Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Soyuz T-10-1 explodes on launch pad, but crew survived 1983

Soyuz T-10-1, a mission scheduled to visit Salyut 7, the space station occupied by the Soyuz T-9 crew, exploded on the launch pad, September 26, 1983.  Miraculously, cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov survived via the launch escape system. 

While waiting for fueling of the booster to finish, a bad valve allowed pressurized nitrogen gas into a pump with no propellant.  The pump ruptured and started a fire which consumed the base of the launch vehicle.  The crew, realizing something was very wrong, could not initiate the escape system.  The launch control team could activate it but the control cables were already destroyed by the fire. 

The LES was activated by two launch personnel, but the procedure required them to press two buttons within 5 seconds of each other after receiving authorization.  It took 20 seconds to perform the operation and the booster and pad were in flames by that time.  The orbital module was separated from the lower part of the rocket by explosive bolts and then the escape system motor fired, breaking the crew free from the booster, which exploded just after. 

The cosmonauts landed badly bruised from the sudden acceleration but alive and well, four miles away.  They asked recovery crews for cigarettes to calm their nerves and were given shots of vodka to help them relax.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Sylvia Rivera, gay, trans, homeless, activist

This is the reason why I love doing this type of research.  I get to learn so much more about our past ("our" meaning "U.S.A." of course) and the colorful history that has gone into creating it.  Not all of it is beautiful and it seems that more times than not it is the hardship of stark reality.

Sylvia Rivera's story takes from both aspects.  She was born Ray Rivera in New York City of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent.  Both parents died while she was very young and grew up with a grandmother in New York City.

Because she was gay and transgendered, had lived on the streets, battled addiction and often went hungry, Sylvia made these issues her personal crusades. She and her good friend Marsha P. Johnson founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries which advocated for homeless drag queens and runaways.

I can't list all of her accomplishments and chronicle her activism in a short blog so please read her incredible story here:


Shenzhou 7, first Chinese EVA, launched 2008

Shenzhou 7, launched September 25, 2008, was the first mission of the Chinese Space Program to include an EVA.  Just 5 years previous, China successfully sent a man into space aboard their Shenzhou 5, Yang Liwei, in October 2003, making them the third country to enter the space race.

Shenzhou 7 launched with three crew, Commander Zhai Zhigang, Orbital Module Astronaut Liu Boming, and Descent module monitor astronaut Jing Haipeng.

On September 27,  Zhai Zhigang slipped out of the orbital module and into space.  A few minutes later Liu Boming joined him.  Their total space walk lasted about 20 minutes.

The crew returned to Earth landing safely in Inner Mongolia, September 28.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Dr. Antonia Novello, first Hispanic female U.S. Surgeon General

Dr. Antonia Novello, born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, is the first Hispanic to become the U.S. Surgeon General and also the first woman to hold the post.  She served from 1990-1993, under both Shrub and President Bill Clinton.  She attended the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras and the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan where she received her Doctor of Medicine in 1970.

She opened  a pediatric practice in Springfield, VA in 1976 but joined the Public Health Service in 1979.  She was a project officer at the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases at NIH.  She was appointed to Assistant Surgeon General in 1986 and served as Coordinator for AIDS Research and developed an interest in pediatric AIDS.  Dr. Novello was appointed Surgeon General on March 9, 1990.  She focused her attention on the health of women, children and minorities as well as underage drinking, smoking, and AIDS.

She finished her post of Surgeon General on June 30, 1993.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Carlos Noriega, first Peruvian astronaut

Carlos Noriega is the first Peruvian-born astronaut in space, flying on the Space Shuttle twice and performing 3 EVAs. Born in Lima, Peru, he graduated high school in Santa Clara, California and entered the U.S. Marine Corps, eventually achieving rank of lieutenant colonel.

He was selected by NASA in 1994 and his first mission in space was aboard Atlantis (STS-84) to Mir in May 1997.

Noriega's second mission was on Endeavour (STS-97) in December 2000, dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Paco Balderrama, first Hispanic Major in OKC PD

Paco Balderrama made history in Oklahoma City Police Department, June 27, 2017 when he was promoted to Major, making him the highest ranking Hispanic in the 130-year history of the department.

He started the OKC PD eighteen years ago with his twin brother Beto.  During his tenure, he has been patrol officer, field training office and DARE Instructor.  He's been a supervisor as lieutenant over the Bricktown Bike Patrol, the Truancy Unit and the FACT Gang Prevention Program.

