Frank Borman only flew to space twice, but both flights were major milestones in the history of human spaceflight. In 1965, he and Jim Lovell flew for nearly 14 days aboard Gemini 7, proving that humans could function for long periods of time in the absence of gravity. Borman, Lovell and Bill Anders orbited the moon on Christmas Eve 1968 aboard Apollo 8 on the first human mission beyond low Earth orbit, an essential step toward the landing of Apollo 11 eight months later.
There was lesser known, but no less vital, mission that Borman undertook that was every bit as essential to the success of Project Apollo. The anniversary of a key event in that mission was earlier this month. Borman, who turned 94 last month, recounted the story in his autobiography, “Countdown.”
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
On the last Friday in January 1967, Frank Borman took a break from a punishing schedule of traveling from Houston to Project Apollo contractors in Massachusetts and California to spend some quality time with his family. He took his wife, Susan, and their two sons to a cottage on a lake near Huntsville, Texas, owned by family friends. In the era cell phones, there were only landlines. Since the phone number at the cottage was unlisted, Borman was looking forward to two uninterrupted of relaxation.
For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Former astronaut Gerald Carr, who commanded the last Skylab mission, passed away Aug. 26, 2020 in Albany, NY.
“NASA and the nation have lost a pioneer of long duration spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of astronaut Gerald ‘Jerry’ Carr, whose work provided a deeper understanding of life on Earth and in space.”
As commander of the Skylab 4 mission, Carr and his all-rookie crew conducted a remarkable science program that included a wealth of biomedical investigations designed to test the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body, Earth observations associated with the Earth Resources Experiment Package (EREP), and solar observations from instruments mounted on the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) revolutionized our understanding of the Sun.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Former astronaut and long-duration spaceflight pioneer Owen Garriott, 88, died today, April 15, at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. Garriott flew aboard the Skylab space station during the Skylab 3 mission and on the Space Shuttle Columbia for the STS-9/Spacelab-1 mission. He spent a total of 70 days in space.
“The astronauts, scientists and engineers at Johnson Space Center are saddened by the loss of Owen Garriott,” said Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester. “We remember the history he made during the Skylab and space shuttle programs that helped shape the space program we have today. Not only was he a bright scientist and astronaut, he and his crewmates set the stage for international cooperation in human spaceflight. He also was the first to participate in amateur radio from space, a hobby many of our astronauts still enjoy today.”
As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of manned Apollo flights leading to the first moon landing in July 1969, the number of astronauts from the program is slowly dwindling away.
Of the 29 men who flew in the Apollo lunar program, 15 are still alive while 14 others have passed away. When the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs are included, there are 21 Apollo-era astronauts still with us while 17 have died.
Astronaut Alan Bean has passed away at the age of 86. Bean walked on the moon and commanded a Skylab crew before becoming an accomplished painter.
Below is a NASA biography of him.
Alan Bean walked on the moon on Apollo 12, commanded the second Skylab crew and then resigned after 18 years as an astronaut to paint the remarkable worlds and sights he had seen.
Bean was lunar module pilot on the November 1969 Apollo 12 mission, the second moon landing. He and mission commander Pete Conrad explored on the lunar Ocean of Storms and set up several experiments powered by a small nuclear generator.
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.
I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.
I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….
So, have at it! Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!
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.
Skylab and space shuttle astronaut Paul J. Weitz has passed away from cancer. He was 85.
Weitz, who served in the United States Navy and retired as a captain in 1976, was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. His NASA career lasted 28 years and included two space flights.
Weitz was part of the first Skylab crew along with commander Pete Conrad and science-pilot Joe Kerwin in 1973. The crew saved the station, which suffered damage after a solar wing deployed during launch. The wing was ripped away along with a heat shield; the other solar wing was pinned to the station by debris.
The crew deployed a solar shade to bring down temperatures inside the laboratory and freed the remaining solar wing during a space walk. Weitz and his crew mates splashed down on June 22, 1973 after a record 28 days in space.
Weitz commanded STS-6, the first flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched on April 4, 1983, and landed on April 9. The mission’s primary payload was the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, a new NASA satellite that would revolutionize low-Earth orbit communications forever.
Mr. Weitz also served as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. He retired from NASA in 1994.
March is a particularly busy month for birthdays of Apollo astronauts. Nine of the 38 men who flew Apollo spacecraft in Earth orbit, to the moon and to the Skylab space station have birthdays this month.