Category Archives: Human Spaceflight

Apostles of Apollo


The Apostles of Apollo
The Apostles of Apollo.

I am presently reading a very interesting book that I happened to come across whilst browsing through Amazon.co.uk a week or so back. It is a little known story but one that had to an air of secrecy about it, because of the sensitivity that revolved around the symbolism, politics and religious implications of those who would eventually takes those first steps upon The Moons surface. The title of the book is ‘The Apostles of Apollo’  Carol Mersch. Continue reading Apostles of Apollo

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – NASA is Go!


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Thunderbirds are GO!! Along with millions of others – both adults and kids alike – I was expectantly ‘glued’ to the family television on a Thursday evening in September 1965, when the first ever episode of Thunderbirds was shown.

The creators of what was to become an iconic television series, were Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who would later find more success with their ‘Supermarionation’ puppet format, with series such as ‘Captain Scarlet’, ‘Jo 90’ and a hybrid venture incorporating both real life actors and model machines – ‘UFO’, which I personally felt was a very underrated TV series. Continue reading 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – NASA is Go!

James Irwin: Journeyed to The Moon to discover God


Astronaut James Irwin. Image Courtesy of NASA
Astronaut James Irwin. Image Courtesy of NASA

To most people, March 17th was just another day in the third month of the year. I would have counted myself with the majority of people, thinking that this was the case. That was until I came across a reference in one of the many space related newsletters that I read, that this particular date was the birthday of the eighth man to have walked upon The Moon. Why should this date have had more significance to me, than most others you may well ask? Well on one of the walls in the apartment that I live in, I have a signed print of this particular astronaut standing next to the Apollo 15 Lunar Module ‘Falcon’ along which is parked the Lunar Rover – the first vehicle to ever be driven on another world. The astronaut to whom I am referring was United States Airforce Colonel James B. Irwin. Continue reading James Irwin: Journeyed to The Moon to discover God

“ABANDON IN PLACE”


For those who have read my blogs in the past, will not be surprised to find out that I am a fully paid-up member of the ‘space cadets club’. Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, my formative years were heavily influenced by the dawn of the Space Age and mankind’s first attempts to fly higher and faster and eventually break free of our Earth’s atmosphere and enter the realm of space itself. Continue reading “ABANDON IN PLACE”

‘Gravity’ – Art Imitating Fact


Art Imitating Reality

I had the pleasure of visiting the cinema recently and viewing the much lauded and Oscar winning film Gravity. This film has won numerous awards including the best director award at the recent Oscar’s ceremony, along with many more for the incredible special effects, which were devised by the UK based company Framestore.

Astronaut Ryan Stone working outside of the ISS.
Image taken from the film Gravity, shows Astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) working outside of the International Space Station. Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

The film is a visual tour-de-force in that the special effects are absolutely immersive, leaving you feeling that you are actually out there in Earth orbit with the two leading actors – Sandra Bullock playing the part of astronaut ‘Ryan Stone and George Clooney playing the part of veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski for whom this will be his last space flight before retiring. Continue reading ‘Gravity’ – Art Imitating Fact

Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1


if we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.

—Astronaut Gus Grissom, 1965

Official NASA portrait of Virgil I. Grissom. Image Courtesy of NASA.
Official NASA portrait of Virgil I. Grissom. Image Courtesy of NASA.

I knew it must be serious . . . . . . I think I was down my grand-parents house and the old black and white television was on, sitting on its special table in the corner. We weren’t taking much notice of it, or at least I wasn’t. But then all the chattering stopped and I looked up from whatever it was that I was doing and noticed everyone was quiet and looking at the TV set.

On screen was one of the TV news presenters and under his image on the screen was the word ‘News Flash’ or something like that. The next thing that happened was that the TV was going ‘live’ to one of its reporters at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where reports were coming in indicating that a serious accident had occurred. Continue reading Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1

. . . . thoughts on manned exploration of space . . . .


‘if we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.’

— Astronaut Gus Grissom, 1965

. . . “affirmative Dave, I can hear you . . . “


Beginners Guide to the HAL 9000 Computer

I have had a number of people ask me what significance the HAL 9000 image has with last post that I published, in which I described the problems I had in retrieving my repeat prescription.