“The power of visualizing your dreams is very, very important,” said Paco. “I think young Hispanic kids can look at people who are doing well in the community and in city government and it gives them that idea, hey, I can do it, too.”

First tortoises in space: Zond 5 lands 1968

Launched September 14, 1968, the Soviet spacecraft Zond 5 carrying two tortoises, mealworms, wine flies, plants and a partridge in a pear tree (okay, I made that last one up), landed September 22, becoming the first time living creatures went to the moon and back safely.

Zond 5 was supposed to return to Kazakhstan but due to an error, it landed in the Indian Ocean.  It was recovered 4 days later.  The tortoises had lost about 10% of their  body weight but other than that, they were fine.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Capt. Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano, first Hispanic submarine CO

Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano is the first Hispanic submarine commanding officer who received two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and a Bronze Star for his actions against the Japanese Imperial Navy during WWII.

He was born in Puerto Rico August 5, 1913 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy 1935.  He was commissioned as an ensign to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.  After attending Submarine School at Groton, Connecticut he was assigned as Division Officer aboard the submarine USS Pickerel, which was in the Philippines and was attacked by the Japanese December 8, just 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Marion Frederic Ramirez de Arellano participated in war patrols throughout the Pacific.  In April 1944, he was named Commanding Officer of the submarine USS Balao. He led the rescue of three downed Navy pilots in the Palau region.  He engaged and sunk a Japanese cargo ship Daigo Maru January 8, 1945.

After the war, he was named CO of the Submarine base on Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  He retired from the Navy in 1961 and passed away in May 1980.

European Space Agency plans to return to the moon!

The European Space Agency is planning to return to the moon, after almost half of a century since Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the lunar surface.  That was in 1972, only 3 years after Neil Armstrong was the first.  While NASA is concentrating on sending people to Mars, the ESA is inviting service providers to form partnerships to take part in a one year study to shape the In-Situ Resource Utilization Demonstrator Mission (IRUDM).  Their goal is to embark on an endeavour that is viable, competitive and sustainable.

To submit a proposal or apply, follow this link:

First steps: returning humanity to the Moon / Human Spaceflight / Our Activities / ESA:

"The Hobbit" published 1937

J. R. R. Tolkein's classic, children's fantasy novel The Hobbit was published September 21, 1937, to critical and financial acclaim.  His publishers were so impressed by its success they requested a sequel.  Tolkein complied and wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a classic tale that is enjoyed today.  The Hobbit has never been out of print and has been adapted for stage, television, movies, radio and even video games.  It is estimated that The Hobbit might have sold up to 100 million copies since 1937.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Dr. Ellen Ochoa, first Hispanic Woman in space!

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic woman in space, a veteran of four space shuttle mission and currently Director of Johnson Space Center, the first Hispanic woman and second woman to be director.

She made history on her first space shuttle mission (STS-56) on Discovery in April 1993, when she was a mission specialist.  Her second flight was on Atlantis (STS-66) in November 1994.   Her third trip into space was on Discovery again (STS-96) in May-June 1999.  Her final voyage (STS-110) was on Atlantis in April 2002.

She is in the 2017 class to be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.  And she's a classical flautist!

Happy birthday, shuttle astronaut James Pawelczyk!

James "Jim" Pawelczyk, born September 20, 1950 in Buffalo, New York, is an astronaut who flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-90) April 1998. He is the first American astronaut of full-blooded Polish descent to fly in space.  Cosmonaut Miroslaw Hermaszewski was the first Pole in space in 1978.

Pawelczyk got a MS in physiology in 1985 and PhD in biology from the University of North Texas (Go Eagles!) in 1989.  It was his education and background why he was selected for the STS-90 mission, which conducted research on the human neurological system.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Susana Martinez, first US female Hispanic governor

Susana Martinez is the first female governor of the state of New Mexico and the first ever Hispanic female to become governor of a U.S. state.  She grew up Democrat but changed parties in 1995.  She was elected in 2011 and was re-elected in 2013.

She studied law at the University of Oklahoma where she met her husband.  Early in her gubentorial career, she was listed as one of the most popular governors in the U.S.  As of late, her popularity has slipped.

In 2013, Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 most Influential People in the world.

