Who Was Ernest Shackleton? A Brief Biography

Ernest Shackleton

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nearly a century after his death, Ernest Shackleton is back in the news after Blue Origin tweeted a photo of the Antarctic explorer’s ship, Endurance, with the date 5.9.19.

The tweet has fed speculation that Jeff Bezos’ company might announce a mission next week to a crater at the south pole of the moon that is named after Shackleton. (For more about that, see Why Everyone Interested in Shackleton Crater.)

You might also be asking: Who was Shackleton? What did he accomplish at the South Pole? Why is a crater on the moon named after him? And what does all this have to do with Bezos?

All excellent questions. Let’s find more about one of history’s greatest explorers.

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NASA Selects Teams to Study Untouched Moon Samples

Astronaut John Young salutes the flag on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected nine teams to continue the science legacy of the Apollo missions by studying pieces of the Moon that have been carefully stored and untouched for nearly 50 years. A total of $8 million has been awarded to the teams.

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NASA Safety Panel Pushes Back Against Commercial Crew “Paperwork” Complaints

Crew Dragon for DM-1 mission with Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In its annual report issued last week, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) pushed back against complaints that the space agency has bogged down the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) with unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork.

“It should be recognized by all parties, both internal and external to NASA, that the certification process is not merely a ‘paperwork’ process; it involves considerable detailed technical activity by both NASA and the partners,” ASAP said.

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Richard Branson Wants to Fly on SpaceShipTwo on Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Richard Branson with the pilots of SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson says he wants to fly to space aboard SpaceShipTwo as America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, Agence France Presse (AFP) reports.

“My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on,” the head of the Virgin group said on the sidelines of an event to honor Virgin Galactic at the Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Whether a SpaceShipTwo flight on the anniversary of the moon landing will be seen as a fitting tribute to America’s greatest achievement in space or merely a giant PR distraction is uncertain.

Whether they will be able to make that date is equally unclear. SpaceShipTwo Unity is still undergoing flight tests at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Branson told AFP the next flight is set for Feb. 20, weather permitting.) And practically all of his previous predictions for the start of commercial flights have been proven wrong over the past 14.5 years.

Branson plans to be on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, which will take place from Spaceport America in New Mexico. His son, Sam, and other passengers are set to be aboard the flights. Perhaps he will take Apollo 11 moon walker Buzz Aldrin, who just turned 89, along with him.

Branson told AFP that Virgin Galactic costs $35 million per month or $420 million per year to operate. He previously estimated he has spent $1 billion to $1.3 billion on the SpaceShipTwo program since it was announced in 2004.

Virgin recently laid off about 40 employees from Virgin Galactic and its sister company, The Spaceship Company.

NASA, Buzz Aldrin Get Shout Out During State of the Union Speech

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the 2019 State of the Union address. (Credit: U.S. Senate Photo Studio/John Shinkle)

With Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin in attendance, President Donald Trump gave a shout out to NASA during the annual State of the Union address.

“In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets,” he said.

NASA’s commercial crew program is set to begin transporting astronauts to the International Space Station later this year. Today, NASA released the following schedule for flight tests of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Test Flight Planning Dates:

SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): March 2, 2019
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019

NASA Research Could Reshape Understanding of Moon Formation

“I think the thing that impressed me the most was the lunar sunrises and sunsets,” said Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders as he described his impressions of the Moon from about 60 miles. “These in particular bring out the stark nature of the terrain, and the long shadows really bring out the relief.” This oblique photograph looks northwest into the Sea of Tranquility, the site where Apollo 11 would land seven months later. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTONJan. 31, 2019 (NASA PR) — New NASA research combining experimental studies with analyses of samples collected nearly 50 years ago during Apollo provides compelling evidence that the Moon formed from the same materials as Earth in the aftermath of a giant impact between the young Earth and a Mars-sized impactor.

In the generally accepted model for the formation of the Moon, the proto-Earth is hit by a Mars-sized impacting body. In the aftermath of the impact, material from the impacting body ejected into a disk in Earth orbit and is thought to have formed the Moon.

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U.S. Mint Unveils Coins Commemorating Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary

Credit: U.S. Mint

WASHINGTON (U.S. Mint PR) – The United States Mint (Mint) opened sales for the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program on January 24 at noon EST.

