SPACE MOVIES CINEMA picture of astronaut operating a camcorder




Click on a movie in the Quick Find List for a narrative description of the movie and hot text which downloads the movie to your computer for play. (Note: Most of the movies require QuickTime(.mov)or Video for Windows (.avi) players while streaming video types require Microsoft Media Player 7 or greater.)

Special NASA Historic Space Movies Compilation.

Some Scenes from Space Movies Cinema

Picture of John F. Kennedy picture of footprint on the Moon picture of astronaut looking at American flag on the Moon picture of astronaut Aldrin on the Moon picture of lunar rover on the Moon

Lunar Module preparing to dock with Command Module after launching from the Moon photo of the original seven Mercury astronauts photo of Gemini spacecraft in orbit photo of Ed White EVA photo of space shuttle launch

picture of a model likeness of Starwars Robot R2D2 photo of lunar lander at Space Center Houston photo of Apollo 11 launch photo of a shuttle satellite payload being deployed from the cargo bay photo of the original Apollo 13 crew with astronaut Swigert instead of astronaut Mattingly

cartoon animated gif of patron taking 
a seat behind audience in cinema
Please take your seat and select an entertaining Space Cinema Movie by clicking on any of the titles below.

Quick Find Movie List of Space Movies Cinema

JFK Rice Speech, First Step on Moon, First Flag on Moon, Moon Golf, Mooncar Motoring, Rocket Off Moon, Mercury Seven Morph, Gemini Liftoff, Gemini EVA, Shuttle Launch, Astro-Robot Morph, LEM-Starship Morph, Saturn Five Launch, Payload Deploy, Apollo 13 Crew Morph, Astro-Santa Morph, Astro-Armour Morph, Verne Columbiad Cannon Capsule to Apollo Capsule Morph, Astronaut "Buzz" Aldrin Compares Verne's fiction with Apollo 11, Columbia to Santa Maria Morph, Feather-drop Galileo Moon Movie, Moon Lander Design Morph, Barbeque Spacecraft Cooling Morph, Astronaut Lifevest Morph, Moon Race Morph, LM Eagle to Eagle Morph, Manned Space Vehicle Evolution Morph, Solar System Planetary Morph, Apollo 13 NASA Rescue Movie [full length], Buzz Aldrin to Buzz Lightyear Morph, Weightless Space Cartoon [1956], Woodpecker Attack on Shuttle, Reagan Challenger Eulogy, Godspeed Again John Glenn Morph, NASA APOLLO 11 Movie, Freedom Seven Mercury mission of Alan Shepard, Challenger NASA Video [45 minutes], American Flag on Moon Patriotic Movie

cartoon drawing of movie camera and cameraman 
operating the camera

1. Movie clip of JFK speaking at Rice University: (.mov) or (.avi) (833K)
See and hear the entire speech for 56K modem download [8.7 megabytes in a .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7 or later (speech lasts about 33 minutes)].
See and hear the entire speech for higher speed access [25.3 megabytes in .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7 or later].
See and hear a five minute audio version of the speech with accompanying slides and music. This is a most inspirational presentation of, perhaps, the most famous space speech ever given. The file is a streaming video Windows Media Player 7 format. [11 megabytes in .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7].
See and hear the entire speech for higher speed access [25.3 megabytes in .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7 or later].
See and hear the 17 minute 48 second speech in the .mpg format. This is a very large file of 189 megabytes and only suggested for those with DSL, ASDL, or cable modem access as the download time on a 28.8 or 56K modem would be many hours duration.

2. Movie of First Step on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi) (247K)

3. Movie of Erecting the American Flag on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi) (247K)

4. Movie of First Golf Shot on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi) (179K)

5. Movie of Astronauts Driving the Lunar Rover on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi) (306K)

6. Movie of Apollo Lunar Liftoff: (.mov) or (.avi) (663K)

7. Movie of a Morph of the Original Seven Astronauts: (.mov) or (.avi) (510K)

8. Movie of a Gemini Program Liftoff: (.mov) or (.avi) (298K)

9. Movie of Gemini Program EVA: (.mov) or (.avi) (434K)

10. Movie of Space Shuttle Launch: (.mov) or (.avi) (1.1M)

11. Movie of an Astronaut Morphing into a Robot: (.mov) or (.avi) (833K)

12. Movie of the Lunar Lander Morphing into a famous starship: (.mov) or (.avi) (595K)

13. Movie of a Saturn Apollo Launch: (.mov) or (.avi) (587K)

14. Movie of a Shuttle payload deployment: (.mov) or (.avi) (306K)

15. Movie of Astronaut Jack Swigert Morphing into the Official Apollo 13 Crew Photo: (.mov) or (.avi) (1885K)

16. During the Christmas holidays, play this movie of a famous red-suited spaceman by clicking here: (.mov) or (.avi).(561K)

17. Compare the design of a suit of armour to an advanced space suit by viewing this spacesuit morph movie. (.mov) or (.avi) (1327K)

Click on the word "spacesuit" for more information about the design and history of NASA's spacesuits.

