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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Borman & Lovell Celebrate 90th Birthdays

Apollo 8 crew members William Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on the carrier after their mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Parabolic Arc would like to extend belated birthday wishes to Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, who both celebrated their 90th birthdays this month. Lovell’s birthday was Sunday, and Borman celebrated his latest trip around the sun on March 14.

The two nonagenarians, who were crew mates on Gemini 7 and Apollo 8, are the oldest of the surviving Apollo astronauts. The rest of their compatriots are all in the 80’s.

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Explorers Club to Honor Lovell, Bezos at Annual Dinner

Jeff Bezos

NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2018 (Explorers Club PR) — What is fueling the next generation of exploration? Is it insatiable curiosity, new technologies, enduring spirit, or an extraordinary and exciting combination of all three?

These are some of the challenges that will face more than 1,000 of the world’s foremost explorers and guests at the 114th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square New York, on Saturday March 10, 2018.
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Update on Blue Origin New Shepard Flight

New Shepard booster fires its engine just over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is being held in Colorado through Wednesday. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks are there tweeting away:

  • Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
  • Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
  • Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News

Below is an update on Blue Origin’s New Shepard program based on their tweets.

Jeff Ashby
Chief of Mission Assurance
Blue Origin

  • Flawless New Shepard flight test last week
  • First commercial flight under a launch license issued by FAA — allows Blue Origin to collect revenues (unlike previous experimental permit)
  • New vehicle incorporates lessons learned from earlier flight test program that finished in October 2016
  • Roughly one year away from New Shepard human flight tests, 18-24 months from flights with human-tended payloads
  • Waiting until the commercial service version of the system is flying to sell tickets for New Shepard flights
  • Capsule has full environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) and triple redundancy as well as pusher escape system
  • New Shepard flights will have about three minutes of microgravity
  • 5 G’s peak experienced during reentry
  • Proprietary landing system provides a soft landing for capsule and its occupants and experiments
  • One day of training required that will include mission simulation and emergency egress instruction
  • Centrifuge training at NASTAR will not required for New Shepard flights
  • Flight will be conducted early in morning due to calmer winds at that time
  • Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Al Worden have expressed interest in flying
  • System designed to be rapidly reusable
  • Takes about two weeks to turn around New Shepard for relaunch
  • Goal is to reduce turnaround to one week with 20 operational personnel
  • Blue Origin landed a booster from space first (before SpaceX)
  • Watching a rocket land is even cooler than watching them launch
  • Shift from “used” rockets to “flight proven” has been a good thing
  • New Glenn orbital rocket will have 7-meter payload to accommodate larger payloads

We’re Losing Our Apollo Astronauts

Astronaut Richard “Dick” Gordon with Charles “Pete” Conrad before their Gemini 10 mission. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Richard “Dick” Gordon, who died on Monday at the age of 88, was the third Apollo-era astronaut to pass away this year and the second who was involved in a lunar mission.

Gordon was command module pilot for Apollo 12, which saw Pete Conrad and Alan Bean walk on the moon in November 1969. Gordon stayed in orbit aboard aboard the command service module Yankee Clipper while his colleagues explored the lunar surface. It was the second and final spaceflight for Gordon, who flew aboard Gemini 10 with Conrad three years earlier.

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Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell Joins Golden Spike’s Advisory Board

golden_spike_logBOULDER, CO, May 15, 2013 (Golden Spike PR) – Golden Spike, the first company planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries and corporations around the world, announced today that legendary astronaut and Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell has joined its Board of Advisors.

Capt. Lovell, a former Naval aviator and test pilot, is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lovell is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, was the first of only three people to fly to the Moon twice, and was the first person to fly in space four times.

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Lovell and Kranz on Obama Space: Meh!

United Launch Alliance's configurations for launch commercial crew vehicles on Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Spacing out – Ex-NASA officials: Agency plans off-track
Armarillo Globe-News

The country’s political leaders have lost the direction of the space program.

Jim Lovell made that comment before he and Gene Kranz were slated to deliver the keynote address for West Texas A&M University’s centennial convocation Friday night. Also before the convocation, both men spoke to science and engineering students at WT…

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Neil Armstrong: Way Better Than Pete Conrad

The crew of Apollo 11
The crew of Apollo 11

Our latest poll is complete, and it seems like you Parabolic Archers have decided that Neil Armstrong is your favorite Apollo astronaut. Neil was far ahead of Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell:

Neil Armstrong – Apollo 11 (51.0%, 44 Votes)
Jim Lovell – Apollo 13 (28.0%, 24 Votes)
Pete Conrad – Apollo 12 (11.0%, 10 Votes)
Steve Austin – Apollo 19 (10.0%, 9 Votes)

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Lovell: Bail Out NASA, Not Those Wall Street Weasels

CSE PRESS RELEASE

The Coalition for Space Exploration, the leading collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, announced today the release of a statement by James Lovell, who served as part of the crew of Apollo 8 – the first human voyage to a celestial body in December 1968. Apollo 8’s successful mission to orbit the Moon paved the way for Apollo 11 to realize U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the close of the 1960s.

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