Friday, May 18th, 2001.
Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise and me-February 2001
Overview Of Production
In 1955 President Eisenhower authorized the Department of Navy to proceed with its Vanguard scientific satellite project. This project was approved not to beat the Soviets into space, but as part of the International Geophysical Year of international cooperation to study the Earth. Everybody assumed that the Navy would launch the world’s first artificial satellite into space. However, America’s race to space began with the roar of a rocket launched not within the United States but instead deep in the heart of the Soviet Union at a place called Kazakhstan. In October 1957, the Soviets, using an A-model two-stage rocket, successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite called Sputnik into Earth orbit. This brilliant achievement startled the world, and the United States, caught up in the Cold War with the Russians, stepped up its own preparations to launch an artificial satellite. But a month later another Soviet satellite was launched, Sputnik 2, which carried the dog Laika into orbit. Lagging behind the Russians, the US hoped to launch a satellite with a Vanguard launch vehicle developed by the US Navy, but the attempt failed. US President Eisenhower then directed the Army team, under Werner Von Braun, to make a launch effort. Three months later, in January 1958, a Jupiter-C launch vehicle successfully carried the 14- kilogram satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit. However, the Soviets rained on the American parade just six months later when they launched the 1.3-ton Sputnik 3 into orbit, keeping the Russians one step ahead of the US in the race to space.
While the Russians were setting a fast early pace, the United States was in the process of initiated the Mercury Project which began in 1958. Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program and welcomed seven extraordinary people to the mission. These seven astronauts were men that had vision and they worked feverishly to do the best that they could do. The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific:
* To recover both man and spacecraft safely.
Three weeks after Gagarin's space flight, the US launched a Mercury
spacecraft carrying Alan
Shepard on a ballistic trajectory flight. Shortly after this achievement,
Gus Grissom followed on
a similar suborbital mission, and in February 1962 John Glenn made the first US orbital flight, making
three orbits of the Earth. In all
six spacecraft were launched and each had the number
7 included in its name. This was a gesture to the solidarity and
friendship of the seven astronauts who participated in the Mercury Project
missions. These seven astronauts looked toward the heavens, and, even though
they felt that the heavens were so far away, they risked all to light up the
Mission Control Center (MCC) based in Houston, Texas, was staffed with flight
controllers and support personnel who specialized in every aspect of a Gemini
mission, including spacecraft systems, flight operations, flight procedures,
support systems such as communications and space suits, and science experiments.
Gemini's specific objectives were to:
-Learn how to keep astronauts and equipment in space for up to two weeks
-Develop and test controlled reentry into the earth's atmosphere and precision landing in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean
-Enable astronauts to leave the spacecraft while in space.
During the ten-piloted Gemini missions 52 supplemental space
experiments were performed which demonstrated the value of space photography in
the fields of geology, oceanography and weather. Gemini photos were the first
images that indicated the fragility of the earth's resources and may be Gemini's
most lasting legacy.
With the accomplishment of each goal, we gained on the Russians in our quest to beat them to the moon and win the space race. The Mercury and the Gemini programs proved the effectiveness of the “rocket-man” to carry out and complete the objectives set out during each mission.
The Gemini Program that brought us up to speed with the Russians was
phased out with the splashing down of Gemini 12 in 1966.
On the horizon loomed the dawn of a new program that was conducted
between May 1961 and December 1972 by NASA.
The American manned lunar-space program designed to land an astronaut on
the moon and return him safely to earth, as well as to overtake the Soviet Union
in the race to dominate space exploration was titled the Apollo Program.
On January 27, 1967, the launch crew and flight
crew of the first manned Apollo mission was conducting a simulated countdown to
test the operations and compatibility of the (CSM) Command and service module
and the launch vehicle prior to their scheduled launch the following month.
a result of the fire, many changes were made to the design, manufacturing, test,
and checkout procedures of the vehicles and the management of the entire Apollo
program. Many of these changes were tested in the unpiloted Apollo missions 4,
5, and 6.
was the first flight test of the complete lunar landing mission and the first
Apollo spacecraft to be named, Gumdrop, the (CSM), and Spider the lunar module
or (LM). Apollo 9 remained in the
earth's orbit as the crew simulated a lunar landing. The crew also practiced backup safety maneuvers, including a
procedure in which astronauts used the LM as a lifeboat in case the command
module was rendered inoperable or uninhabitable. This procedure was subsequently
used to recover Apollo 13.
The first two days the crew ran into a couple of minor surprises, but generally
Apollo 13 was looking like the smoothest flight of the program. At 46 hours 43
minutes Joe Kerwin, the CapCom on duty, said, "The spacecraft is in real
good shape as far as we are concerned. We're bored to tears down here." It
was the last time anyone would mention boredom for a long time.
At 55 hours 46 minutes into the mission and as the crew finished a
49-minute TV broadcast showing how comfortably they lived and worked in
weightlessness, Lovell stated: "This is the crew of Apollo 13 wishing
everybody there a nice evening, and we're just about ready to close out our
inspection of Aquarius and get back for a pleasant evening in Odyssey - Good
night." With this mission
control ask the astronauts to perform a few house cleaning duties one of which
was to stir the oxygen tanks. Upon
doing this the fateful words from Odyssey reached mission control and the world.
At the time of the explosion, the return time to the earth was over
four days. Because the LM did not have enough oxygen or water for this length of
time, it became
necessary to use the LM lunar landing engine for a major propulsive maneuver in
space to change the spacecraft's path and speed its return to the earth.
Overcoming numerous life-threatening problems, including near freezing
temperatures and excess carbon dioxide which required the ingenuity of engineers
on Earth to create a filter, was at times overwhelming for not only the
astronauts but also for family members who waited faithfully for their return.
the Challenger accident in 1986, over 50 shuttle missions have been completed
with no serious mishaps. The
most notable of these are the scientific missions that launched these
exploratory spacecraft: Magellan (launched May 1989), the probe designed
for radar mapping of the planet Venus; Galileo (launched October 1989), the
unmanned spacecraft that reached Jupiter in December 1995; Ulysses (launched
October 1990), a probe designed for study of the Sun; and the Hubble Space
Telescope (launched April 1990), a high-powered telescope designed to make
astronomical observations from space, away from the interference of Earth's
In July 1995 competition became cooperation as the Shuttle Atlantis linked up with the Russian space station Mir. This mission was the first of nine shuttle/Mir linkups between 1995 and 1998. These flights were the precursors toward assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) which began construction in orbit in late 1998. The first docking with MIR was perhaps the most significant event in the history of space flight since the symbolic joining of Apollo and the Soyuz spacecraft 20 years earlier. It signaled a new age of cooperation in space, where exploration of the universe would be measured more in terms of what a coalition of nations had accomplished rather than what a single nation had achieved.
in late 1998, the majority of the space shuttle missions were devoted to the
construction of the new ISS. After the ISS is completed (completion is scheduled
for 2003), the shuttle will travel to the new space station to exchange crews,
deliver new experiments, and return completed experiments and used materials to
Lyndon B. Johnson
Space Center Houston
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Shuttle Challenger Memorial
Shuttle Columbia Memorial