18. Compare the design of Jules Verne's concept of a moonship (1865) with the type of spacecraft the United States sent to the moon in 1969 by viewing this morph movie:(.mov) or (.avi).(1156K) As the Columbia command module returns to Earth (July, 1969), Ed "Buzz" Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut and second man to set foot on the Moon, discusses (51 second video)(.mpg)(2419K) the remarkable coincidences between Jules Verne's fictional story, a century in the past, and the mission of Apollo 11.

19. Compare the design of Columbus's ship, the Santa Maria, [1492] with the Columbia Apollo type spacecraft which the United States sent to the moon in 1969 by viewing this morph movie. (.mov) or (.avi). Discussion: Click here for a vast amount of content comparing Columbus's voyage with that of Apollo moon bound astronauts. These pages of the Space Educators' Handbook compare and contrast crew selection, naming of the ships, navigation techniques, their respective missions, solitude faced by the crews, perils encountered in their voyages to new worlds, and on board maps, manuals, and logs. (1114K)

20. Watch Apollo 15 Astronaut David Scott perform Galileo's legendary "feather-drop" experiment on the Moon. (The story is legendary in the sense that historians believe the event may not be true.)

21. Watch the original Grumman proposal model of the lunar excursion module (LEM) morph into the eventual lunar module (LM) which transported the first men to the Moon's surface. View the movie by clicking here: (.mov) or (.avi).(783K) What changes do you notice between the two designs? Why do you think these changes were made?

22. Watch a unique demonstration of passive thermal control, the technique used by Apollo astronauts to evenly cool their spaceships during voyages to the Moon. Some called this technique, the barbeque cooler. This video shows why. Click here for the PTC video. (.avi).(1639K) For more about PTC click here. (Morphed photo is by Jerry Woodfill from original Wayne T. Mitchell photograph.)

23. There is a means of rescuing an astronaut who is separated from the space vehicle while performing an EVA (extra-vehicle-activity). It is a device worn by the astronaut called SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue). The device serves as a space life vest. This video shows what SAFER's function is: Click here to begin the movie. (.avi) . (239K) For a sketch of the SAFER, click here. How could the use of SAFER assist Mickey and Captain Doberman in this situation? (Click on the word situation in order to view the MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES comic cover and answer this question. [Cover copyright 1991 - The Walt Disney Company]

24. During the 1950's and 1960's, two world powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union vied to win the space race. Though the Soviet Union was first to orbit a satellite (October 4, 1957) and human in space (April 12, 1961), the first humans on the Moon were American astronauts (July of 1969). The following video depicts artists' conceptions of potential winners of the race to the Moon. It is interesting that the 1953 cover of COSMOS SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MAGAZINE [Copyright 1953] suggests Americans might be first on the Moon, but the later SATURN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY [Copyright 1958] shows Soviets as first to set their flag on lunar firmament. No doubt the successful orbit of the Russian Sputnik satellite a year earlier led to idea Soviets would win the race to the Moon. Click here to see who was the ultimate winner of the Moon race. (.avi) . (1010K).

Discussion: Discuss the landscapes on the magazine covers based on actual photos American astronauts brought back of the Moon. Are the artists' sketches of Moon mountains accurate? Examine the spaceships used by the cosmonaut and astronaut lunar explorers. What portions remain on the Moon when the crews return to Earth? Compare Neil Armstrong's Eagle lander to those shown on the science fiction covers. What is alike and different about the Eagle and these space ships? Finally, how accurately did the artists draw Earth in their pictures? What is missing? (Remember that the first photos of Earth from space were taken many years later.)

25. Click here[.avi format, 492 kbytes]) for a morph of spaceship Eagle into an eagle. Aside from the idea that a spaceship can turn into an eagle, why would the eagle find it impossible to fly in space?

26. Click here[.avi format, 426 kbytes]) for a 9 second morph movie of development of America's manned spacecraft (Mercury- Gemini-Apollo- Shuttle). Note: Click on the name of each spacecraft for additional information about its missions and characteristics. Also, the relative sizes of the vehicles are not accurately depicted in the morph video. Obviously, the shuttle orbiter is much larger than the Apollo command and service module.

27. Click here[.avi format, 1650 kbytes] for a 27 second morph movie of images of the Sun and the eight planets of the solar system shown in the order of their respective positions away from the Sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Dwarf Planet Pluto). Click on each planet's name for more information about its characteristics. Note: The images are not scaled to the respective relative sizes of the Sun and the eight planets, i.e., all images are the same size.

28. Click here [.asf 7.5 megabyte movie] for a very long movie clip [30 minutes] of the NASA produced movie about the rescue of Apollo 13 in a streaming video format which requires Microsoft Media Player 7.

29. Buzz Aldrin, the former astronaut, was the second man to set foot on the Moon. A "make-believe" astronaut named Buzz has also become very famous. Click here for a movie featuring both spacemen named Buzz. (1.5 megabyte .avi movie morph with mouse pad packaged image copyrighted by Disney Corporation). Questions: Compare and contrast the spacesuits worn by each Buzz. What is the last name of the second Buzz? Why do you think he was given that name? Click here for information about spacesuits.

