another Soyuz with a visiting crew, or an automatic Progress ferry ship. This advantage of Salyut 6 was used extensively: in four years of orbital service it accommodated 33 people.
Besides, the existence of two docking ports enabled large-sized "space trains" to be formed, consisting of craft that in size and mass were similar to Salyut 6. If these craft, in their turn, had two docking ends, multi-sectional orbital stations of any length could be built up in that way.
Three craft docked. In 1983, a research complex made up of Soyuz T-9, Salyut 7 and Cosmos 1443 operated in orbit for six weeks, with a total mass of 47 tons (94,000 lbs.) and a length of almost 35 meters (115 feet). It was a major step in orbital docking of craft having large masses and volumes.
By that time, Salyut stations had been perfected to such an extent that they became real testing laboratories, but one step before a permanent orbital station with rotating crews, a station that could be supplied with all it needed and could function normally for an indefinite period of time.
The extended exploitation of Salyuts provided Soviet men of science with many insights into the behavior of the human body in space. Since man's adaptability to space and his possible return to normal terrestrial existence without bad effects was one of the unknowns of space flight, this information was especially valuable.
There were, of course, problems in the early stages. Some of the cosmonauts, upon returning to Earth from their orbital missions, experienced difficulties on the firm ground. For example, in walking. To preclude this from recurring, new programs of work, physical training and recreation in orbit were drawn up. These programs owe their origins to Salyut flights. Under a space-research agreement between the USSR and the U.S., the Soviet Union shares with the United States data on how extended zero-gravity affects the human body. As American scientists pointed out on many occasions, they are especially interested in these Soviet experiments and their results, since they are unable to obtain such information from their national program of studies.
The next generation. The experience gained by seven Salyut orbital stations has allowed Soviet scientists to prepare and make a fundamentally new step in the development of the space technology. I refer to the launching in February 1986 of the Mir orbital station. As distinct from its predecessors, it has six, not two, docking ports. Four are on the periphery and two at the ends along the central axis. The result is that different configurations can be effected and flexible technology can be adopted more widely in orbit. This is the basic idea contained in the conception of a multi-purpose permanently-manned complex with specialized modules concerned with nature studies and technological, astrophysical, biological and other research. The six docking ports mean, above all, the new quality of the station, the possibility of using its costly scientific and technical equipment in full. The cargo bridge between Earth and orbit can operate very efficiently.
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The Mir has twice as much (electrical) power as the Salyut and this is very important in conducting power-demanding experiments. For example, in space technology and materials science. This station is expected to do a particularly large volume of applications research. A permanent space station in near-Earth orbit offers vast benefits. With the help of such a station, everythingÐfrom the manufacture of perfect crystals at zero gravity to the organization of expeditions to other planetsÐcan be translated from the stage of costly experiments into daily reality.
Humans have been directly exploring space for little more than 25 years. Before that, we felt cramped in the space we lived in. But, having started space exploration, we were surprised and then pleased to discover that there were new areas for human endeavor. By exploring and using outer space, we are possibly making immense discoveries, determining our place in the Universe, first judging our terrestrial "frailty" and glimpsing the future which will from now on be never connected entirely with the Earth.
Highlights of Mir Space Station's
15 Years in Orbit

