Posts Tagged ‘ Historical ’
On March 9, 2011, space shuttle (technically, orbiter) Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center after its final mission in space. This marked the conclusion of Discovery’s 38th mission (STS-133), from which it will retire as NASA’s hardest-working orbiter in the shuttle fleet. Discovery was NASA’s workhouse and many related it as the shuttle fleet’s eldest sibling. Here is a small list of Discovery’s amazing accomplishments over its 27-year history of spaceflight:
- Discovery got its names from historical sea-faring ships, primarily HMS Discovery which was commanded by Captain James Cook during his third and final voyage (1776-1779). Henry Hudson also searched for the Northwest Passage in a ship named discovery in 1610-1611.
- Discovery performed 39 missions and took 246 astronauts to space.
- In April 1990, Discovery released the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit
- Discovery carried Russian cosmonaut, Sergei Krikalev, to space. The first Russian to ever fly in a NASA spacecraft.
- Discovery spent a total of 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles
- Discovery was the first shuttle to fly after both the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
As someone who considers himself a member of the “Space Shuttle Generation”, it’s sad to see Discovery retired; however, I have positive feelings about being able to live in a time to watch her in action.
Continue Reading »
Last week, we recognized sad and tragic events in space history; with the anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire and the Challenger disaster. Today, we lighten things up a bit with a look back in space history.
50 years ago today, a chimpanzee named Ham* was strapped to a rocket and launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a 16 minute, 39 second sub-orbital flight. The flight was part of NASA’s Mercury Project which sent the first American into space.
The NASA publication, This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, gives an explanation of Ham’s mission:
Having the same organ placement and internal suspension as man, plus a long medical research background, the chimpanzee chosen to ride the Redstone and perform a lever-pulling chore throughout the mission should not only test out the life-support systems but prove that levers could be pulled during launch, weightlessness, and reentry.
Levers could be pulled, and just about as well as they could be pulled in training on Earth. In fact, Ham’s reaction time was only .02 of a second slower than his performance of the same task on Earth.
During the flight, Ham’s capsule suffered from a partial loss of pressure; however, Ham’s spacesuit saved him from harm. All said and done, Ham returned to Earth in great physical shape, save a bruised nose.
After his flight, Ham spent the next 17 years living at the National Zoo, in Washington D.C. He made numerous television appearances, and appeared in film with Evel Knievel. He died of natural causes in 1983, at the age of 26. Ham has a grave at the International Space Hall of Fame in New Mexico.
So today, we look back 50 years and remember Ham and thank him for his contributions to space science.
*Technically, he wasn’t named Ham until after his successful mission and return to Earth. Until then, he was simply, #65. This is reportedly because officials were concerned with the bad publicity that would result if an unsuccessful mission was compounded with a named chimp. His handlers, however, called him Chop Chop Chang.
Today marks 44 years since the tragic fire of Apollo 1, which claimed the lives of all three crew members.
We remember Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee, who gave their lives then, so we can touch the stars today.Continue Reading »