This unique four-coin program includes the Mint’s first reeded five-ounce proof silver dollar, a $5 gold coin, a silver dollar, and a half dollar. All coins are curved. This year, the Mint increased the silver content of its commemorative standard silver dollars to 99.9 percent silver. In the past, these coins were 90/10 silver—90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

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Apollo 8 and Beyond – The Next Epoch

Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders looked back after leaving Earth orbit for the Moon. This view extends the northern hemisphere to the southern tip of South America. Nearly all of South America is covered by clouds. (Credits: NASA)

By Stephanie Zeller
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Half a century ago, Apollo 8 ushered in a new era of space exploration. The missions that followed in close succession would herald these breakthroughs in science and in engineering prowess with drama and color. They would bring a cornucopia of knowledge about the Moon, the origins of our solar system, the nature of our universe, the history of our Earth and even the history of life. In addition to tangible, scientific assets gained from Apollo, the mission brought some degree of unification to a nation fractured by conflict at home and abroad.

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Reflecting on Earthrise 50 Years Later

Earth rise from Apollo 8. (Credit: NASA)

Frank De Winne in the Soyuz-TMA spacecraft (Credit: ESA — STAR CITY)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Monday 24 December marks 50 years since Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders snapped an iconic image of Earth rising above the lunar surface.

The image, known as Earthrise, has been credited with sparking an environmental movement. Now, head of ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne Germany Frank De Winne shares his perspective on our planet seen from space.

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Apollo 8 Captured Earth Rise 50 Years Ago Today

Earth rise from Apollo 8. (Credit: NASA)

This week in 1968, the Apollo 8 spacecraft became the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell entered lunar orbit on Dec. 24 and held a live broadcast, showing pictures of Earth and the Moon as seen from the spacecraft and reading from the book of Genesis.

The mission became famous for capturing this iconic “Earthrise” photograph, snapped by Anders as the spacecraft was in the process of rotating. The photo shows Earth rising over the horizon of the Moon and is thought to have sparked the environmental movement. The Apollo 8 mission concluded when the crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27.

Now through December 2022, NASA will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed a dozen astronauts on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972, and the first U.S. crewed mission — Apollo 8 — that circumnavigated the Moon in December 1968.

The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating, and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage. (NASA)

See Earthrise in 4K

Video Caption: In December of 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first people to leave our home planet and travel to another body in space. But as crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders all later recalled, the most important thing they discovered was Earth.

Using photo mosaics and elevation data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), this video commemorates Apollo 8’s historic flight by recreating the moment when the crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the Moon. Narrator Andrew Chaikin, author of “A Man on the Moon,” sets the scene for a three-minute visualization of the view from both inside and outside the spacecraft accompanied by the onboard audio of the astronauts.

Apollo 8 Crew Captured Iconic Earthrise Image

This computer-generated visualization depicts the Apollo 8 spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, with Earth rising over the horizon. (Credits: NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The year 1968 was one of the most turbulent in history. War was raging in Vietnam, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy were assassinated and the Cold War included the race to the Moon.

But at Christmastime a half-century ago, millions around the world paused to follow the flight of Apollo 8. For the first time, humans left Earth for a distant destination.

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A Bold Step: Apollo 8 Sends First Human Flight Beyond Earth

Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders looked back after leaving Earth orbit for the Moon. This view extends the northern hemisphere to the southern tip of South America. Nearly all of South America is covered by clouds. (Credits: NASA)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

“Apollo 8. You are Go for TLI.”

With these cryptic words spoken on Dec. 21, 1968, NASA’s Mission Control gave the crew of Apollo 8 approval for TLI — trans-lunar injection — permission to become the first humans to leave Earth orbit. Their destination, 234,000 miles away, was the Moon.

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Remarks by Vice President Pence at Kennedy Space Center

Mike Pence

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Yeah, great words. Great words. Well, thank you, Secretary Wilson. Thank you for that introduction and thank you for your great leadership of the United States Air Force.

And I want to thank our host today, the Kennedy Space Center, Bob Cabana, and the entire team. To General Selva, who joins us here today; to all of our distinguished guests; to General Shess; but especially to the airmen of the 45th Space Wing and your families, it is great to be here at the Kennedy Space Center, the “World’s Premier Gateway to Space.” Thank you all.

And I want to bring greetings this morning, first and foremost, to a great champion of American leadership in space and a great champion of America’s military personnel and your families. I want to bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.

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