Janet Jackson releases "Rhythm Nation 1814" 1989

Janet Jackson released her iconic, concept studio album, Rhythm Nation 1814, September 19, 1989.  She created the album addressing social issues and explored topics such as racism, poverty and substance abuse.  She drew inspiration from various tragedies such as the Stockton playground murders in California.

Rhythm Nation 1814 encompasses different styles of music such as pop, dance, and hard rock such as Black Cat, which Janet wrote herself.  The album opens with the heavy Rhythm Nation and State of the World to set the tone for the album.  Then, an interlude:  "Got the point? Good.  Let's Dance."

She goes into Miss You Much, which is to me the most fun, and a bright spot in an otherwise dark album.

It soared to the top of the Billboard 200 and became the best selling album of 1990. It is the only album in the history of Billboard Hot 100 to have seven singles peak in the top five positions.  It is also the only album to produce number one hits on the chart in three separate calendar years.  Janet won a Grammy for the Best Music Video, Long Form.  The Recording Industry Association of America certified it six-times platinum.

Monday, September 18, 2017

"I Dream of Jeannie" premieres 1965

September 18, 1965, the first episode of I Dream of Jeannie, with The Lady In The Bottle.  It had a sort of rivalry with Bewitched, which premiered one year and a day earlier.  It made Barbara Eden a household name and she was nominated for two Golden Globes for her performances.  I Dream of Jeannie will always be a top TV show in our pop culture.  Her pink costume is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, first Cuban in space

On the 37th anniversary of his launch aboard Soyuz 38, I celebrate Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, first Cuban in space.  So, he was a cosmonaut, not an astronaut but things hadn't been too cozy between Cuba and the U.S.

He was selected to join the Intercosmos program in 1978 and trained for two and a half years with fellow Cuban Jose Lopez Falcon.

On September 18, 1980, Tamayo-Mendez and cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko launched aboard Soyuz 38 and docked with Salyut 6, where they spent a little over a week, conducting scientific experiments.  They returned to Earth September 26.

He is the first person to receive the Hero of the Republic of Cuba.  Tamayo-Mendez also received the Order of Lenin and named Hero of the Soviet Union

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy birthday, Oklahoma astronaut Tom Stafford!

Thomas "Tom" Stafford, born September 17, 1930 in Weatherford, Oklahoma, is an astronaut who has flown in two Gemini missions, Apollo 10 and an Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland before being accepted by NASA to be an astronaut September 17, 1962.

What a birthday present!

In December 1965, he piloted Gemini VI which performed the first rendezvous in space with Wally Schirra.  Less than six months later, he commanded Gemini IX with Eugene Cernan in  June 1966.

He commanded Apollo 10 in May 1969 with Eugene Cernan and John Young to the moon.  It was considered a 'dry run' for the first lunar landing.

In 1975, he commanded the Apollo spaceship with Vance Brand and Deke Slayton the first rendezvous with the Soviet Soyuz, a milestone in space history.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Raymond Telles, first Mexican-American mayor, El Paso

Raymond Telles became the first Mexican-American mayor of a major U.S. city, when he was elected in 1957 for El Paso.  He ran unopposed for a second term, then President Kennedy appointed him as Ambassador to Costa Rica.  In 1967 President Johnson appointed him as chairman of the U.S.-Mexican Border Commission.  President Nixon then appointed him chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

He passed away in 2013 at 97.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Happy birthday, shuttle astronaut Kevin Kregel!

Kevin Kregel, born September 16, 1956 in Amityville, NY, is a veteran of four shuttle flights.  Starting in the Air Force, he resigned to go to work for NASA in 1990.  His first Space Shuttle flight was aboard Discovery (STS-70) in July 1995, which deployed a NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

Kregel's second trip into space was aboard Columbia (STS-78) in December 1996, a multi-national effort with 10 countries and 5 space agencies cooperating.

He was commander of Columbia for mission STS-87 in November 1997 and spoke to President Bill Clinton over the phone on Thanksgiving Day.

His final trip was aboard Endeavour (STS-99) in February 2000.  The crew mapped more than 47 million miles of Earth's land surface.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Rita Moreno, Goddess of the Arts

I cannot even begin to chronicle all of Rita Moreno's accomplishments in a few short words, because she's pretty much done it all and been awarded for it.  She is the first actress to win a Grand Slam (or whatever they call it).  She's been awarded:

Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (West Side Story) 1962
Grammy for Best Album for Children (Electric Company) 1972
Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play (The Ritz) 1975
Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program - 1977

I saw her in The King and I, Singing in the Rain, and The Ritz (one of my favorite movies of hers),

This video clip of her accepting her Academy Award just shows why we love her so much!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month - Rodolfo Neri Vela, first Mexican astronaut

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, celebrates and recognizes the contributions made to the U.S. from Hispanic and Latino Americans.

