Recently in History Category

Heroic Junkyard Owner Says He Saved Priceless Moon Rover From Scrap Heap, Motherboard

"Tuesday, we told the sad story of a prototype NASA lunar rover that was sold by an Alabaman to a scrap yard. That is true, but there's a twist: A heroic scrap dealer has saved the buggy, which appears to be in good condition."

Someone in Alabama Sold a Priceless Lunar Rover for Scrap Metal, Motherboard

"According to documents acquired by Motherboard as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, a priceless lunar rover prototype designed for the Apollo missions was sold to a junkyard in Alabama for scrap metal sometime last year. Specific names and details are redacted in the documents, which include internal emails and reports by NASA's Office of the Inspector General, the agency responsible for investigating and recovering lost and stolen NASA property."

- Skylab Is Still Rotting in Huntsville, earlier post
- JSC Is Letting a X-38 Rot In The Rain, earlier post

Bad News From Earth

11 September 2001: Bad news from Earth, New Moon Rising

"In Washington, and all along the east coast, it was another one of those classic clear September days [Bill] Readdy had stopped to admire the previous week. While many were still on the commute into work, the attacks began. At NASA Headquarters, as with the rest of Washington DC, no one quite knew what was going on. Soon people were watching news footage of the Twin towers on fire in New York. Then came word of an explosion at the Pentagon and rumors (which later proved to be false) of another one at the State Department. Anyone looking to the west from Washington could clearly see a plume of dark smoke rising from across the Potomac. Meanwhile, rumors of another plane flying up the Potomac toward Washington made the rounds. Other rumors spread of an odd plane seen circling above the Mall. People quickly left their desks and, in the hours ahead, managed to find their way home. Soon the entire agency would either be shut down or shut off from the rest of the world. Shuttles were secured, and gates were locked."

NASA Remembers September 11th

"Upon further reflection, Culbertson said, "It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are."

Keith's note: As I noted last week there is a Kickstarter effort to recreate the NASA 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual - the document that spelled out how NASA's new logo aka the worm logo - was to be used by the agency. Very retro cool. So what does NASA do they release the document online for free. Why not - its a government document. One small problem: the NASA online version is a pathetically ugly scan of the document whereas the Kickstarter team is going to make their version look as nice as the original.

By all means the Reissue of the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual on Kickstarter will be a vastly superior product. They exceeded their original $158,000 and are now at $683,456. Please support it.

The Care and Feeding of the NASA Worm Logo, earlier post

Apollo-Soyuz Lessons

What We Can Learn From a Forty-Year Old Handshake in Space, Ron Garan

"For the first 15 years of my adult life, I trained to fight the Russians as a fighter pilot during the Cold War. On April 4th, 2011, two and a half decades after joining the U.S. Air Force, I stood at the base of a rocket that would take me and my two Russian crewmates, Sasha Samokutyaev and Andrei Borisenko, into space from the same launchpad as Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, fifty years before."

Related: History Remembered: The 40th Anniversary of the Flight of Apollo-Soyuz

Bernice Steadman

Bernice Steadman, part of NASA's 'Mercury 13' dies, AP

"A woman who was among 13 selected for training as possible astronauts in the early 1960s has died at her northern Michigan home. She was 89. Bernice Steadman was a member of the so-called "Mercury 13." NASA dropped the program, and it was 22 more years before a U.S. woman went to space."

Celebrate the Centennial of NASA's Predecessor: The NACA

"Today marks a special anniversary for the NASA family. It was 100 years ago, on March 3, 1915, when Congress created the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the organization from which NASA was created in 1958. The NACA was formed because our nation's leaders were concerned the U.S. was losing its edge in aviation technology to Europe, where World War 1 was raging on. Its mission, in part, was to "supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution." As you all know, we not only regained that edge, but we became the world leaders in civil aviation."


NASA Administrator Message: Day of Remembrance - Jan. 28, 2015

"Today we remember and give thanks for the lives and contributions of those who gave all trying to push the boundaries of human achievement. On this solemn occasion, we pause in our normal routines and remember the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight; and those lost in test flights and aeronautics research throughout our history."

Keith's note: NASA JSC is shutting down its Media Research Center. The MRC employees, with more than a century of collective service stretching back to the Apollo era, are being laid off effective 22 October. The building that houses this team will be closed. All materials will be put in boxes - and forgotten. This is a stupid, short-sighted decision. All too soon these boxes will get moved again and again as floor/shelf space is needed for more urgent things, labels will come off boxes, people will dig through the boxes looking for souvenirs that will end up on eBay, and the people who originally managed the contents will disappear. In so doing NASA will have lost yet another big chunk of its history.

I have seen the effect of this bad habit on NASA's part with my own eyes. Once you stop maintaing a resource like this it invariably disintegrates. Yet JSC seems to think that hosting longhorns and prairie chickens is a more important use of its limited funds.

Petitioning NASA Johnson Space Center - Please Save the Media Resource Center!,

Keith's note: Today is NASA's 56th birthday. This video contains NASA's first Administrator T. Keith Glennan delivering a message to employees of NACA about "N - A - S - A ". Is it just me or does this guy sound like Heywood Floyd during his moon base speech in "2001 A Space Odyssey"? Just sayin'.

