Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. With the world watching the historic and live-televised event, Glenn orbited the Earth three times in his space capsule, Friendship 7. Four hours and 55 minutes after ignition, John Glenn and Friendship 7 returned to Earth and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.
The John Glenn Story, 1963
From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981,Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
This Week in Universal News: Apollo 1 Disaster
From the release sheet:
ASTRONAUT DISASTER Apollo astronauts Roger Chaffee, Edward White, and Gus Grissom are all killed in a flash-fire aboard their grounded space capsule. Investigators theorize perhaps a short circuit or electrical overload sparked the blaze. The first Apollo flight was scheduled for February.
Watch the entire newsreel, featuring cryogenics in Arizona, a Chicago blizzard, and other stories here.
About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:
The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.
In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).
While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.
The Project Gemini Space Rendezvous
The first orbital “rendezvous” of two manned spacecraft occurred on December 15, 1965 when the Gemini VI (Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford) and Gemini VII (Frank Borman and Jim Lovell) spacecraft were maneuvered to within 1 foot of each other while in orbit.
"Photograph of the Gemini VII spacecraft - side view turning adapter section toward camera - was taken from the Gemini VI spacecraft during rendezvous and station keeping maneuvers at an altitude of 161 nautical miles during orbit no. 6,on December 15,1965. G.E.T. time was 9:09/GMT time was 22.46. The two spacecrafts are approximately 40 feet apart."
From the file: Gemini VI, 12/15/1965 - 12/16/1965
More at the NASA Gemini Mission Page
Bon Voyage(r) as NASA’s Voyager 1 probe ventures into interstellar space!
A simulation of a Voyager spacecraft from “NASA’S 25th Anniversary Show, 1983” from the series: Moving Images Relating to U.S. Domestic and International Activities from the Records of the U.S. Information Agency.
More about the Voyager project from NASA’s Voyager Mission Pages
Happy Birthday NASA!
America in Space - The First Decade, 1968
From the NASA series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981
Happy 55th Birthday NASA!
On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 which “provided for research into the
problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere” and
established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Apollo 11 Flight Plan
The flight plan for Apollo 11 was a minute-by-minute time line of activities for the mission crew—Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin—and Mission Control in Houston. The flight was launched July 16, 1969. Touchdown on the moon took place, as scheduled, on July 20, 102 hours, 47 minutes, and 11 seconds after launch from Cape Kennedy. The astronauts spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon, and returned to Earth on July 24.
(and thanks to the Smithsonian Libraries tumblr for the illustrated inspiration!)
Apollo-Soyuz: Cold War Collaboration
On July 17, 1975, the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts docked together in space during the first joint U.S.-Soviet space mission. Cosmonauts Aleksey Leonov and Valeri Kubasov and astronauts Thomas Stafford, Vance Brand, and Donald Slayton conducted joint scientific experiments, exchanged gifts, and spoke in each other’s languages.
This mission was seen as an opportunity not only to cooperate in space but also to strengthen U.S.-Soviet cooperation in general.
President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev both called to congratulate the crews after the docking.
Model of the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft depicts their linkage in outer space. The commemorative pins attached to the base were worn by the cosmonauts when they presented the model to President Ford on September 7, 1974.
Photo and caption courtesy of NASA: In perhaps the most iconic image from the flight, astronaut Deke Slayton and cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov are seen together in the Soyuz spacecraft.
Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut to go into space, blasted off aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger 30 years ago, on June 18, 1983, as a mission specialist for Space Transportation System Mission 7 (STS-7).
Join us today at noon as we host special guests from NASA and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!
A panel of space experts will discuss the American space program as it developed under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, including the Apollo missions to the Moon, the decision to develop the space shuttle, and the 1975 Apollo–Soyuz test project.
The event is free at the National Archives in Washington, D.C
Thursday, June 13, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
You can also watch this event live on our Ustream channel [www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives].
Presented in partnership with NASA, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives.
While you are at the National Archives don’t miss the special display on The Space Program and President Nixon. You can see a set of moon tongs used by Apollo astronauts and much more!
Photo courtesy of NASA: Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station no. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site. Duke is standing at the rim of Plum crater, which is 40 meters in diameter and 10 meters deep. The parked Lunar Roving Vehicle can be seen in the left background.
The Prime Crew for the NASA’s First Manned Skylab Mission Meet the Press in a Final Briefing Prior to Isolation for the Coming Launch of Skylab II, 05/01/1973
Skylab, the first American space station, was launched unmanned on May 14, 1973. This photo is of the prime crew for the first manned Skylab mission at a final briefing prior to isolation for the coming launch, which occurred on May 24, 1973. The astronauts are (L. to R.) Charles Conrad Jr., Commander, Paul J. Weitz, Pilot, and Dr. Joseph P. Kerwin, Science Pilot.
This Saturday, The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries will be at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Space Day.
We’ll be hosting activities including:
- A Mission Checklist hunt for Apollo-related items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
- A Presidential Pop Quiz on U.S. Presidents and the Space Program.
Want a head start on your Mission Checklist? These Moon Tongs were used by Apollo mission astronauts to collect lunar samples.
The tongs are from the holdings of the Nixon Presidential Library and can be seen for a limited time in the “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program” display at the National Archives in D.C.
Close-up view of a set of tongs, an Apollo Lunar Hand Tool, being used by Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., to pick up lunar samples during the Apollo XII mission, November 19, 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA.
This set of tongs was used to collect lunar samples from the “Ocean of Storms,” the largest dark spot on the Moon’s surface, during the Apollo XII mission. It was presented to President Nixon by astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean.
Space photo of the Pacific Ocean, taken from the space shuttle orbiter Columbia during the first space transportation system test mission. The vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system pods of the Columbia are shown in the foreground, 04/1981
April 12 is the anniversary of two milestones in space exploration, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's voyage as the first human into space on 4/12/1961 and the first Space Shuttle mission, by the Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia on 4/12/1981 (STS-1).
In recognition of Gagarins’ historic first mission, April 12 is now commemorated as the International Day of Human Space Flight.