The iconic sequence of the Pan Am space clipper approaching the giant rotating space station.
The iconic sequence of the Pan Am space clipper approaching the giant rotating space station. It is during this part of the film that we are transported to the present and the we become almost fellow travellers on the Pan Am space clipper which is taking Dr Heywood Floyd to the orbiting space station.  It is during this sequence, that viewers senses become immersed by the visual, ballet like sequence of the clipper and space station docking; accompanied by the inspired choice of ‘The Blue Danube’ as the soundtrack. Up until this point of the film, there has been no dialogue to accompany the visual spectacle which has so far been viewed. Other than the sight and sounds of the primeval grunts and shrieks of our human ancestors and the various other creatures of the pre-history scenes, the first conversation takes place as Dr Floyd is welcomed aboard the orbiting space station after the successful docking between it and the space clipper. So successful has been this docking scene – along with ‘The Blue Danube’ soundtrack that accompanies it – many people find themselves becoming automatically transported to this iconic sequence upon hearing it. After his brief visit to the orbiting space station, Dr Floyd will embark for his onward journey via the Moon shuttle to the American ‘Clavius Base’, whereupon he will then brief everyone there about the implications of the discovery of the ‘Monolith’ which has been recently uncovered during a geographical excavation nearby. For those of you who may not either be interested, or are too young to remember, HAL was one of the more unusual star characters to come out of the 1968 seminal film “2001 A Space Odyssey”, which was a collaborations between the visionary film Director – Stanley Kubrick – and the great Science Fiction author and pioneer of the theory of geostationary orbits – Arthur C. Clarke.

For those who know me and now hopefully – those that know me for my written posts – it must be pretty obvious by now, that I am something of an aging ‘Space Cadet’.  This being the case, the film 2001has had a lot to do with my lifelong interest in all things Spaceflight related.

After many years of collusion and researching what the future may hold for mankind in and around the year 2000, this joint venture of a film was finally released around Christmas time of the year 1968. They say fortune rewards the brave and this films release could not have been more fortuitous, in that it was finally able to be viewed by the general public at the time Apollo 8 had become the first manned spaceflight ever to leave low Earth orbit and then orbit The Moon. Continue reading . . . “affirmative Dave, I can hear you . . . “

From Mercury to the Moon – Alan Shepard – Part 2


View in Lunar orbit from Lunar Orbit from Lunar Module 'Antares'.
View in Lunar orbit from Lunar Orbit from Lunar Module ‘Antares’. In the distance you can just make out the Earth rising. Image courtesy of NASA.

Part One of this article can be found by clicking here.

Apollo 14 had also had its share of ‘glitches’ on its transit from Earth to The Moon.

A major milestone of the mission was to accelerate the Apollo 14 spacecraft from the 17,500mph orbital velocity to 24,500mph. To achieve this velocity would mean re-igniting the still attached S-IVB third stage engine for 6 minutes. Once the ‘TLI burn’ had successfully occurred, the Apollo Command and Service Module’s would have to detach themselves from the now redundant S-IVB. However at the top end of the now expended third stage was the Lunar Module ‘Antares’, safely encased in the Lunar Module Adapter section. The Command Module Pilot – Stuart Roosa – would now perform a third vital maneuver of the mission; the ‘Transposition and Docking’ maneuver. This required separating the Command and Service Modules from third stage and then revolving the spacecraft so that the front of it was facing the now following S-IVB stage. A command would then be issued to open Lunar Module Adapter panels that encased the Lunar Module. With the panels successfully opened, the Command Module Pilot would apply forward thrust to Command Module and using a docking probe attached to the front of the Command Module, insert this into what was referred to as the drogue at the top of the Lunar Module.

Continue reading From Mercury to the Moon – Alan Shepard – Part 2

From Mercury to The Moon – Alan Shephard


It had been a long journey for Alan Shepard, both in time and the sacrifices he had to make in his life to be at the place he was now. The defining moment of all of these things; long hours of training, the frustration of looking from the outside in, had now taken him to this pivotal moment in time and space – literally.

Continue reading From Mercury to The Moon – Alan Shephard