Friday, August 14, 2009


Today's post is a pull from Wikipedia- I couldn't resist because it's just so cool. As NASA was staring down the end of the Apollo missions, the Apollo Applications Office was considering a plan that had been under study for years- Apollo Venus. The idea was to send a "wet workshop"- an SIVB stage which could be used as a space station once empty- out to loop around Venus with a crew in a Command Module. The science intended in this mission would soon be carried out by robotic probes, but how cool would a manned flight past Venus be?

From Wikipedia: The proposed mission would use a Saturn V to send three men to fly past Venus in a flight which would last approximately one year. The S-IVB stage would be a 'wet workshop' similar to Skylab, first using the S-IVB engine to launch the mission on course to Venus, and then vented of any remaining fuel to serve as home for the crew for the duration of the mission. The Apollo SM engine would be used for course corrections on the way to Venus and back to Earth, and for a braking burn before the Command Module re-entered Earth's atmosphere. In order to free up more space in the Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter for the docking tunnel connecting the CSM to the S-IVB, the SPS engine on the Service Module would be replaced by two LM engines. These would provide similar thrust with shorter nozzles, and would also give the mission the added safety of redundant engines.
Precursors to the Venus flyby would include an initial orbital test flight with an S-IVB 'wet workshop' and basic docking adapter, and a year-long test flight taking the S-IVB to a near-geostationary orbit around the Earth.
One oddity of the Venus flyby mission is that, unlike trips to the Moon, the CSM would separate and dock with the S-IVB stage before the S-IVB burn, so the astronauts would fly 'eyeballs-out', the thrust of the engine pushing them out of their seats rather than into them. This was required because there was only a short window for an abort burn by the CSM to return to Earth after a failure in the S-IVB, so all spacecraft systems needed to be operational and checked out before leaving the parking orbit around Earth to fly to Venus.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


OK, this post is a bit of a departure. But I REMEMBER this as from the comic books of the day. The model was probably worth about $1, but could be yours for only $.10 IF you joined the science club, which would send you a "richly illustrated" 8000-word guide each month with stickers (the kind you had to lick) that you would transfer from the sticker sheet to the booklet. I still remember the taste of the glue, and the coating it left on my tongue after transferring 10 or 15 of those darned things. Even then I really didn't see the point- why couldn't THEY simply put the things in the booklet? I guess the idea was that if we had to peel the skin off our tongues after wetting the things, we'd remember the pictures....

Monday, August 10, 2009


OK, sorry for the awful pun. But for years I had never seen the docking mechanism between the Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module. Now, thanks to my friends at the Kansas Cosmosphere, I know what it looks like! To the left is the CM, to the right, the LM. As with most things Apollo it's not simple, but it got the job done, and with only the rare hitch. One exception was during the flight of Apollo 14, when it took six tries to dock with the LM still nestled in the SIVB stage. Stu Roosa, CM pilot, made increasingly aggressive docking attempts, but the latches would not lock. He also had to be cognizant of how delicate the LM was- the machine was lightly constructed, and too much thrust during docking could crush the ascent stage like a discarded Coke can. Fortunately for all. on the sixth try the latches fired, and the two spacecraft were off to the moon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've drawn, at random of course, a winner for my first book giveaway. Chris Smith, steadfast follower of this blog, will receive her book in the mail in a couple of weeks. with a personalized author-graph.

If you're looking at this, and aren't a blog follower, you're missing an opportunity to win a free book! Don't be silly! Click to follow now, there to the right----->

Monday, August 3, 2009


"Oops. You gotta uninvite the president... he might give the boys germs!" How's that for a PR nightmare? At the last moment, President Nixon had his Apollo 11 astronaut dinner canned because of concerns about germs. There was a bit of pressure- ok, outright condemnation- on NASA for the decision, especially at Dr. Chuck Berry, MD, who had made the call. Here, for the record, is the American Medical Association's response. They backed their man!

Currently writing sample chapters for a new Mars book. It will be exciting if it's commissioned. More as it occurs!


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.

For more info on the author, go to