30. NASA's media services produced excellent movies documenting manned missions. Click here to view the NASA movie, Apollo 13 [7.5 megabyte 30 minutes movie].

31. A major concern about putting humans in space was weightlessness over long periods of time. This 1956 animated cartoon, authored by the United States Air Force's Department of Space Medicine, deals with this subject based on thinking of that era. Click here to play the 1 minute cartoon. [.asf format 2.14 megabyte file requires Windows Media Player 7 or later] Click here for a quicker download but coarser version of the animation. [.asf 303 kilobypte version of the one minute cartoon, requires Windows Media Player]

32. WOODPECKERS ATTACK SHUTTLE'S EXTERNAL TANK was the problem discovered before the launch of STS-70. Click here to read about it, and click here to watch the woodpeckers at work. [.mpg 185K four second movie clip]

33. President Reagan's television message to the nation on the day of the Challenger Tragedy, January 28, 1986. The one minute eighteen second video clip contains most of the message. Windows Media Player 7 or later is required to run the video clip. Click here for 56K modem access and here for DSL or cable modems.

* * * * * * * * * * *

President Reagan's Speech to NASA Employees and the Nation

Concerning the Challenger Tragedy

(Delivered from the Whitehouse, January 28th, 1986)

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers. (They) overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps, we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the school-children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime, the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

34. John Glenn, America's first astronaut to orbit the Earth (1962) returned to space aboard the space shuttle in 1998. Click here for two magazine covers published 36 years apart to observe John Glenn's appearance in each. [Newsweek, copyright 1962 and Time, copyright 1998]

35. Apollo 11 landed the first men on the Moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. NASA's media services produced a very excellent movie depicting the mission. Click here to view the movie as a Microsoft Media Player 7 streaming video.

36. The first American manned space mission was Freedom 7. It launched Astronaut Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961 into a sub-orbital fifteen minute mission aboard the Mercury spacecraft. NASA's media services produced a movie depicting the mission. Click here to view the movie as a Microsoft Media Player 7 streaming video.

37. The Space Shuttle Challenger STS-51L mission ended tragically 73 seconds after launch on January 28,1986. Its crew included:

Francis R. Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith , Pilot
Judith A. Resnik , Mission Specialist
Ellison S. Onizuka , Mission Specialist
Ronald E. McNair , Mission Specialist
Gregory B. Jarvis , Payload Specialist
Sharon Christa McAuliffe , Payload Specialist

NASA's media services produced a movie depicting the mission, the ensuing investigation, and the cause of the disaster. Click here to view the 45 minute movie as a Microsoft Media Player 7 streaming video.

37. Events of September 11, 2001 resulted in many remembrances of those who gave their lives that day. To open a thirty-four second video/audio clip in remembrance of all those who perished and their families, click here for a Real Player streaming video and here for a Media Player version of the clip which also honors the American Flag.


Each button above links to a movie about the exploration of space. Click on the desired movie button. After the section of text describing the movie subject appears, click on the hot text to download and play the selected movie or simply click on the hot text above. Movies are available in both the Quicktime (.mov) and Video for Windows (.avi) formats. Click on the desired format to run the selected movie.


Movie of President John F. Kennedy Launching Apollo Program

Movie clip of JFK speaking at Rice University: (.mov) or (.avi) (833K)

See and hear the entire speech for 56K modem download [8.7 megabytes in a .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7 (speech lasts about 33 minutes)].
See and hear the entire speech for higher speed access [25.3 megabytes in .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7].
See and hear a five minute audio version of the speech with accompanying slides and music. This is a most inspirational presentation of, perhaps, the most famous space speech ever given. The file is a streaming video Windows Media Player 7 format. [11 megabytes in .asf movie format which requires Windows Media Player 7].
See and hear the 17 minute 48 second speech in the .mpg format. This is a very large file of 189 megabytes and only suggested for those with DSL, ASDL, or cable modem access as the download time on a 28.8 or 56K modem would be many hours duration.

* * * * * * * * *

On September 12th, 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice University's Rice Stadium to 35,000 Houstonians, saying of the lunar landing program, "...we do this not because it is easy but because it is hard..."

Click here for the entire text of the speech. An abbreviated text of the speech follows. [Note: There are some differences in what the President actually said from the printed copy of the text. Listen to the video of the speech and note those differences as an exercise.]


by President John F. Kennedy

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nationšs own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole - despite that the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of manšs recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if Americašs new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward - and so will space.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

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, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This yearšs space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year - a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority - even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun - almost as hot as it is here today - and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out - then we must be bold.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he wanted to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Movie of the First Foot Step on the Moon

Movie of First Step on the Moon (.mov) or (.avi). (247K)

Apollo 11 attained the national goal, set by President Kennedy in 1961, of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth within the decade of the 1960s. The mission was launched precisely on time from Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m. EDT, July 16, by a Saturn V. The Lunar Module touched down in the Moon's Sea of Tranquility at 4:18 p.m. EST, July 20, and Commander Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface at 10:56 p.m. EDT that evening, followed by Lunar Module pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. Astronaut Michael Collins, the Command Module pilot, orbited above, conducting scientific experiments and taking photographs. Their activities were viewed live around the world by the largest television audience in history.