To start,  I'm going to celebrate Rodolfo Neri Vela, the first and only Mexican in space.  Vela's only spaceflight was aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-61-B) as Payload Specialist November - December 1985.

He debuted as a voice actor in 2016 as the intercom announcer for the Institute PA system in the Latin dubbing of Finding Dory.

Mannheim Steamroller releases "Fresh Aire VI" 1986

Mannheim Steamroller released their seventh studio album, Fresh Aire VI, September 15, 1986.  Like the Alan Parsons Projects, Mannheim Steamroller based their albums on different themes or concepts.  Fresh Aire VI is based on Greek mythology.

It reached #155 on the Billboard charts, their first album to appear on the chart.

Farewell, Cassini, the little probe that could!

Just before 8am EDT today, Cassini, the spacecraft sent to study Saturn and her moons, sent her last signal.  She plunged into the Saturnian atmosphere to end a massively successful mission.  Launched October 15, 1997, she spent Cassini spent 7 years en route and arrived at Saturn in 2004.  For 13 years, she has explored the gas giant and released the Huygens probe from the ESA to land on Titan, a first for a celestial body in the outer solar system.

Cassini did flybys of Jupiter, our moon and Asteroid 2685 Masursky.  She discovered new moons Methone, Pallene, Polydeucesin, Daphnis, Anthe, Aegaeon and S/2009 S 1.  I'm sure they will find a better name for the last one.

She also performed flybys of moons Titan, Phoebe, Enceladus, Iapetus, Rhea, Hyperion and Dione.

Seventeen countries joined together in this effort.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Happy birthday, Eugene Trinh, first Vietnamese-American astronaut!


Eugene Trinh, born September 14, 1950 in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), South Vietnam, is the first Vietnamese-American in space!  Although born in South Vietnam, his ancestry is Chinese, since his great-grandfather immigrated from China in the last 1800's.  He moved with his parents to Paris, France when he was two and graduated from college in 1968.  He came to America and received degrees in Columbia University, including a PhD from Yale in 1975.

He served as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-50) in June-July 1992.  It was his only mission with NASA.

Happy birthday, John Herrington, first Chickasaw astronaut!

John Herrington, born September 14, 1958 in Wetumka, Oklahoma into the Chickasaw Nation, became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space.  He flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-113) with Peggy Whitson (first flight) November - December 2002.  It was the last shuttle mission before the Columbia disaster in 2003.

On his thirteenth day in space, he carried the flag of the Chickasaw Nation presented to him by the Chickasaw Nation's governor Bill Anoatubby.  He performed 3 EVAs while working on the International Space Station, logging almost 20 hours in space.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy birthday, Randy Jones!

Randy Jones, born September 13, 1952 in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the (original) sexy cowboy from the Village People.  He started as a fashion model prior to his singing gig, and has been pursuing acting, starring in a number of television shows and movies.

He married his longtime boyfriend Will Grega May 7, 2004 in New York City.

Soyuz MS-06 crew on board International Space Station

After a short 6-hour flight, Mark Vande Hei, Joe Acaba and Alexander Misurkin, crew of Soyuz MS-06 have arrived safely at and are on board the Internation Space Station!

"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" premieres 1969

What a great time it was to be a kid!  The first episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? aired September 13, 1969, What a Night for a Knight.  The series has spawned dozens of spin-offs and movies over the last few decades.

By far one of my favorite TV shows EVER!  I tried to watch every single one of them.  This is the type of show Saturday mornings were made for.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Soyuz MS-06 fixin' to blast off this afternoon!

Soyuz MS-06 crew: Joe Acaba, Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei

This afternoon about 5:17pm EDT, the next crew of the International Space Station will blast off aboard Soyuz MS-06 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and dock with the ISS approximately 6 hours later.  The crew consists of Lt. Col. Mark Vande Hei (Falls Church, VA; first flight), Joseph Acaba (first Puerto Rican astronaut; third flight) and cosmonaut/commander Alexander Misurkin (Yershichi, Smolensk Oblast, Russia; second flight)

They will join Randy Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryanzanski already on the ISS since July 28.  The new crew will continue experiments in biology, physical science and Earth science.