As the crown jewel of the space program of the former Soviet Union, Mir station floated in orbit above Earth for fifteen years from 1986 to 2001.
February 1986
A Soviet rocket carrying the first module for the Mir blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The new station has six docking ports for spacecraft and laboratory modules. The first Mir crew, Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Soloviev, fly in a Soyuz capsule from the station's predecessor station, Salyut-7, to the new station.
April 1987
Kvant-1, an add-on module, is the first addition to Mir. After a rendezvous failure, the two Mir cosmonauts inside Mir spacewalk outside the station where they find and remove a bag of trash wedged in the docking port. Docking of Kvant then proceeds.
September 1989
Astronauts return to Mir after a four-month hiatus due to trouble with Soyuz transport ships at Baikonur.
December 1989
Kvant-2 is added to Mir. This 19-ton module has a large airlock which improves spacewalking capabilities.
December 1989
Japanese journalist Toyohiro Akiyama of the Tokyo Broadcasting System visits Mir briefly and reports from the station.
May 1991
Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev reaches Mir for a mission of more than one year three months during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Later, he became the first Russian to fly on the U.S. space shuttle and, even later, one of the first three residents of International Space Station Alpha.
May 1991
Great Britain's Helen Sharman visits Mir on a privately financed trip. She is a chocolate researcher for a candy company who had won a contest to become Britain's first astronaut.
February 1999
A Progress supply vessel separates from Mir and unfurls a giant banner of foil, which Russian researchers hoped could be used to shine sunlight on Arctic cities during dark winters.
March 1995
Mir resident Valery Polyakov sets a record of 438 days in space.
March 1995
American astronaut Norman Thagard goes to Mir.
July 1995
Another module is added to Mir and the first U.S. space shuttle arrives at Mir to take astronaut Thagard and two cosmonauts back to Earth.
March 1996
American astronaut Shannon Lucid arrives at Mir.
April 1996
Ten years after its construction in space began, Mir station is completed with the arrival of a module named Priroda.
September 1996
American astronaut John Blaha arrives at Mir.
January 1997
American astronaut Jerry Linenger arrives at Mir.
February 1997
An oxygen-generating canister bursts into flames during a routine ignition forcing the two cosmonauts on board to fight a fire. The fire filled the station and its emergency Soyuz escape capsule with smoke, forcing comsonauts Vasiliy Tsibliev and Alexander Lazutkin to put on gas masks and put out the fire.
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May 1997
American astronaut Mike Foale arrives at Mir.
June 1997
Tsibliev and Lazutkin faced deadly danger again when, during a docking test, a cargo ship crashed into Mir. It was the worst collision ever in space. The impact created a hissing air leak, which the two miraculously located and sealed off.
September 1997
American astronaut David Wolf arrives at Mir.
June 1998
Andy Thomas, the last American to stay aboard Mir, leaves for earth.
November 1998
As Proton rocket ferries the first segment of the new international space station Alpha to orbit -- the Russian module Zarya -- NASA presses the Russian space agency to bring Mir down from orbit, because of concerns over the aging station's safety.
August 1999
The 27th crew to Mir lands back on Earth. No replacement crew is sent up.
June 2000
Financed by MirCorp -- private investors hoping to keeping Mir alive as a destination for wealthy tourists -- cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Sergei Zaletin travel up to Mir to become the last two persons to live on the old station. They come down to Earth after a two-month stay. A U.S. businessman buys a roundtrip ticket for $20 million.
October 2000
As the first Alpha crew prepares to fly to the new International Space Station, Russia decides to bring Mir down in March 2001. The concept of Mir as a space hotel ends.
February 20, 2001
Mir completes 15 years in orbit, surpassing its planned life of less than five years.
March 2001
Mir ends in a fiery descent as the Russians command the old station to a lower orbit. Most of the 130-ton outpost burns up over the South Pacific between Australia and Chile, although 30 tons may have survived re-entry through Earth's atmosphere to splash into the ocean.
Seven American Astronauts
Lived Aboard Russia's Mir Station
NASA portrait
Norman Thagard
Days aboard: 115
Dates: 1995 March 16 - June 29
Norman Thagard was born on July 3, 1943, in Florida. He was a Marine pilot before becoming an astronaut in 1978. Thagard made his first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-7 in 1983. That crew dropped off two satellites in space. He flew again, aboard shuttle mission 51-B in 1985. That crew conducted experiments in medicine and space manufacturing. In 1989, Thagard made his third flight, aboard shuttle STS-30. That crew deployed the Magellan spacecraft which flew out from Earth to explore Venus. Thagard also flew aboard shuttle STS-42 in 1992. That crew conducted 55 experiments in space manufacturing and life sciences. In 1995, Thagard became the only U.S. astronaut to be launched to space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. That flight took him to become the first American to live aboard Russia's Mir space station. Thagard, who doubted he could have stayed on the space station for six months, lost 17 lbs. despite including freeze-dried borscht and jellied perch in his on-orbit diet. He stayed on orbit about 3.5 months, conducting 28 experiments. Altogether, Thagard spent more than 3,360 hours on five different spacecraft. Retired from NASA, he now is on the electronics faculty at Florida State University, Tallahassee
