Happy Sunday! You may be cool, but you’ll never be John Glenn kicking back in a NASA flight suit wearing Chucks cool. Read on for some more on John Glenn and for a wrap up of what happened this past week in space history.
On Monday I talked about STS-120, which was an International Space Station assembly mission, which delivered the Harmony module to the station. This mission also flew with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars Return of the Jedi. Sadly, no astronauts could take pictures with the lightsaber while in orbit. That would have been quite the photo op.
Tuesday was an interesting episode because I got to talk about the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar. Sadly, the Dyna-Soar never flew in space but was an interesting concept that spurred research into winged spaceplanes. It’s lineage now includes the Space Shuttle, the Boeing X-37 unmanned Orbital Test Vehicle for the United States Air Force, and the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Cargo lifting body that’s currently in development. Check out Episode 163 to hear more.
The Mississippi Test Facility and my brief stop at the John C. Stennis Space Center was the topic for Wednesday’s episode. The engines tests for all the manned Apollo flights were conducted at Stennis, as well as every engine ever flown over the Shuttle program. Stennis has played a crucial role in the testing and validation of engines that have been used to send humans into space for the past half-century. Here are a few pictures that I took during my all too quick tour of that facility. Episode 164.
If you follow me here on Medium, you probably read the piece I wrote on the Space Shuttle Enterprise last week. This is one of my favorite episodes that I’ve done for the podcast so give it a listen even if you’ve read the article. Here’s a picture of the Enterprise that I hadn’t included my previous post. Episode 165.
Episodes 166 and 167 both featured test flights of NASA rockets. The Saturn I SA-1 launched for the first time on October 27th, 1961. The Saturn launch vehicle family is one of the most storied in spaceflight history, due to the historical significance of the human crews those massive rockets carried into orbit. Episode 167 talked about the Ares I-X launch, the first and only flight of the rocket that was supposed to be the “first flight of a new era.” The Ares never flew again, and the Constellation program was scrapped.
I will be in California for the launch of a Delta II rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System 1 satellite for NOAA. This will be the penultimate launch of the venerable Delta 2 rocket. I’m excited to have the chance to fly out to the West Coast for a launch. I will also be visiting a few other space-related tourist stops while in Los Angeles. It will be great to see the Endeavour, which will leave Discovery as the only Shuttle I’ve never seen in person.
Today’s episode was a fun one to research, mainly because I remember the media coverage of John Glenn’s historic return to space. I remember my grandparents talking about how they remembered his first flight into space and how it was remarkable that he was going to be flying again. I think that his second flight lived up to the namesake of his first spacecraft, Friendship 7. Glenn’s travels into space were in the spirit of friendship, and it’s only fitting that during his Shuttle flight he was part of a multinational crew, underscoring the bond that had been achieved for countries to take part in spaceflight together.
Tomorrow afternoon SpaceX is launching a Falcon 9 carrying a Korean communications satellite. This will be the 16th Falcon 9 launch of 2017, doubling the previous record of eight, a phenomenal feat for SpaceX.
Follow me on Facebook and keep an eye out for the link I will be sharing for the live stream of the launch. Check out the podcast through your app of choice, just search “The Space Shot” and subscribe!
On Wednesday I’m publishing a piece on Expedition 1, the International Space Station’s first crew and mission.