What?  No chemistry?

Just 10 days ago, Peggy Whitson, Jack Fisher and Fyodor Yurchikhin returned to Earth from the ISS, splatting down near Dzhezkagan in Kazakhstan.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy birthday, Tommy Shaw!

Tommy Shaw, born September 11, 1953 in Montgomery, Alabama, is best known as a guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Styx! He's been with the group since 1975, Crystal Ball being his first album with them.

Shaw wrote Renegade and Blue Collar Man for their Pieces of Eight album.  He performed Too Much Time on My Hands from Paradise Theatre.

Happy birthday, astronaut Robert Crippen!

Robert "Bob" Crippen, born September 11, 1937, was aboard the first ever Space Shuttle flight, STS-1, on Columbia in April 1981.  He served as commander on 3 more missions, each on Challenger.  His second mission, with Sally Ride, was STS-7 in June 1983, during which satellites for Canada and Indonesia were released.

His third mission (STS-41-C) in April 1984 involved the first satellite repair operation, capturing, fixing and then releasing the Solar Maximum Mission satellite.

His final mission (STS-41-G) in October 1984 was the first 7-man crew.  He was scheduled to command STS-62-A but that mission was cancelled after the Challenger explosion.

He has been inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, but more importantly, he was voted one of 1981's sexiest men by Playgirl magazine!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"The X-Files" premieres 1993

One of my favorite shows ever, The X-Files, premiered on Fox TV September 10, 1993.  Starring David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully and Mitch Pileggi (woof!) as Walter Skinner, the show delved into the paranormal, aliens and government conspiracies.

Bad Blood, Season 5 Episode 12, with Luke Wilson as the vampire sheriff is probably my favorite episode of the series.

Cosmonaut Yevgeny Khrunov born 1933

Yevgeni Vassilyevich Khrunov, born September 10, 1933 in the former Soviet Union, was a cosmonaut who went into space aboard Soyuz 5, January 15, 1969 and returned to Earth on Soyuz 4 January 17.

Although he was not part of the crew transfer, the Soyuz 4 - 5 docking was the first time a crew from one spacecraft had been transferred to another.  It was the only time this was done via EVA.  Apollo 9 would perform the first interior crew transfer a few months later.

Khrunov passed away in May 2000 from a heart attack.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Hall & Oates release "Private Eyes" 1981

Daryl Hall and John Oates released their tenth studio album Private Eyes, September 1, 1981.  The platinum album generated two #1 singles and went to #5 on the Billboard 200.

The second single I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) spent a week on the top of the R&B charts, which is a rare accomplishment for a couple of white guys.

Pioneer 11 encounters Saturn 1979

Launched April 6, 1973, Pioneer 11 became the first space probe to encounter Saturn on September 1, 1979.  It followed Pioneer 10 through the asteroid belt and past Jupiter, but then headed toward Saturn.  During its flyby, it discovered a new ring and almost collided with a new moon discovered the day before, Epimetheus.  After the Voyager flybys, it was discovered that Janus (already known moon) and Epimetheus occupy the same orbit and are about the same size, so it could have been either one.

On September 29, 1995, NASA announced it was closing the project after over 22 years.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book review - "Red Moon Rising" by Matthew Brzezinski

Years ago, I read James Oberg’s awesome book, Red Star in Orbit, which chronicled the Soviet Union’s space program and its competition against the United States’ newly formed NASA, up to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program.  Brzezinski’s work, Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries That Ignited the Space Age, reads as a prequel to Oberg’s but from the political side of the situation.

After WWII, the Soviet Union struggled to get back on its feet after the devastation and consumption of its resources.  However, in the United States, life could not have been better.  The economy was booming.  WWII hero Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House and the US had a large arsenal of missiles ready for military purposes if the need should arise.

The Soviet Union had only a handful.  Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary, wanted to close that gap.  He was not interested in space.  He just did not want to appear vulnerable and defenseless if the Americans were to launch missiles at them.

Sergei Korolev managed to get Khrushchev to consider putting a satellite in orbit, one that could carry warheads into space where they could be launched to anywhere on the globe with impunity.  With Khrushchev’s blessing, the Chief Designer (as Korolev is referred to in Brzezinski’s work) proceeds to accomplish what no one had done before.  Successfully put an artificial satellite in orbit around the world.

