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A Chronological Presentation: Space Station 1.0
06 March 2017 David S. F. Portree

Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide, a member the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 32 crew, captures a self-portrait during a 5 September 2012 spacewalk. Reflected in his faceplate are U.S., Japanese, and European components of the ISS silhouetted against the Earth and, above his reflected right hand, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. The brilliant Sun glaring past Hoshide's shoulder and the camera artifacts it creates make an already fascinating image particularly striking. Image credit: NASA

My blog is only accidentally chronological in arrangement; because of this, occasionally I feel the need to compile a chronological listing of posts on a given topic as an aid to reader understanding. This is one of those times, and the topic this time around is space stations. Enjoy!

One-Man Space Station (August 1960)

Space Station Gemini (December 1962)

Space Station Resupply: The 1963 Plan to Turn the Apollo Spacecraft Into a Space Freighter (November 1963)

"Assuming That Everything Goes Perfectly Well in the Apollo Program. . ." (January 1967)

"A True Gateway": Robert Gilruth's June 1968 Space Station Presentation

McDonnell Douglas Phase B Space Station (June 1970)

From Monolithic to Modular: NASA Establishes a Baseline Configuration for a Shuttle-Launched Space Station (July 1970)

An Alternate Station/Shuttle Evolution: Spirit of '76 (August 1970?)

A Bridge from Skylab to Station/Shuttle: Interim Space Station Program (April 1971)

Skylab-Salyut Space Laboratory (June 1972)

What If a Crew Became Stranded On Board the Skylab Space Station? (October 1972)

Reviving and Reusing Skylab in the Space Shuttle Era: NASA Marshall's November 1977 Pitch to NASA Headquarters

Evolution vs. Revolution: The 1970s Struggle for NASA's Future (1978)

Bridging the Gap Between Space Station and Mars: The IMUSE Strategy (July 1985)

Naming the Space Station (1988)

The 1991 Plan to Turn Space Shuttle Columbia Into a Low-Cost Space Station (July-September 1991)

NASA's 1992 Plan to Land Soyuz Lifeboats in Australia (November 1992)

More Information

A Chronological Presentation: The Apollo-Shuttle Transition 1.0

Source: A Chronological Presentation: Space Station 1.0
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A Chronological Presentation: Failure Was an Option 1.0
28 January 2018 David S. F. Portree

Image credit: NASA

Periodically, I write a post in which I list in chronological order links to posts in this blog which I originally presented in no particular order. This post brings together posts with the label "Failure Was An Option," and is offered as a memorial to the 17 persons who have died on board U.S. spacecraft.

The end of January and beginning of February is a time of remembrance for NASA piloted spaceflight. On 27 January 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in the Apollo 1 fire. On 28 January 1986, the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-51L (Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Ron McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe) perished after the Orbiter Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launch. On 1 February 2003, the STS-107 crew (Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon) died when the Orbiter Columbia broke up during reentry after a nearly 16-day mission in Earth orbit.

Piloted spaceflight has never been routine, though sometimes, for reasons that have little to do with best practices in space engineering, it has unwisely been treated that way. Throughout the history of U.S. piloted spaceflight, however, NASA and its contractors typically have tried to anticipate possible malfunctions and, where possible, develop emergency procedures.

What If an Apollo Saturn Rocket Exploded on the Launch Pad? (1965)

What If Apollo Astronauts Could Not Ride the Saturn V Rocket? (1965)

North American Aviation's 1965 Plan to Rescue Apollo Astronauts Stranded in Lunar Orbit

What If an Apollo Lunar Module Ran Low on Fuel and Aborted Its Moon Landing? (1966)

If an Apollo Lunar Module Crashed on the Moon, Could NASA Investigate the Cause? (1967)

What If Apollo Astronauts Became Stranded in Lunar Orbit? (1968)

A CSM-Only Back-Up Plan for the Apollo 13 Mission to the Moon (1970)

What If a Crew Became Stranded On Board the Skylab Space Station? (1972)

What If a Space Shuttle Orbiter Had to Ditch? (1975)

George Landwehr von Pragenau's Quest for a Stronger, Safer Space Shuttle (1984)

What If a Shuttle Orbiter Struck a Bird? (1988)

NASA's 1992 Plan to Land Soyuz Space Station Lifeboats in Australia

Source: A Chronological Presentation: Failure Was an Option 1.0

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Chronology: Apollo-Shuttle Transition 2.0
12 March 2019 David S. F. Portree

Three years ago I published on this blog the first of my "Chronology" compilations of links to posts with a common theme. That first chronological compilation brought together links to posts on the transition from Apollo to the Space Shuttle. The aim was to impose chronology on posts that do not occur in chronological order in this blog as an aid to reader understanding.

