W(h)ither Artemis?

It is a while since I wrote something and, in the intervening time, important changes have happened. One of NASA’s biggest nightmares over the decades has been lack of continuity: one President, or party starts a programme, and the next cancels it. Again, we are going through a regime change in the United States. At [...]

How many Apollo launches were there?

This is a posting that is unashamedly for Apollo nerds. If you are over sixty years old, you probably remember Apollo and lived the Moon landings, at least the first one, as I did. People of my generation are bathing in a stream of glittering memories as we pass the fiftieth anniversary of one epic [...]

Apollo 12: the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Lunar Landing – a story of serial bad luck, a serious mistake and unexplained saliva

Who remembers Apollo 12? It should have been the flight that gave the American public a television spectacular that knocked spots off the short Apollo 11 moonwalk. The first moon landing was basically a PR exercise: the moonwalk was the shortest possible and science was almost an afterthought. The Apollo 11 landing was to give [...]

The Great First Step Mystery

It is now almost exactly one month until the fiftieth anniversary of that “One Small Step”. It is a couple of months since I have posted anything here about it. Life has been rather busy. However, the events of fifty years ago are ever present. Over the last few months we have seen the fiftieth [...]

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 [...]

Where is Starman Heading: Will it be observable to future Martian astronauts?

JPL has produced a further update for the orbit of the Tesla, although the rate of arrival of new observations has slowed. With the Tesla now below magnitude 20 and, with the Moon close to full, it is unlikely that there will be a new orbit update for at least another week or ten days. [...]

How many Apollo astronauts are still alive?

April 28th 2021: Updated on the death of Michael Collins. March 19th 2020: Updated when news of the death of Apollo 12 and Skylab 2 commander, Al Bean became widely known, although it had been announced a few days previously. With the death of Al Bean, just four Moon-walkers survive, the youngest of them, 83 [...]