Brzezinski follows Korolev’s journey through set-backs, financial difficulties, disasters, rivalries and mounting pressure from all sides.

I found it humorous that Korolev and Khrushchev did not immediately understand the impact of what they had done.  Not until the whole world reacted with awe at Earth’s new artificial satellite.
Brzezinski did stumble in the epilogue.  He states that when the Chief Designer died in January 1966, “Russia’s moon dreams died with Sergei Pavlovich Korolev”.  As any student of history will recall, during the 1960’s, the space race between the US and the USSR rose to fever pitch and ran hot and heavy from Yuri Gagarin’s 1962 orbital flight until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969.

Despite this, the book is an important read for anyone interested in space history.

Donna Summer releases "Live and More" 1978

The Queen Donna Summer released her double album Live and More, August 31, 1978, the recording of a concert she performed at the Universal Ampitheater in Los Angeles the previous June. It was her first live album and second double album.  It went to #1 on the Billboard 200 and became double platinum in the U.S.

My man Billy Joel knocked Live and More out of the top spot with his album 52nd Street.

The album featured a studio recording, the MacArthur Park suite, which was edited and released as a single MacArthur Park. She earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

John Swigert, Apollo 13 astronaut, born 1931

John "Jack" Swigert, born August 30, 1931 in Denver, Colorado, was an astronaut on the bad-luck-ridden Apollo 13 mission, as Command Module Pilot.

The mission was his only flight.  He was slated to be in the rotation for the Apollo-Soyuz project but was removed due to his involvement in the Apollo 15 Postage Stamp Incident.

Swigert passed away in 1982 from cancer.

The Netherlands enter the Space Race 1974

August 30, 1974, the Netherlands launched their first satellite, Astronomical Netherlands Satellite or ANS (I know.  Kinda mundane).  The program was jointly funded by the Netherlands Institute for
Space Research and NASA and ran for 20 months, ending in June 1976.

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, ANS carried an X-ray detector and an ultraviolet telescope.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Happy birthday, Chris Hadfield (first Canadian EVA)!

Chris Hadfield, born August 29, 1959 in Ontario, Canada, is a veteran of 2 space shuttle missions, one Soyuz mission and is the first Canadian to walk in space.  He was admitted to the Candian Space Agency in 1992 and his first mission was aboard Atlantis (STS-74) in November 1995.  His second mission, aboard Endeavour (STS-100) in April 2001 to the International space Station, is when he performed his EVA to help install the Canadarm.

His final mission was on Soyuz TMA-07M in December 2012 to the ISS, where he spent 145 days and served as commander for the last two months, March - May 2013.

He showed us how to make  a peanut butter sandwich in outer space.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Discovery (STS-128) launched 2009

Seated (L-R):  Kevin Ford, Frederick Sturckow
Standing (L-R): Jose Hernandez, John Olivas, Nicole Stott, Christer Fuglesang, Patrick Forrester

Discovery took off August 28, 2009, the 25th anniversary of its first flight just seconds before midnight, so NASA can say it is the first (probably the only) time a launch took place over two calendar days.

Her crew consisted of Commander Frederick Sturckow, Pilot Kevin Ford, Mission specialist 1 Patrick Forrester, Mission Specialist 2 Jose Hernandez, Mission Specialist 3 John Olivas, Mission Specialist 4 Christer Fuglesang (ESA - Sweden) and Mission Specialist Nicole Stott.

It is the first time two astronauts of Mexican heritage were in space at the same time.  Olivas performed 3 EVAs, once with Stott and twice with Fuglesang.

Discovery returned to Earth September 8.

Comic Book Artist Jack Kirby born 1917

Jack Kirby, known around the world for being one of the most prolific and successful comic book artists, was born August 28, 1917 in New York City.  He learned to draw comics by tracing them from the papers and in 1940, he was hired by Timely Comics, where he co-created one of the best heroes of all times, Captain America.

In the 60's, he teamed up with Stan Lee at Atlas Comics which would become Marvel.  There he and Lee co-created...well,...just about everybody.  In the 70's Kirby went back to DC Comics where he created the Fourth World Saga and New Gods.

Kirby passed away February 6, 1994 from heart failure.

Happy birthday, Space Shuttle astronaut & UFO spotter, Leroy Chiao!

Leroy Chiao, born August 28, 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a veteran of 3three Space Shuttle flights and one Soyuz mission to the International Space Station.  He received a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1987.