This, my fourth "Chronology" compilation, updates that first compilation. I've added links to three posts dating from 1968, 1970, and 1972; that is, near the start, at the middle, and near the end of the planning phase of the Apollo-Shuttle transition.



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Chronology: Venus 1.0
09 June 2019 David S. F. Portree

Digital elevation model of one hemisphere of Venus based on Magellan radar mapper data. Blue and purple signify low elevations, shades of green signify intermediate elevations, and red, pink, and tan signify high elevations. The tallest mountain on Venus, Skadi Mons, is part of Maxwell Montes, the light colored "tadpole" feature near the top of the image. Image credit: NASA 

Chronology is the exoskeleton of history; without that supporting structure, events become unfathomable. Because this blog presents historical spaceflight plans and their context in random order, without the benefit of an overarching chronology, I periodically write a post which places in chronological order posts in this blog that cover a specific subject area.

This time around, the subject area is Venus. Until the early 1960s, many scientists held out hope that Venus might support life. Even before Mariner II flew past it (14 December 1962), however, scientists had begun to suspect that close examination would undermine their visions of a clement Venus. The cloudy planet soon became an object lesson in the importance of greenhouse gases in planetary atmospheres.

Among the planets, no world has received more visitors than Venus. From the 1960s until the 1980s, Venus was the main planetary exploration target of the Soviet Union; no country placed more spacecraft on the Venusian surface.

Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to fly by Venus and use it as a gravity-assist way station (5 February 1974); that is, it used the planet's gravity and orbital momentum to change its course and speed, enabling it to conduct three Mercury flybys in 1974-1975. The twin Soviet Vega spacecraft each used a Venus gravity-assist in 1985 to gain enough energy to reach Comet Halley in 1986; during their Venus flybys, they released combination lander/balloon payloads.

Venus helped to rescue the NASA robotic exploration program in the late 1980s. The U.S. space agency had intended to launch the Galileo Jupiter orbiter and probe into low-Earth orbit in May 1986 attached to a powerful Centaur G-prime upper stage in the payload pay of a Space Shuttle Orbiter. Astronauts would have released the stage and spacecraft, then the former would have ignited to boost the latter directly to Jupiter, with arrival in December 1988.

After the Challenger Space Shuttle failure (28 January 1986), however, Centaur G-prime, which burned liquid hydrogen fuel with liquid oxygen oxidizer, was judged to be too volatile to carry on board a piloted spacecraft. In its place, NASA opted for a solid-propellant upper stage and a complex Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist (VEEGA) trajectory. Following launch on board the Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis (18 October 1989), a Venus flyby (10 February 1990) put Galileo on course for Earth gravity-assist flybys in December 1990 and December 1992 with arrival at Jupiter in December 1995.

Galileo had been expected to be the first U.S. planetary spacecraft launched since Pioneer Venus Multiprobe (PVM) left Earth in August 1978; its new reliance on the VEEGA trajectory meant, however, that NASA had to shuffle its planetary mission schedule. Because Galileo needed to use the October 1989 launch window for a direct flight to Venus, the Magellan Venus radar mapper lifted off on board Atlantis (4 May 1989), orbited the Sun one-and-a-half times, and entered Venus polar orbit (10 August 1990). Missions to Venus thus bracketed a nearly 11-year drought in U.S. planetary mission launches.

In recent years, we have seen proposals for piloted Venus orbiter and atmosphere missions. These mark a renewal of interest that began in the 1950s and continued through the 1960s. Had those early plans gone ahead, NASA might have launched astronauts on Venus flyby and orbiter missions in the 1970s and early 1980s. Recent proposals and 1960s proposals have in common reliance on robots to explore the harsh Venusian surface; no humans would land there.

Venus is mentioned with (perhaps surprising) frequency throughout this blog. What follows is a chronological list of links to posts with a significant Venus exploration component.

Centaurs, Soviets, and Seltzer Seas: Mariner 2's Venusian Adventure (1962)

EMPIRE Building: Ford Aeronutronic's 1962 Plan for Piloted Mars/Venus Flybys

After EMPIRE: Using Apollo Technology to Explore Mars and Venus (1965)

Venus as Proving Ground: A 1967 Proposal for a Piloted Venus Orbiter

Triple-Flyby: Venus-Mars-Venus Piloted Missions in the Late 1970s/Early 1980s (1967)

Apollo Ends at Venus: A 1967 Proposal for Single-Launch Piloted Venus Flybys in 1972, 1973, and 1975

Floaters, Armored Landers, Radar Orbiters, and Drop Sondes: Automated Probes for Piloted Venus Flybys (1967-1968)

Things to Do During a Venus-Mars-Venus Piloted Flyby Mission (1968)

Two for the Price of One: 1980s Piloted Missions with Stopovers at Mars and Venus (1969)

After Venus: Pioneer Mars Orbiter with Penetrators (1974)