Whatever Happened to the Mercury Seven?

Although the first astronaut class was not formally introduced to the public until April 9th 1959, the Mercury programme started in 1958: sixty years ago. Many people are familiar with the Mercury astronauts through The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolffe's wonderful book, although that film concentrated principally on just three members of the group: Alan [...]

The Sunspot Cycle and its Possible Effects on Future Manned Spaceflight

We have known for more than a century that solar activity shows a pronounced cyclic variation with an 11-year period. About every 11 years there is a maximum in activity and sunspots become very prominent and very common. Back in my younger days, I was a keen solar observer during one particular holiday around the [...]

How many Apollo astronauts are still alive?

One of the greatest features of a Herschel mission lunch in the canteen – although most of the Herschel veterans around the table have now moved on to other missions – is the remarkable conversations. A topic comes up and a bunch of scientists and engineers start ruminating on it. These days the topic is [...]