NASA portrait
Shannon Lucid
Days aboard: 179
Dates: 1996 March 24 - September 19
13 years ago
Shannon Lucid was born in China on January 14, 1943. Lucid worked as a biologist in Oklahoma before she became an astronaut in 1979. The biochemist has spent over 223 days in space on five spaceflights. She holds the record for the most time spent in space by a woman. Lucid made her first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-51G in 1985. That crew dropped off three communication satellites in space. She flew again, aboard shuttle STS-34 in 1989. That mission sent the Galileo interplanetary probe on its way to explore Jupiter. Lucid made her third spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-43 in 1991. That crew deployed one of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDR and conducted several experiments in the life sciences. Lucid flew again, aboard shuttle STS-58 in 1993. That crew spent fourteen days conducting medical experiments. Lucid made her fifth spaceflight aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1996. She spent 188 days aboard Mir, conducting many life science experiments during her stay. She was the second American astronaut to stay on Mir and the first American woman to live aboard the space station. During that trip, Lucid set the world record for a woman's stay in space. She also stayed in space longer than any other U.S. astronaut. She stayed out there so long because her scheduled return was delayed twice. When she wasn't working, she killed the time reading novels -- westerns and mysteries.
NASA portrait
John Blaha
Days aboard: 118
Dates: 1996 September 19 - 1997 January 15
John Blaha was born on August 26, 1942 in Texas. He was an Air Force pilot before he became an astronaut in 1980. He has flown more than 5,500 hours in 33 different types of aircraft. He has spent more than 3,864 hours in space during five space missions. In 1989, Blaha piloted shuttle Discovery. That crew performed several scientific experiments. Also in 1989, Blaha piloted the shuttle STS-33 Department of Defense mission. In 1991, Blaha flew aboard shuttle Atlantis. That mission conducted several life science experiments. Blaha did more experiments in space aboard shuttle Columbia in 1993. Then, for four months in 1996-1997, Blaha flew aboard the Mir space station. He was the third American to live on the space station. He spent half of his stay aboard Mir maintaining and repairing the huge spacecraft. No other American had spent Christmas day in space since 1973. Blaha returned to Earth aboard shuttle STS-81 in January 1997. Retired from NASA, Blaha now is vice president for applied research at the United Service Automobile Association, San Antonio.
NASA portrait
Jerry Linenger
Days aboard: 122
Dates: 1997 January 15 - May 17
Jerry Linenger was born on January 16, 1955, in Michigan. He was a sports medicine physician before he became an astronaut in 1992. Linenger has spent more than 132 days in space on two spaceflights. Linenger made his first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-64 in 1994. That crew put a satellite into orbit and then retrieved it. Linenger flew aboard Mir station in 1997. He was the fourth American to live aboard Mir. Like John Blaha before him, Linenger had to do a lot of maintenance and repair work while on the space station. He and his two cosmonaut hosts almost had to abandon Mir as they fought a fifteen-minute fire in the spacecraft on February 23. Later, he became the first American astronaut to take a spacewalk with a Russian cosmonaut on April 29. He spent five months doing experiments. His e-mail letters home were so interesting that NASA posted them on the World Wide Web. Now retired from NASA, Linenger is a lecturer in Michigan.
13 years ago
NASA portrait
Mike Foale
Days aboard: 134
Dates: 1997 May 17 - September 28
Michael Foale was born in England on January 6, 1957. He is a scuba diver. Foale became an astronaut in 1987. He has spent more than 634 hours in space during three spaceflights. The astrophysicist made his first spaceflight in 1992 aboard shuttle STS-45. That crew studied the Earth and the Sun. Foale flew aboard shuttle STS-63 in 1995. That flight was the first shuttle rendezvous with Mir station. Foale took a four-hour spacewalk during that mission. In 1997, he was launched to the station again, aboard shuttle Atlantis. Foale was the fifth American to live aboard the space station. In an incident at least as frightening as the earlier fire inside Mir, he had to survive one of the worst collisions in any human spaceflight when a Progress unmanned cargo supply ship from Russia slammed into Mir on June 25. The cargo ship punctured Mir's science module known as Spektr. Mir commander Vasily Tsibliev was controlling the docking of the cargo ship at the time. The accident left him with an irregular heartbeat. After Anatoly Solovyev was sent up as a replacement commander, he and Foale took a spacewalk. Foale returned to Earth in September 1997.
NASA portrait
David Wolf
Days aboard: 119
Dates: 1997 September 28 - 1998 January 25

