The Apollo Semicentennial

Fifty years ago, the Apollo project sent 27 astronauts to the Moon. I was a child and followed their live broadcasts on TV together with my father, an aerospace engineer in the then-nascent European space program. The Lunar exploration lasted for four years and eleven launches, after which the United States retrenched to a more modest space program. Hopefully, I will see astronauts on the Moon again some day, perhaps in the company of curious and eager grandchildren.

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Lego: Women of NASA

One of my hobbies is Lego. This weekend I assembled the new box Women of NASA. From left to right (click on the picture for larger version):

Margaret Hamilton, head of software engineering during the Apollo moon missions

Astronauts Dr Mae Jemison and Sally Ride

Dr Nancy Roman, chief astronomer at NASA and in charge of the development of the Hubble Telescope.

The Solar System as It Used to Be

Martian Canal,
by C Bonestell

One of my favorite subgenres in science fiction is old-school interplanetary adventures, in which Mars has canals, Venus jungles, and Mercury two faces (hot and cold). Lo! and behold, yesterday I discovered a blog devoted to that subject: The Old Solar System. Its creator is the British pseudonym Zendexor, who introduces himself as an SF critic. Well, he certainly masters the subject, discussing the oldschool settings created by veterans writers like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Brackett, SM Stirling, and Edmond Hamilton.

If Zendexor knew Swedish, he would probably have written a lengthy post about Sture Lönnerstrand’s solar-system odyssey Rymdhunden (“Space Dog”) from 1954.

Check the Old Solar System blog here — link >>>

XKCD: Rocky Bodies in 2 Dimensions

The eminent site XKCD has published this picture that compares the surface areas of notable rocky celestial bodies in our solar system. The four giant planets are excluded because they lack mappable surfaces. The arrangement would be laid out nicely on the type of Ringworld that Larry Niven proposed in some of his stories — link >>>

Old-school Moon Exploration

MoonExploration

Lunar exploration in the old-school heroic way: Fred Freeman made this piece of artwork for First Men to the Moon, a realistic moon-flight novel by rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, published in 1960. I read the book in a Swedish translation in 1966 or 1967, but I only retain three fragmentary memories of its two astronauts’ troubled voyage to the Moon and back.

Space That Never Was

Space That Never Was is an art project by illustrator Mac Rebisz. The goal is to make technologically accurate depictions of space missions that could have been executed if the US/Soviet space race had continued for another decade at the hectic pace of the late 1960s, with manned expeditions to Mars and beyond.

The Soviet moon landing depicted above (click on the picture for a larger version) was on the way around 1970 and the one-man lander would have looked like that. However, the endeavor foundered because of insoluble problems with its huge N-1 rocket.

Read more about Mac’s project and view his “space history” paintings here — link >>>