Sunday, May 31, 2009


One of the less glamorous parts of the Apollo lunar missions was orbital photography. While the moonwalkers were down on the moon, captivating millions with their exploits, the lone orbiting astronaut would continue his ongoing task of mapping the lunar surface. Here we see a reference chart from Apollo 17, carefully mapping out each photo returned from space. The level of detail is exquisite, and the artwork meticulous.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Today's post is a sketch by Wernher von Braun depicting an orbital workshop to be built inside a Saturn SII stage. It was a so-called "wet" design because the internals would have to be optimized after the stage had been used as a tank for propellants. Dated November of 1964, it was an early study that ultimately resulted in the design for Skylab (which was launched "dry" and fully outfitted). At the time of this proposal, working in space was still an unknown, and a post-orbital outfitting of the workshop may have been a bit optimistic. But the idea was sound overall, with interior modules passed down from the stage above through a tunnel into the SII stage. It's ideas like this that earned von Braun the moniker of "Father of the Apollo Program." For more information, see the Wikipedia entry here. See you tomorrow!

Friday, May 29, 2009


In 1958, Robert Gilruth, head of the Space Task Group at the dawn of NASA, was struggling with a problem. It probably devoured more of his time than it deserved, as seen in the memo here. Forwarded to relevant parties by George Low, Chief of Manned Space Flight. this memo, created just a few months after the founding of NASA, details Gilruth's apparent displeasure with the name then under consideration for America's first manned space project- Project Mercury. If he wanted a new name for Mercury (see memo), would Gemini have become "Project Two Astronauts"? And Apollo perhaps "Project Tres Amigos"? You decide.


Welcome to the Missions to the Moon book blog. This is a place to re-live the heady days of the Apollo and Soyuz lunar programs- perhaps the crowning achievements of the 20th Century. Many blog entries will include a new downloadable image or artifact from the space age- items rarely seen and not available in print. It's all in the spirit of my newest book, Missions to the Moon- to remember the great adventure of the Golden Age of space exploration, and ponder what wonders await us in space.

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