David Wolf was born in Indiana on August 23, 1956. He worked as a doctor for the Air Force before he became an astronaut in 1990. As an astronaut, Wolf made two spaceflights. He flew aboard shuttle flight STS-58 in 1993, spending 14 days studying the effects of microgravity on the body. In 1997, Wolf became the sixth American to live aboard Russia's Mir space station, but only after the assigned astronaut, Wendy Lawrence, turned up too small to fit a Russian spacesuit. Wolf also didn't fly to Mir until after NASA Administrator Dan Goldin assured the U.S. Congress that the station was a safe place to live in space. Wolf then went to orbit aboard shuttle flight STS-86 in 1997. After the shuttle STS-86 crew docked with the Mir space station, Wolf went aboard Mir where he studied life sciences for four months. Wolf's flight was mostly free of troubles. He took one spacewalk.

NASA portrait
Andy Thomas
Days aboard: 130
Dates: 1998 January 25 - June 4
Andrew Thomas was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on December 18, 1951. He worked as a mechanical engineer before he became a NASA astronaut in 1992. The aeronautical engineer has spent more than 132 days in space on two spaceflights. In 1996, Thomas flew aboard shuttle STS-77. That crew erected an inflatable antenna. In 1998, Thomas became the seventh and last American to live on the space station. He had been David Wolf's backup before Wolf replaced Wendy Lawrence. Thomas' flight was mostly free of problems, although the Russian press needled him for his limited command of the Russian language. Thomas spent more than four months aboard the space station. He was last NASA astronaut to stay aboard Mir.
Working In Open Space
by Mikhail Chernyshov, Space Writer, Novosti Press Agency
As the crown jewel of the space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the third-generation Mir station floated in orbit above Earth for fifteen years from 1986 to 2001. In 1987, cosmonauts from the Soviet Union took up permanent occupancy in the orbiting station. Over the years, cosmonauts took many spacewalks outside Mir.
13 years ago
This STO print archive article is a special report on an October 1988 spacewalk by cosmonauts at the orbiting Mir space station, written in 1989 by Mikhail Chernyshov, space writer, Novosti Press Agency, in response to a request for information from the editors of Space Today.
Novosti dates to 1941 when the Soviet Information Bureau (Sovinformburo) was established by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party. Today, long after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian Information Agency - Novosti is the state news and analytical agency of the Russian Federation publishing periodicals and offering press and photo services.
Russian Space Station Mir while still in orbit above Earth
Mir station while still in orbit
On October 20, 1988, the Mir crew carried out a number of intricate operations in open space. The job was done by Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov, while Dr. Valery Polyakov, the third member of the crew, was on standby in the descent module of the Soyuz TM-6 craft docked with the orbital complex.
"The spacewalk pursued several aims," Victor Blagov, deputy flight director said. "The first two were to test new spacesuits and to complete repairs on the Dutch TTM telescope on the external wall of the Kvant-1 astrophysical module, which forms part of the orbital complex.
"Additional operations were also planned: to assemble an aerial for radio communication with amateurs, to mount a special anchor for a Soviet-French crew that plans a spacewalk late in December of this year, and to remove dust from portholes and a TV camera on the Kvant-1's outer wall."
Broken Lens. As for the spacesuits, their tests were planned in advance, before the start of the space expedition last December. However, it so happened later that the lens of the Kvant-1 telescope -- a block of electronic detectors -- deteriorated and had to be repaired. The repairs were begun last June but were not finished because the key for unlocking the block ring was broken. Replacement of the lens was postponed. Now it was decided to combine the two tasks during one spacewalk. If everything went smoothly and the cosmonauts had time to spare, they would perform other jobs.
"The key, broken when unlocking the fastening ring, developed into quite a problem," according to Oleg Tsygankov, a space repairs specialist.
"We had to devise three methods of separating or breaking up the ring embedded in the telescope's tube. A set of seven tools -- including an abrasive electric cutter, drills, removers and special nippers -- were developed.
Quick Job. "In fact, about three-quarters of the work to get to the ring was already done by the cosmonauts during their previous spacewalk in June. If everything were to go smoothly, Titov and Manarov would only need ten minutes to open the ring and install a new detector block.
"The rest of the time could be spent on erecting an amateur radio aerial, on cleaning up the portholes and TV camera lens, and on installing an anchor. The anchor saved the coming Soviet and French cosmonauts some 30 minutes during their spacewalk December 9, 1988, for testing solar panels mounted on an intricate structure which opens up only in space."
"As for the spacesuits," says Mikhail Balashov, one of the suit's developers, "the cosmonauts first tested them in the station, working on the exact copies of the fastening ring sent by the Dutch. The new spacesuits do not differ from the old ones in outward appearance. It is the sleeves that have been modified mostly. They now can be adjusted for height and size.
13 years ago
Changing Sleeves. "Normally, one spacesuit is used many times. The leg and arm sleeves, being most vulnerable, are sometimes damaged," Balashov explained. "It is understandable that to glue together or sew up a torn sleeve on board the spacecraft is not the best way of repairing them. Sleeves of the new spacesuit -- whether for legs or arms -- can be replaced totally.
"Some modifications have been made in other parts of the suit. The gloves now are more flexible. Life-support systems last longer," Balashov said.
A spacesuit for extravehicular activities does not look too complex -- but that is so only at first sight. Experts once counted that a spacesuit contains more elements and systems than a car.
Miniature Spacecraft. Indeed, it has the heat regulation system, a medical monitoring block, and radio communications name a few. In fact, a spacesuit is a real spacecraft in miniature.
Experts stress that the new spacesuit has its own power sources and can operate independent of the station. True, the lifeline remains, for there are no means at the Mir orbital station as yet to get back a cosmonaut who has broken free. Oxygen supplies in the main and standby cylinders make up, all in all, 1,500 liters. This allows a cosmonaut to work in open space for up to eight and a half hours -- but that is the limit. That time includes all preparatory operations so actual time in space doing most work rarely exceeds six hours.
For the October spacewalk, it was early morning when the Mir crew began final preparations for their job outside. At 10 a.m., Titov and Manarov opened the outer hatch and emerged from the station. Difficulties began at once...first with the umbilical cord which got tangled. But, somehow, the cosmonauts coped with all problems as they arose. In the end, the planned operations were completed an hour ahead of schedule.
(28) Spaceflight
The Missile Race