The following historical discussion regarding the use of the American flag in the course of manned lunar exploration is a paper which was awarded the Driver Award for the best paper presented to the 26th meeting of the North American Vexillological (study of flags) Association, October 11, 1992, San Antonio, Texas.

Movie of Planting American Flag on the Moon

Movie of Erecting the American Flag on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi).(247K)

Where No Flag Has Gone Before:

Political and Technical Aspects of Placing a Flag on the Moon

by Anne M. Platoff

Prepared for Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Contract NAS9-18263


The flag on the moon represents an important event in vexillological history. This paper examines the political and technical aspects of placing a flag on the moon, focusing on the first moon landing. During their historic extravehicular activity (EVA), the Apollo 11 crew planted the flag of the United States on the lunar surface. This flag-raising was strictly a symbolic activity, as the United Nations Treaty on Outer Space precluded any territorial claim. Nevertheless, there were domestic and international debates over the appropriateness of the event. Congress amended the agency's appropriations bill to prevent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from placing flags of other nations, or those of international associations, on the moon during missions funded solely by the United States. Like any activity in space exploration, the Apollo flag-raising also provided NASA engineers with an interesting technical challenge. They designed a flagpole with a horizontal bar allowing the flag to "fly" without the benefit of wind to overcome the effects of the moon's lack of an atmosphere. Other factors considered in the design were weight, heat resistance, and ease of assembly by astronauts whose space suits restricted their range of movement and ability to grasp items. As NASA plans a return to the moon and an expedition to Mars, we will likely see flags continue to go "where no flag has gone before."


President John F. Kennedy, in his historic speech of September 1962, expressed his vision of space exploration for an audience assembled in the stadium of Rice University. Earlier that year he had challenged the United States to go to the moon within the decade. The space race was well underway and Kennedy, in foreseeing the role his country was to play in space exploration, also alluded to a role for flags. "We mean to lead [the exploration of space], for the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace." Thirty years later, as we prepare to return to the moon and continue on to Mars, it is time to reconsider the political and technical aspects of placing a flag on the lunar surface.

Political Aspects Domestic Considerations

The political aspects of the first lunar flag-raising were twofold -- both domestic and international. NASA relies upon Congress for its funding and therefore has always been very cognizant of the need for good public relations. Astronauts were considered national heroes, and the flag of the United States has been a common symbol used in all aspects of the manned space program. NASA's spacecraft and launch vehicles have always been decorated with flags. Edward H. White II became the first American astronaut to "walk in space" on 4 June 1965, and his space suit was one of the first to be adorned with a flag patch. Following this tradition, flags have been used on the suits of astronauts from many countries. Use of flags in the space program created controversy, however, only when it became apparent that a flag would be planted on the moon.

International Considerations

Prior to the Apollo 11 moon landing, the United Nations (U.N.) adopted the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 27 January 1967 (commonly known as the Outer Space Treaty). Article II of the treaty clearly states that "outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of occupation, or by any other means." The United States, signatory to the treaty, could not claim the moon. Therefore, raising a flag on the lunar surface would merely be a symbolic gesture -- an expression of triumph similar to the planting of a flag on Mount Everest or at the North and South Poles. The legal status of the moon clearly would not be affected by the presence of a U.S. flag on the surface, but NASA was aware of the international controversy that might occur as a result.

In January of 1969, President Richard M. Nixon's inaugural address stressed the international flavor of the Apollo program. "As we explore the reaches of space, let us go to the new worlds together -- not as new worlds to be onquered, but as a new adventure to be shared." NASA officials noted the tone of the speech, and there was some discussion within the agency that a United Nations flag could be used for the flight. This was one of the possibilities considered by the Committee on Symbolic Activities for the First Lunar Landing, which was appointed by Thomas O. Paine, NASA Acting Administrator, on February 25 of that year. The committee was instructed to select symbolic activities that would not jeopardize crew safety or interfere with mission objectives; that would "signalize the first lunar landing as an historic forward step of all mankind that has been accomplished by the United States" and that would not give the impression that the United States was "taking possession of the moon" in violation of the Outer Space Treaty. The committee considered several options including the possibilities of leaving a United States flag or an adaptation of the solar wind experiment in the form of a flag, leaving a set of miniature flags of all nations, and leaving a commemorative marker on the surface.

The committee's report recommended using only the flag of the United States during the lunar extravehicular activity (EVA). In addition, the committee suggested that a plaque bearing an inscription ("Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind") be mounted on the lunar module to emphasize that the purpose of the mission was one of exploration and not conquest. The original plaque design featured a U.S. flag, but the graphic was changed to pictures of the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth to symbolize the crew's point of origin. It was decided that, in addition to the large flag, 4 x 6 inch flags of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and flags for all member countries of t he United Nations and several other nations, would be carried in the lunar module and returned for presentation to governors and heads of state after the flight.

