Wednesday, May 07, 2014


As a boy growing up in the 60’s I was transfixed by the space program. On the mornings of launches I remember sitting in front of the TV for hours staring at the distant launch pad while the countdown ticked down and Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley filled the time with various reports and updates. I would read the few articles and picture books available to me back then.

Like most Americans, after the first moon landing by Apollo 11 in July 1969 my interest waned. After a while the launch of the space shuttle was only broadcast on CNN. Space flight became just one of numerous news stories of the day. I remember being at work at Sepco the day the Challenger exploded on liftoff. Later in the day I met Michael Lee at Bennigans near Lenox and we went to the Hawks game. Years later Will and I were at the Buckhead McDonalds on Saturday morning February 1, 2003, headed downtown for the NBA All-Star rookie/sophomore game when radio personality Mike Bell told us about the Columbia reentry disaster.   

Reading The Astronaut Wives, the book about the wives of the Mercury astronauts, has rekindled those times. Now so many years later the numerous spaceflights run together, so compiling a list of all the flights, dates, and astronauts helps me remember better. Below are all the missions flown by the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules (plus the space shuttle flight when Mercury astronaut John Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space). Any listing of the 140 Space Shuttle missions flown between 1977 and 2011 would have to be posted separately. I did add info on the six shuttles.
Before the first manned spaceflight there were 17 unmanned test flights between August 1959 and April 1961, including seven with the Mercury capsule and three with primate passengers. Five tests failed and a sixth was aborted.
Mercury Dec 59 Little Joe 2 rhesus macaque Sam
Mercury Jan 60 Little Joe 1B rhesus macaque Miss Sam
Mercury Jan 61 Redstone 2 chimpanzee Ham
Mercury May 61 Freedom 7 Alan Shepard   
Mercury July 61 Liberty Bell 7 Gus Grissom  
Mercury Feb 62 Friendship 7 John Glenn  
Mercury May 62 Aurora 7 Scott Carpenter  
Mercury Oct 62 Sigma 7 Wally Schirra  
Mercury May 63 Faith 7 Gordo Cooper  
Gemini 1 April 64 unmanned
Gemini 2 Jan 65 unmanned
Gemini 3 March 65 Gus Grissom, John Young
Gemini 4 June 65 James McDivitt, Ed White
Gemini 5 Aug 65 Gordo Cooper, Pete Conrad
Gemini 7 Dec 65 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell
Gemini 6 Dec 65 Wally Schirra, Thomas Stafford
Apollo 2 Feb 66 unmanned
Gemini 8 March 66 Neil Armstrong, David Scott
Gemini 9 June 66 Thomas Stafford, Gene Cernan
Gemini 10 July 66 John Young, Michael Collins
Apollo 3 Aug 66 unmanned
Gemini 11 Sept 66 Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon
Gemini 12 Nov 66 Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin
Apollo 1 Jan 67 Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee
Apollo 4 Nov 67 unmanned
Apollo 5 Jan 68 unmanned
Apollo 6 April 68 unmanned
Apollo 7 Oct 68 Wally Schirra, Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele
Apollo 8 Dec 68 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders
Apollo 9 March 69 Jim McDivitt, David Scott, Russ Schweickart
Apollo 10 May 69 Tom Stafford, John Young, Gene Cernan
Apollo 11 July 69 Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins
Apollo 12 Nov 69 Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon, Alan Bean
Apollo 13 April 70 Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, Fred Haise
Apollo 14 Jan-Feb 71 Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, Ed Mitchell
Apollo 15 July-Aug 71 David Scott, Alfred Worden, Jim Irwin
Apollo 16 April 72 John Young, Ken Mattingly, Charles Duke
Apollo 17 Dec 72 Gene Cernan, Ron Evans, Harrison Schmidt

Skylab 1 May 73 unmanned
Skylab 2/Apollo May 73 Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz, Joe Kerwin
Skylab 3/Apollo July 73 Alan Bean, Jack Lousma, Owen Garriott
Skylab 4/Apollo Nov 73 Gerald Carr, William Pogue, Ed Gibson
Apollo/Soyuz July 75 Tom Stafford, Vance Brand, Deke Slayton
STS 95 Discovery/Spacelab Oct 98 John Glenn
Space Shuttles
Enterprise 8/77–10/77 5 test flights, now on carrier Intrepid in NYC
Columbia 4/81–1/03 28 flights, lost on reentry
Challenger 4/83–1/86 10 flights, lost on takeoff
Discovery 8/84–2/11 39 flights, now in Smithsonian at Dulles Airport
Atlantis 10/85–7/11 33 flights, now at Kennedy Space Center
Endeavour 5/92–5/11 25 flights, now at LA’s California Science Center

I liked Gravity better than I thought I would. Had you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. Before we had kids Ceil and I spend a long weekend at Lake Guntersville, and toured the Huntsville Space Center then. Toured Kennedy Space Center a few years ago on one of Will’s Living Science trips. Perhaps I will watch that movie “The Right Stuff” again. Also need to watch Mr. Banks and Walter Mitty.

Monday night Ceil met with ladies from Johnson Ferry to read the Bible through in 90 days. Big crowd, at the home of some people we know. Heather Swilley was supposed to be there, but wasn’t. Ceil cooked chicken enchiladas. Anna and I watched 24…pretty good.

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