    The end of World War II came in 1945, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities, were each destroyed by a single atomic bomb. Rocketry suddenly took on a new, terrifying image. The 1-ton payload of the German V2 only caused limited damage: it was an unstoppable terror weapon, but strategically insignificant. Now that destructive power could be increased 20,000 times. Ten years later, when the H-bomb was perfected, that ratio climbed into the millions.

    This realization, in the years after World War II, turned the military into a major supporter of rocket development, especially in the US and in the USSR, the Soviet Union (now the Russian republic and its allies). Though many people still dreamt of exploring space, the support money--for a while at least--went to the development of missiles.

 Sergei Korolev

    The early military rockets were actually quite adaptable to scientific uses. The military sought "Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles" (ICBMs) able to hit any point on Earth, and for this they had to be able to impart a velocity very close to the one needed to achieve an orbit above the atmosphere. Both the US and the USSR concentrated on liquid-fueled rockets. The US captured a fair number of usable V2s, as well as the German rocket-design team headed by Wernher von Braun, who soon took a key role in the development of US missiles. The USSR also captured V2 engines, and Russian rocket designers, headed by Valentin Glushko and Sergei Korolev ("Koralyov") duplicated those rockets and then went on to develop their own, more powerful designs.

13 years ago
 In the US these efforts led to the Thor and Jupiter rockets with a range of the order of 2000-3000 km, and to the Atlas, whose range was indeed intercontinental. At the same time a series of scientific rockets was developed from JPL's "Corporal", namely the Aerobee for studies of the upper atmosphere and the Viking, a larger vehicle. More limited development projects for missiles and scientific rockets took place in Britain and France.    
The International Geophysical Year

    Scientific rockets made possible, for the first time, studies of high altitude phenomena and observations of the Sun in ultra-violet wavelengths, usually blocked by the atmosphere. Among those active here was James Van Allen, who in the late 1940s sent Geiger counters, detectors of fast ions and electrons, to high altitudes aboard Aerobee and V2 rockets. Aware that rockets wasted a great deal of energy overcoming air resistance, he and his team at the University of Iowa later suspended small scientific rockets from high-altitude balloons and fired them by remote control once they were above the bulk of the atmosphere. In 1953 one such rocket was fired into the polar aurora ("northern lights

    By international agreement 1957-8 was declared as the "International Geophysical Year" (IGY), a time for special international efforts to study the solid Earth, the ocean, atmosphere and the Earth's space environment. The US announced that it planned to launch at that time a small satellite with a radio beacon, the "Vanguard", using a multi-stage rocket based on the Viking technology. Unofficially Von Braun also prepared a military rocket for launching a satellite, which Van Allen's group at the University of Iowa provided, but he was not permitted to do so ahead of the official Vanguard mission.