Technical Aspects Design and Engineering Constraints

Work on the lunar flag assembly began about three months prior to the Apollo 11 mission. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) and a member of the Committee on Symbolic Activities, asked Jack Kinzler, Chief of Technical Services Division at MSC, for ideas regarding the EVA. Kinzler suggested that a full-size U.S. flag could be deployed using a specially designed flagpole. He drew up a preliminary sketch and the idea was presented to the committee. Working with Deputy Division Chief Dave McCraw, he worked out the details of the lunar flag assembly over several days. The design was based on a number of engineering constraints. For example, to compensate for the lack of an atmosphere on the lunar surface, the flag assembly included a horizontal crossbar to give the illusion of a flag flying in the breeze.

Two other major constraints were the weight of the assembly and the stowage space required. The team designed the entire assembly to be as lightweight as possible -- when completed it weighed only 9 pounds and 7 ounces. They reduced the size of the package by developing a two-part telescoping pole apparatus with a telescoping crossbar. It was also necessary to design a flagpole that could be easily assembled and deployed by astronauts wearing space suits. ole had penetrated the surface.

Finally, it was necessary to protect the flag during the descent portion of the lunar landing. To make the flag easily accessible during the EVA, it was mounted on the left-hand side of the ladder on the Lunar Module (LM). This also reduced the amount of equipment that had to be carried inside the already crowded vehicle. It was estimated, however, that the LM ladder would be heated to 250°F by the descent engines as they fired during the descent staging phase of the landing. The ladder would experience temperatures up to 2,000°F during the 13 seconds of the touchdown phase. Tests run on the flag determined that it would withstand temperatures of only up to 300°F. These conditions made it necessary to design a protective shroud for the flag assembly. The shroud design was the work of the Structures and Mechanics Division of the Manned Spacecraft Center. It consisted of a stainless steel outer case separated from an aluminum layer by Thermoflex insulation. Several layers of thermal blanketing material were placed between the shroud and the flag assembly, limiting the temperature experienced by the flag to 180°F.

Construction and Testing

All of the work on the flag assembly and on the flag shroud was performed in the workshops at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Alterations to the flag were done in the fabrics shop, the sheet metals shop constructed the flagpole, and another shop anodized the flagpole -- electrolytically coating the aluminum to give it a gold color and a stiff protective surface. Tubing used in the construction of the pole was about an inch in diameter with a wall approximately 1/32 of an inch thick. The telescoping feature of the pole was created by using different sizes of tubing that slid neatly into each other. A capped bottom allowed the upper portion of the pole to slide easily into the lower portion. The base of the lower section was designed with a hardened steel point to make it easier to drive into the lunar soil.

Cost of materials was relatively low -- the flag was purchased for $5.50 and the tubing cost approximately $75. The cost of the shroud has been estimated at several hundred dollars due to the materials involved. Construction of the prototypes was achieved in several days, and after a week the team had made a few backup assemblies, and some to be used for crew training purposes. Demonstration tests were performed where the flag assembly was folded, packed, unpacked, erected and deployed to assure that it would operate properly. Kinzler flew to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to participate in a mockup review of the lunar flag assembly on 25 June 1969. The astronauts were included in several of these tests as part of their EVA training so that they would be familiar with deployment procedures.

Preflight Preparation

Packing of the flag assembly followed a written 12-step procedure which required up to 5 people to ensure that it was tightly packed. Wooden blocks and plastic ties were used by the team to keep the packed flag together as they progressed through the steps. These packing aids were removed when the flag was placed into the thermal package. After the flag was rolled into the thermal package a thermal rip strip made with Velcro was used to close the package. The strip had a pull-tab at the top to make it easier for the astronauts to open the package once they were on the lunar surface. This thermal package was then installed into the metal shroud following a 4-step procedure. A small block of Thermaflex insulation was placed around the bottom and top ends of the pole to protect the flag ends from hot brackets. The flag packing for the Apollo 11 flight was performed in Jack Kinzler's office and was approved by the Chief of Quality Assurance who was present during the procedure. Once the flag thermal package was properly stowed inside the shroud, it was taken to the launch site at KSC to be mounted on the ladder of the LM.

Because the final decision to fly the flag and attach the plaque was made so close to the launch date, a Lear jet was chartered to fly Kinzler, George Low (Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program), Low's secretary, the flag assembly, and the commemorative plaque to KSC before the launch. The flag and plaque were installed on the LM of Apollo 11 at 4:00 in the morning as the spacecraft sat atop its Saturn V rocket ready for launch. Kinzler had written an 11-step procedure for mounting the assembly on the ladder and personally supervised the installation. Proper installation was vital if the astronauts were to be able to deploy the flag on the lunar surface. An astronaut first released the shroud "pip" pin by squeezing it and then pulling it out, and then released the main flag assembly "pip" pin. A spring tension against the flag poles was released when the pins were pulled allowing easy removal of the shroud. The astronaut then pulled the Velcro strip off the insulation package and discarded the wrapping materials.