NASA Releases Space Commerce Monograph

"NASA has released a new monograph "Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce" in the Monographs in Aerospace History series (no. 54)."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Message, SpaceRef

Marc's Note: It's hard to believe that it's been 45 years since Apollo 11. I was five years old and glued to my television like so many other people. That moment in time provided inspiration to countless people around the world.

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos, Wired

"Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald's. You won't get a burger there, though-its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who've rechristened the place McMoon's. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the '60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Progject has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above). Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it's being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible."

John Houbolt

NASA moon landing engineer John C. Houbolt dies at 95, AP

"John C. Houbolt, an engineer whose contributions to the U.S. space program were vital to NASA's successful moon landing in 1969, has died. He was 95. His efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet."

John Houbolt, Wikipedia

Keith's update: We REALLY Need this document: GSFC Document ISEE-733-74-001, Revision C, dated 28 June1976 "International Sun-Earth Explorer - A/C, Electrical Interface Specification".  Does anyone have a copy?

Keith's note: We have had multiple folks ask if we have any received data telemetry tapes from ISEE-3 or the others in the series (ISEE-1 or ISEE-2). If anyone has any of these tapes it would be incredibly useful as we could then feed them into our software radio program. We have the ability to read a lot of different formats as that is what we have been doing with the Lunar Orbiter and the Nimbus data recovery efforts. If anyone has them squirreled away in boxes anywhere it would be great to know about. Send an email to wingod - at - if you have any information on possible tapes.

Help us make ISEE-3 do science again at

Tweeting JFK and NASA

Deep Space Music Network

Listening to the Deep Space Music Network, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP)

"Dennis Wingo: A funny story from today. I was running a Lunar Orbiter tape today and all of a sudden I started hearing music coming from the audio speaker. It was really nice, staring out with a piano solo and then a couple of other pieces then a full on concert by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It was really cool to hear this old sixties music coming across the deep space network."

Keith's note: All of the data tapes from the Lunar Orbiter program had an audio track that contained technical information by the tape drive operators at ground stations in Woomera, Goldstone, and Madrid. Usually it is technobable. Quite often there is also chatter about things in the news, and in this case, inadverdently, what was playing on the radio. Right now the LOIRP is going though a series of tapes recorded in Madrid.

- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project website
- 1967 Audio Recording on First Anniversary of Lunar Orbiter 1 Launch
- Lunar Orbiter Photo Techs talk About Looking for Surveyor 1 & Luna 9 Landing Sites
- Video: Lunar Orbiter Techs Talk About Crater Kepler in 1967

First Earthrise Photo Taken 47 Years Ago Today

"47 Years ago today, on 23 August 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 snapped the first photo of Earth as seen from lunar orbit. While a remarkable image at the time, the full resolution of the image was never retrieved from the data stored from the mission. In 2008, this earthrise image was restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. We obtained the original data tapes from the mission (the last surviving set) and restored original FR-900 tape drives to operational condition using both 60s era parts and modern electronics."

More information on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

Wallops History - Launching Excellence Through the Years (2010)

"Established in 1945 under NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) ... Wallops launched its first rocket on July 4, 1945. Since then, we have fulfilled our mission with the launch of more than 14,000 rockets."

Wallops Island - 60 Years of Exploration (2005)

"Since 1945, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has launched more than 15,000 rockets from Wallops Island for science studies, technology development, and as targets for the U.S. military."

Keith's note: Lets see. 1945-2010 - that's 65 years of rocket launches - 23,725 days. If Wallops did complete 14,000 rocket launches you'd need to launch a rocket every 1.7 days nonstop for 65 years. Or if you believe the 2005 number of 15,000 launches (60 years, 21,900 days) that would require a rocket launch every 1.5 days.

I wonder if Wallops actually has records to back up these conflicting claims. Or is this just something they keep repeating - because the old hands say its true and no one really cares to check. Indeed, Wallops PAO can't even get their own grand history straight. In 2005 they claimed it was 15,000 launches. Five years later it was 14,000. How did the number go down - shouldn't it be going up? It is interesting that both numbers are exact multiples of a thousand and that they differ by exactly 1,000.

Keith's update: I asked Wallops PAO "Do you have actual statistics to support the 14,000 / 15,000 launches from Wallops claims that appear on webpages? Why are there different official numbers? Can you direct me to those statistics - and explain what a "rocket launch" actually means i.e. does it include model rocket launches, mortars, etc.?"

NASA at 55

NASA at 55, SpaceRef

"President Eisenhower commissioned Dr. T. Keith Glennan, right, as the first administrator for NASA and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden as deputy administrator. The National Aeronautics and Space Act, the United States federal statute that created NASA, was signed into law 55 years ago today on July 29, 1958.

NASA officially began operations on Oct. 1, 1958, to perform civilian research related to space flight and aeronautics.

The Birth of NASA
By NASA's Chief Historian, Steven J. Dick
(First published March 28, 2008 for the 50th anniversary.)

It may well be argued that NASA has become the world's premier agent for exploration, carrying on in "the new ocean" of outer space a long tradition of expanding the physical and mental boundaries of humanity. Fifty (Five) years ago, however the agency that pushed the frontiers of aeronautics, took us to the moon, flew the space shuttle, built the International Space Station and revealed the secrets of the cosmos, was in its birth throes, and fundamental decisions were being made that profoundly shaped all that was to come."

Marc's note: What are your thoughts on NASA 55 years after it came into existence?



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