Sputnik  Korolev's R-7 "Semiorka"
 rocket, similar to the one that
 launched the Sputniks.

    The USSR also announced its intention of launching artificial Earth satellites during the IGY, but the US and its allies did not take that announcement seriously. They were unaware of the long development of Russian long-distance rockets, leading to Korolev's R7 rocket, the Semiorka ("little number seven"), a huge vehicle powered by 20 rocket engines. It was not only a very effective launcher, but also rather beautiful to behold: four tapered first-stage rockets, each with a cluster of 4 engines, surrounding the main vehicle which was powered by a cluster of its own.

On October 4, 1957, that rocket inserted the first USSR "sputnik" (= satellite) into a circular orbit above the atmosphere, causing a great commotion throughout the world. Sputnik was seen as a challenge to the US technology, as well as evidence of Soviet missiles with intercontinental range. Not only did the US hurry up its own launch plans, but it reassessed the science education program of its schools and other underpinnings of advanced technology. A month later the USSR launched Sputnik 2, which carried a dog named Laika, proving that living beings could fly into space and survive.

    The US tried but failed to launch its Vanguard satellite on December 6, 1957. The margin of extra lifting power of the Vanguard's first stage was rather small, and in the critical first seconds it did not rise fast enough to safely lift the rocket off the pad; instead the rocket toppled and burned. Today all space launches employ clamps to hold the rocket down during those seconds, until full thrust is achieved; if you ever watch the countdown of a spaceflight launch, you might note that "ignition" comes a short instant before "lift-off. " It wasn't so in the early days. Later launches of "Vanguard" lifted off successfully, but it was the 1957 failure that is remembered.

) and observed a large incoming flow of fast particles, later identified as electrons.
13 years ago

    In view of the success of Sputnik and the failure of Vanguard, Von Braun's launch plan was given the go-ahead, and on January 31, 1958, it orbited the first successful US satellite, Explorer 1 (launch picture on right). Aboard it was Van Allen's Geiger counter, and a similar spacecraft, Explorer 3, followed it in March (Explorer 2 failed).

    Van Allen had planned to observe the cosmic radiation, high-speed ions (atoms stripped of electrons) from the distant universe. In particular, it sought to measure the flow of cosmic ray ions of the lowest energies, which are completely absorbed by the atmosphere and therefore cannot be studied from the ground (the recent Sampex mission studied such particles, with much better instruments). Unlike the orbits of the Sputniks, that of Explorer 1 was quite elliptic, rising to altitudes above 2000 km.

    At the higher altitudes, strangely, the rate of cosmic ray particles recorded by the Geiger counter dropped to zero. The reason was found by Explorer 3, which showed that at the higher elevation the actual radiation was so high that the instrument became overloaded. This way was discovered the belt of "trapped radiation" (that is, of trapped ions and electrons) extending around the Earth, held by the Earth's magnetic field.

Exploring Further

More of the story of the discovery of the radiation belt is told here, part of an extensive overview "

3 books on the history of spaceflight, reviewed by Alex Roland in Nature,. . . .

"Countdown: A History of Spaceflight" by T. A. Heppenheimer, 398 pp., Wiley 1997.

"Korolev: How One Man masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon", by James Harford, 292 pp. Wiley, 1997.
(Also reviewed by Alan Wells in New Scientist, 19 July 1997, p.44)

Something New Under the Sun: "Satellites and the Beginnings of the Space Age" Helen Gavaghan, 300 pp. , Copernicus, 1998.

A superb sourcebook on all aspects of spaceflight--history, vehicles, missions, etc.: "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Space" edited by Michael Rycroft, Univ. of Cambridge Press, 1990. Related book in French: "Le Gran Atlas de l'Espace," Encyclopaedia Universalis, 1989.

Blazing the Trail, the Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry, by Michael Gruntman, 503pp, published by AIAA (Amer. Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), 2004.

The Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere."
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