Deployment and Performance

The first U.S. flag on the moon was deployed by Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin during their historic EVA on 20 July 1969 (at 4 days, 14 hours and 9 minutes mission-elapsed time). The flag was seen worldwide on live television. At their technical crew debriefing, Armstrong and Aldrin reported few problems with the deployment. They had trouble extending the horizontal telescoping rod and could not pull it all the way out. This gave the flag a bit of a "ripple effect," and later crews intentionally left the rod partially retracted. The Apollo 11 astronauts also noted that they could drive the lower portion of the pole only about 6 to 9 inches into the surface. It is uncertain if the flag remained standing or was blown over by the engine blast when the ascent module took off.

The only design change made as the result of performance on the lunar surface was in the catching mechanism of the horizontal crossbar's hinge. The Apollo 12 crew could not get the catch to latch properly and, as a result, the flag drooped slightly. Later models of the flag assembly had a double-action latch that would work even if the horizontal bar was not raised above a 90 degree angle.

Reactions to the Flag Deployment

Even though the event took only 10 minutes of the 2 1/2 hour EVA, for many people around the world the flag-raising was one of the most memorable parts of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. There were no formal protests from other nations that the flag-raising constituted an illegal attempt to claim the moon. Buzz Aldrin, in an article written for Life magazine, stated that as he looked at the flag he sensed an "almost mystical unification of all people in the world at that moment." A few published articles expressed regret that NASA had chosen not to plant a U.N. flag, either in addition to or alongside that of the United States.

Prior to the mission, several members of Congress relayed letters from their constituents to NASA which recommended (or in some cases opposed) the use of specific flags. Flags mentioned in these letters included the U.S. flag, the U.N. flag, and the Christian flag. The congressional debate heated up in the House of Representatives as the body considered NASA's appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 1970. On 10 June, NASA formally notified members of Congress that a decision had been made to raise the U.S. flag on the lunar surface. The House approved the appropriations bill on that same day after amending it to include a flag provision. This measure did not actually affect the Apollo 11 mission, but did make it clear to NASA where many members of Congress stood on the flag issue.

A House and Senate conference committee agreed on the final version of the bill on 4 November 1969 which included a provision that "the flag of the United States, and no other flag, shall be implanted or otherwise placed on the surface of the moon, or on the surface of any planet, by members of the crew of any spacecraft ... as part of any mission ... the funds for which are provided entirely by the Government of the United States." The amendment, in deference to the Outer Space Treaty, concluded with the statement "this act is intended as a symbolic gesture of national pride in achievement and is not to be construed as a declaration of national appropriation by claim of sovereignty."

Although the amendment was passed and became law, technically NASA was not required to deploy a U.S. flag on each of the following Apollo missions. Spencer M. Beresford, NASA's General Counsel, noted in a report to the Associate Deputy Administrator that "the managers on the part of the House further clarified the intent of the provision during the conference by stipulating that this section should not be construed to mean that the American flag must necessarily be implanted or otherwise placed on the surface of the moon or the surface of any planet on each and every landing subsequent to an initial landing." Regardless of this interpretation, the Apollo flights could have been considered exempt since, as pointed out by a member of the House of Representatives, several international partners had contributed to portions of the Apollo Program. This is also likely to be the case if and when NASA sends astronauts back to the moon or on to Mars.

The Future

President George Bush, speaking on the steps of the National Air and Space Museum on the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, proposed that lunar/Mars exploration should be the nation's long-term objective in space exploration. "The Apollo astronauts left more than flags and footprints on the Moon. They also left some unfinished business. For, even 20 years ago, we recognized that America's ultimate goal was not simply to go there and go back -- but to go there and go on."

Although Bush did not include the concept of international cooperation in his vision of the space exploration initiative, there are many who recognize that the political climate has changed since the days of Apollo. Space exploration and space projects have become internationalized and missions on the scale of a lunar base or a Mars mission will probably require international funding to make them feasible. It will be interesting to see which flags join that of the United States on the lunar surface and which will be the first flags on Mars. One thing is clear -- as humans explore the solar system we will likely see flags continue to go "where no flag has gone before."


Movie of First Golf Shot on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi). (179K)

Apollo 14 Mission (January 31-February 9, 1971)

Crew: Commander: Alan Shepard

CM Pilot: Stuart A. Roosa

LM Pilot: Edgar D. Mitchell

Mission Details: This was the third Mission to land on the Moon, landing in the Fra Mauro region. Just prior to entering the lunar module for return to Earth, Alan Shepard removed two golf balls from his space suit. As his golf club, he used the detached handle from one of the geological tools. His first swing was a "duff." He missed the ball. Perhaps, to assure that historians recorded him as the first lunar golfer, Shepard swung twice more. Because the bulkiness of the space suit prevented him from bringing his arms close enough for a two-handed-grip, his swings were one-handed. In each of the final swings, the balls took off as projectiles without the resistance of atmosphere and experiencing the reduced sixth gravity of the Moon.

The memorable words of the Moon's first golfer were, "There it goes, miles and miles and miles." However, during the return to Earth, a more modest reflection of Al Shepard judged the first ball to have gone 200 yards and the second, 400 yards. Imagine hitting a four hundred yard drive on Earth with a one-handed swing of an iron whose shaft is fashioned from a stick half the length of a hoe's handle.