His first mission was on board Columbia (STS-65) in July 1994, which carried the first Japanese woman in to space, Chiaki Mukai.

Chiao's second trip was on board Endeavour (STS-72) in January 1996 and his third was aboard Discovery in October 2000 (STS-92).  Since he was fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he studied Russian and flew to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-5, Expedition 10, in October 2004.  He remained on the ISS until April 2005.

Here is some interesting footage of him experiencing strange lights during an EVA:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Happy birthday, 6-time astronaut John Blaha!

John Elmer Blaha, born August 26, 1942 in San Antonio, made 6 trips to space aboard space shuttles and one four-month stay on Mir.

His first flight was on board Discovery (STS-29) in March 1989.  His second mission was also on Discovery (STS-33) in November 1989. His third mission (STS-43) was on Atlantis in August 1991.  The fourth was on Columbia (STS-58) in October 1993, during which they performed numerous medical experiments expanding our knowledge of human physiology in space.

His fifth flight took him to Mir on Atlantis (STS-79) in September 1996 where he would spend the next four months.  Atlantis brought Shannon Lucid home from Mir.

Blaha returned to Earth on Atlantis (STS-81) in January 1997.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Voyager 2 flies by Neptune 1989


Launched in August 1977, Voyager 2 made a flyby of the planet Neptune August 25, 1989.  It is the only spacecraft to have visited Neptune and Uranus.  During its pass, it took photographs of Triton, Neptune's largest moon and discovered Proteus, the second largest moon.

Voyager 2 is expected  to enter interstellar space in 2019 or 2020.  It is still sending weak signals and will continue to do so until about 2025.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Xanadu" soundtrack released 1980

The dorky movie Xanadu was released the same month as its soundtrack in August 1980.  The movie didn't fare well, but the soundtrack went double-platinum in both U.S and Canada.  It was a collaboration between Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton-John, released on MCA and Jet labels.

I like Olivia but I much prefer ELO's contributions to the album.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Happy birthday, Space Shuttle astronaut David Wolf!

David Wolf, born August 23, 1956, in Indianapolis, Indiana, is veteran of four space flights, one trip aboard Mir, seven EVA's and one ballot.  His first space shuttle mission was aboard Columbia (STS-58) in October 1993.  Also on that mission was Shannon "Right Stuff" Lucid, who was on her 4th trip into space.  (I wonder if she dozed off during launch?).

Wolf's second trip was on Atlantis (STS-86) in September 1997, which took him up to the space station Mir.  During his 128-day visit, he became the first American to cast a vote in a presidential election.  He returned to Earth on Endeavour (STS-89) January 1998.

His third trip was aboard Atlantis (STS-112), an eleven day mission to the International Space Station in October 2002.

His final trip (STS-127) was on Endeavor in July 2009 to the ISS.  The launch of the Endeavour was successful on its 6th attempt.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Happy birthday, Skylab 4 astronaut Gerald Carr!

Gerald Paul Carr, born August 22, 1932 in Denver, Colorado, is one of three rookie astronauts on Skylab 4, the third and last manned mission to the space station.  He was one of the original 19 astronauts chosen by NASA in 1966.  For over 4 years, Carr and his fellow Skylab 4 astronauts held the record for the longest stay in space, 184 days.

During the mission, the Skylab astronauts got worn out from their hectic work schedule and finally ceased radio transmissions to and from Mission Control for a day.  NASA was furious, of course, but it did lead to some revising of work schedules and the astronauts ended up completing more work that originally planned.

Carr was on the rotation for Apollo 19 but the mission was cancelled in 1970.

Mannheim Steamroller releases "Fresh Aire 8" 2000

Mannheim Steamroller released Fresh Aire 8, the final album in their Fresh Aire series, August 22, 2000.  Chip Davis composed all the songs, which are based on the topic of infinity.

Here is the video for "Leonardo (The Infinite Thinker)":

Monday, August 21, 2017

Marie Blake, actress, born 1895

Marie Blake, born August 21, 1895, in Philadelphia, is probably best known for her role as Grandmama in the Addams Family.  She appeared in bit parts on television from her beginning in 1935 until her retirement in 1966.

She passed away January 14, 1978 in Los Angeles.

It wasn't easy finding clips with Ms. Blake (credited as Blossom Rock on the Addams Family) but I found one that includes the classic Don Rickles.