Skylab and Miss Universe: An Unlikely Pairing

Skylab's recovered oxygen tank with Miss United States and Miss Australia. Credit: National Archives of Australia (NAA: A6135, K19/7/79/2)

Skylab’s recovered oxygen tank with Miss United States and Miss Australia. Credit: National Archives of Australia (NAA: A6135, K19/7/79/2)

On stage at the Perth Entertainment Centre, among the glitz and glamour of the 1979 Miss Universe pageant, was the charred remains of Skylab, NASA’s first space station. It might seem like an odd juxtaposition to place a foreign hunk of metal in the same venue as international beauty queens, but the host nation had as much a feeling of ownership over the remains of Skylab as did the United States. Four days earlier, the station had fallen from orbit and broken up as it reentered the atmosphere over Western Australia.  [Read more…]

NASA’s Manned Venus Orbital Mission

Venus seen from orbit. Photo credit: NASA/STS-30 Crew

In the late 1960s, NASA was considering future applications for its Apollo hardware under the aptly named Apollo Applications program. One popular target for an AAP mission was Venus, our cosmic neighbour that was a scientific enigma at the time; admittedly our knowledge of Venus still isn’t complete. The space agency briefly looked at a plan that would see a crew of astronauts sent into orbit around Venus.  [Read more…]

NASA’s Manned Mission to Venus

In the mid-1960s, NASA was already looking ahead to what it would do after the Apollo program. Where could the organization send astronauts after the moon that would make use of everything it had learned getting them to our satellite? What emerged was the Apollo Applications Program (AAP), a program designed to give the technologies generated from Apollo direction towards long term objectives in space. AAP goals were varied. They ranged from Earth orbital research, an extended and more permanent lunar exploration program, and manned planetary missions. Within this latter category, Mars was on the table but wasn’t the only target. In 1967, NASA looked at what it would take to send men to Venus (pictured).

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What to Do After the Moon?

In previous posts I’ve mentioned, albeit in passing, the Apollo Applications Program (AAP) – it was one of the possible applications of the Rogallo paraglider wing after the system was cancelled from the Gemini program in 1964. AAP was the follow-up program to Apollo, the program that would reemphasize science over technology in spaceflight. The program intended to solidify man’s presence in space, expand his understanding of the solar system and the cosmos, and exploit space to satisfy our needs on Earth. This post gives only a cursory overview of the short-lived Apollo Applications Program, but it promises to be the first of many. Over time, I hope to put together a comprehensive picture of the program. (Pictured: Skylab. 1974.) [Read more…]