Lunar Rover Movie

Movie of Astronauts Driving the Lunar Rover on the Moon: (.mov) or (.avi). (306K)

(The following "NASA FACTS, MANNED LUNAR ROVING VEHICLE" was published prior to use of the Lunar Rover on the Moon. However, this information is included as useful to understanding its design, development, and mission. Virtually all goals described in the following narrative were fulfilled by the Lunar Rover.)


Astronauts on the moon have been limited in the range of their explorations to objects within walking distance of their lunar module. Beginning with the Apollo 15 mission in July of 1971, the two astronauts can ride a four-wheeled vehicle to traverse farther from their landing site.

The lunar roving vehicle, weighing approximately 480 pounds, resembles a stripped-down dune buggy. But it can carry more than twice its weight in passengers, scientific instruments, and lunar soil samples.

Powered by two silver zinc batteries driving electric motors on each of the four wire-mesh wheels, the vehicle will have a top speed of approximately eight miles per hour. During the astronauts' staytime on the moon, it can make several sorties totaling approximately 40 miles, or 65 kilometers.

The Boeing Company, Aerospace Group, under a cost plus incentive fee contract with the Marshall Center, is designing and building three flight-qualified vehicles, plus related test and training equipment. Boeing's major subcontractor is the General Motors Delco Electronics Division laboratories at Santa Barbara, California.

The first operational lunar roving vehicle is scheduled for delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in April, 1971. The other two flight vehicles will be delivered to NASA at three month intervals.

The lunar roving vehicle will be carried to the moon in the cargo compartment of the descent stage of the lunar module. To save space, the vehicle's frame will be hinged, with three segments folding together. The four wheels will be folded against the chassis. When the astronauts leave the lunar module for their extravehicular activities, one of them will release the lunar roving vehicle from its stowage compartment. Deployment will be semi-automatic. Springs will unfold the vehicle and its wheels, and they will lock together into the deployed position.

One astronaut should be able to deploy, activate, and check the vehicle quickly and easily. It will measure about 10 feet, 2 inches long, slightly more than 6 feet wide, and have a 71/2 foot wheelbase.


The two astronauts sit side by side in the open-frame vehicle. Between them is a hand control (joy stick~ rather than a steering wheel. The vehicle can travel forward or in reverse at variable speeds. The driver sets a toggle switch to provide power to the drive motors, then uses the joy stick to control movement. He tilts the stick forward to go ahead, backwards for reverse, left or right for steering, and pulls straight back to apply the brakes. All four wheels turn to steer around obstacles, and the turn radius will be no more than the length of the vehicle.


The vehicle can negotiate step-like obstacles one foot high and cross crevasses of 28 inches. Wheel diameter is 32 inches. The fully loaded vehicle, carrying a total weight of 1,000 pounds, can climb and descend slopes as steep as 20 degrees. A parking brake can hold the vehicle stationary on slopes of 30 degrees or less. It will have ground clearance of at least 14 inches on a flat surface.

The lunar roving vehicle will carry a lunar communications relay unit for communications with earth when it is out of line of sight with the lunar module. It will relay voice and bio-medical data from the astronauts' suit-contai ned communications, and in addition, it will relay television coverage to the earth. This unit is provided by the Manned Spacecraft Center, and will be mounted afler the astronauts are on the lunar surface.

The moon is much smaller than the earth in diameter, and the astronauts will quickly be over the horizon and out of sight of the lunar module. Since a magnetic compass cannot be used on the moon, an important feature of the vehicle will be a built-in navigation system that will tell the astronauts the direction and distance backtothe lunar module at all times, as well as the total distance they have traveled.

Reliability is obtained through simplicity in design and operation and through redundancy. For example, there are two complete battery systems, each sufficient for powering the vehicle. The vehicle is normally steered by both the front and rear wheels; however, if one steering mechanism fails, it will be disconnected and the remaining steering system will do the job.

Each wheel is powered by a separate electric motor which has a sealed drive to prevent problems of lunar dust. Even if two wheel motors fail, the vehicle can continue to be driven by simply decoupling the failed motor to free the wheel.

Designers of the lunar roving vehicle have studied samples of the moon's soil returned by crews of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions, as well as the data gathered through photographs, film, and observations of the astronauts during and after the flights.

The consistency and mechanical behavior of the lunar soil should not hamper the lunar roving vehicle's operations. Properties of the soil have been carefully considered in designing a wheeled vehicle that will travel the moon's surface with its alien environment, reduced gravity, and extremes of temperature. The flexible metal wheels, made of woven wire, are rugged, light, and have good traction characteristics.


The three lunar vehicles will be constructed and tested by Boeing's Kent Space Center near Seattle, Wash. Some of the testing will be in a large thermal vacuum chamber. The radiation spectrum of the sun and the vacuum of the lunar environment can be simulated in the test chamber, which is 39 feet in diameter and 50 feet in height.

A special vehicle, designed for operation in the stronger gravity field of earth, is being used for mobility tests and to train the astronauts.

