Alan Shepard gears up for his flight as the first American in space. May 5, 1961.
This photo from the holdings of the Eisenhower Library shows astronaut Shepard preparing for his record setting flight as the first American man in space.
-from the Jacqueline Cochran Papers, Federation Aeronautique International Series. National Archives ID #7065300
This post was originally a Doc of the Week from the Eisenhower Library
Space Food, Brownies, Apollo 11
Tomorrow is Space Day at the National Air and Space Museum! The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be there hosting a Mission Checklist hunt.
If you are in Washington D.C., come by to accept your mission and search for Apollo items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum.
Among your necessities: compressed brownies sealed in 4-ply laminate.
Learn more about space food from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Photo courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum.
More — Nixon and the Apollo Program
This Saturday, The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries will be at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Space Day.
We’ll be hosting activities including:
- A Mission Checklist hunt for Apollo-related items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
- A Presidential Pop Quiz on U.S. Presidents and the Space Program.
Want a head start on your Mission Checklist? These Moon Tongs were used by Apollo mission astronauts to collect lunar samples.
The tongs are from the holdings of the Nixon Presidential Library and can be seen for a limited time in the “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program” display at the National Archives in D.C.
Close-up view of a set of tongs, an Apollo Lunar Hand Tool, being used by Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., to pick up lunar samples during the Apollo XII mission, November 19, 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA.
This set of tongs was used to collect lunar samples from the “Ocean of Storms,” the largest dark spot on the Moon’s surface, during the Apollo XII mission. It was presented to President Nixon by astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean.
April 9, 1959: NASA Introduces the First Astronauts
On this day in 1959, NASA announced to the public the seven astronauts, also known as the Mercury 7, that would partake in Project Mercury, the first manned space program. The astronauts included: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton.
During this time period, the United States and the USSR were in a constant space race, where each country was aiming to explore outer space at a quicker pace than the other. Although the U.S. was restricted on time, they developed a thorough evaluation process to select their astronauts.
NASA placed its candidates under extreme pressure and temperature conditions in order to test their health, skills, and endurance. In addition, candidates were tested on how they managed psychological and physical stress.
Love their suits? Check out these classic images from Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo as well as space-suit prototypes that never made the cut.
Top Photo: The Project Mercury Astronauts, also known as the Mercury 7 Bottom Photo: The front wall of the Flight Control Area featured a large world map display with the path to be followed by the capsule (NASA)
Thomas Paine is selected as NASA’s Administrator on this day in 1969.
At 10:30 a.m. you and the Vice President will be escorted from your office to the Fish Room where you will be met by James M. Murray, President of the National Space club….”
Love it when the Presidential Daily Diary reads like an adventure game. The appendix pictured above is from Richard Nixon’s presentation of the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy at the White House on March 5, 1969.
The trophy was presented to James Lovell, on behalf of the three Apollo 8 astronauts. After the ceremony, President Nixon announced that Thomas Paine had been selected as NASA’s third Administrator (thanks NASA History Office).
And if you are looking for a daily dose of space awesomeness, be sure to check out @NASAHistory.
-from the Nixon Library
On July 20, 1969, President Richard Nixon used this green telephone in the Oval Office to talk to the Apollo 11 astronauts while they were on the surface of the moon.
Now you can see this same phone on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This morning at 11 a.m., we will host a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the display “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program,” which will feature rarely seen documents, photographs, and artifacts that represent milestones in manned spaceflight during President Nixon’s administration.
It’s also the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Nixon. Stop by during this centennial year and learn about Nixon’s support for the lunar program and his efforts to improve Cold War relations through a cooperative space exploration program.
The telephone is part of the holdings of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
Merry Christmas — from Outer Space!
Once upon a time, space was quiet. This was before satellites had cluttered the orbit of the earth, beaming TV shows and text messages and GPS coordinates.
Before 1958, space was very quiet.
On December 18, 1958, the Air Force placed the first communications satellite, a Project SCORE relay vehicle, into orbit.
And then, on December 19, the sound of the a human voice was transmitted through space. It was the voice of President Eisenhower, broadcasting a message of peace to the world below.
This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means, I convey to you and all mankind America’s wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.
Fewer than 100 people knew about the project, called SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment). The goal was to put an Atlas missile into orbit and to show that communications satellites could transmit messages to Earth. It was a huge technological breakthrough and a milestone in the space race.
Sputnik 1 had been successfully launched in 1957 and had an onboard radio-transmitter. The satellite in the SCORE project used a tape recorder to store and forward voice messages—it was the first satellite to relay messages, making Eisenhower’s the first human voice to be heard in space.
The Christmas message was a last-minute change of plans. The Atlas launcher had already been sealed with prerecorded messages when the director of the project persuaded President Eisenhower to include a message of peace. The new message had to be changed through radio transmission, which meant that there was a chance the message might be overheard, and the President did not want to be “scooped” by the media. But the change was successful, and the message remained secret until the official broadcast.
Coming up next - the audio recording of Eisenhower’s historic greeting from outer space.
Apollo 17 - The Last Apollo Moon Mission
Vice President Agnew attends the Apollo 17 lift-off at the Kennedy Space Flight Center. December 7, 1972. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, Yorba Linda, CA.
Apollo 17 was the last mission of the Apollo program. It returned to Earth on December 19, 1972.
September 12, 1962 — President John F. Kennedy speaks at Rice University Stadium, Houston, Texas, concerning the nation’s efforts in space exploration. In his speech the President discusses the necessity for the United States to become an international leader in space exploration and famously states, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
May 8, 1961 — President and Mrs. Kennedy, along with Vice President Johnson, greet Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr. and his wife Louise prior to a presentation of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Commander Shepard.
The JFK Library and Museum will be unveiling a new installation featuring Freedom 7, the iconic space capsule that Shepard piloted on the first manned American spaceflight, tomorrow at 10:00 AM. If you’re in the Boston area, join us! If you’re not, don’t despair — the capsule is scheduled to remain at the Museum through December 2015.