The lunar roving vehicle will increase both the range and the actual exploration portion of the time which the astronauts spend on the moon's surface.


Due to the time limitation of the life support systems in the back packs, and potential fatigue of the astronauts, use of the lunar vehicle will be divided into three sorties during their three-day stay on the moon. For safety reasons, the astronauts will remain within three miles of the landing site. From this distance they can walk back to the lunar module should their vehicle break down. While it may appear at first glance that a three-mile exploration radius is very restrictive, there are approximately 28 square miles within this area for their investigations.

NASA is modifying the Apollo spacecraft, the space suits worn by the astronauts, and life support systems to permit astronauts to remain on the lunar surface up to three days during the last Apollo missions. The modified lunar module will be able to land more weight on the moon. Part of this extra weight-carrying capacity will be used to transport the lunar roving vehicle. The vehicle will have a minimum operational lifetime of 78 hours during the lunar day.

NASA and its contractors have been studying many different types of lunar vehicles since the early 1960's. Some of the more advanced concepts would be capable of missions ranging up to 14 days in the manned mode, and up to one year of operation unmanned, driven remotely from earth and ranging more than 500 miles over the moon's surface.

Lunar Liftoff Movie

Movie of Apollo Lunar Liftoff: (.mov) or (.avi). (663K)

On August 2, 1971, at 1:11 p.m., Apollo 15's lunar lander, Falcon, lifted off from the Moon. Those on Earth listening by television could hear the background music of "Into the Wild Blue Yonder," the Air Force fight song, played by a tape recorder started by Commander David R. Scott. For the first time, Earth television viewers could see a launch of the lunar module from the Moon's surface by way of a color television camera mounted on the nearby lunar rover vehicle.

The following discussion regarding ascent from the Moon is written by Mr. Rocco A. Petrone who came to NASA in 1960 and personally surpervised the Apollo 11 launch. The discussion appeared in the NASA publication Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, Edited by Edgar M. Cortright, NASA SP-350, Washington, D.C. 1975.

Lunar Ascent

"I have often been asked why it took hundreds of men to launch the astronauts to the Moon, whereas just two of them on the Moon can launch themselves back to Moon orbit. Well, the two of them were there on the Moon in the LM's ascent stage. They had everything they needed: their fuel was loaded; they had water; their cooling system was working and so was their oxygen supply. Their radar was tracking and their communications to Earth were functioning, and long before launch we had checked to see that they had no electrical interference. These systems were working because of the preparations and check-out efforts of hundreds of people on the ground before the spacecraft was committed to launch."

The Original Seven United States Astronauts Movie

Movie clip (4161KB .mpg format, 56 seconds) of the original Mercury astronauts plus the launch of Alan Shepard in Freedom 7 Mercury Mission

Movie of a Morph of the Original Seven Astronauts(.mov) or (.avi). (510K)

Malcolm Scott Carpenter; Commander, USN (Retired); born May 1, 1925, Boulder, Colorado. Attended University of Colorado although not graduating (awarded an earned degree of engineering after his space flight), and was chosen in the first group of astronauts in 1959. Commander Carpenter was backup pilot for Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7), and the pilot of Mercury-Atlas 7 (Aurora 7). An elbow injury from a motorbike accident in Bermuda in 1964 removed him from flight status, and he resigned from NASA in August 1967 to join the U.S. Navy Project Sealab. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 1969, and is now (1985) an engineering consultant in Los Angeles, California.

Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr.; Colonel, USAF (retired); born March 6, 1927, Shawnee, Oklahoma. Received bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology (1956) and was chosen in the first group of astronauts in 1959. Colonel Cooper was backup pilot for Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7), pilot for Mercury-Atlas 9 (Faith 7), command pilot for Gemini 5, backup command pilot for Gemini 12, and backup commander for Apollo 10. He retired from NASA and the Air Force in July 1970 to form Gordon Cooper Associates in Hialeah, Florida. He then was Vice-President for Research and Development for WED Enterprises, Glendale, California. He is currently (1985) President of Vistec, Los Angeles.

John Herschel Glenn, Jr.; Colonel, USMC (Retired); born July 18, 1921, Cambridge, Ohio. Attended Muskingum College, entered Naval Aviation Cadet Program (1942), commissioned in the Marine Corps (1943) and was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was backup pilot for Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) and Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7), and was the first American to make an orbital flight, in Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7). He retired from NASA and the Marine Corps in 1964 to join the Royal Crown Cola Company, and to enter politics. He was elected U.S. Senator from the State of Ohio in November 1974 and was re-elected in November 1980.

Virgil "Gus" Ivan Grissom; Lieutenant Colonel, USAF; born April 3, 1926, Mitchell, Indiana; died January 27, 1967, in the Apollo 204 fire at Cape Kennedy, Florida. Received bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Purdue University (1950) and was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was pilot for Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7), command pilot for Gemini 3, backup command pilot for Gemini 6, and had been selected as commander of the first manned Apollo flight.

Walter Marty Schirra, Jr.; Captain, USN (Retired); born March 12, 1923, Hackensack, New Jersey. Received bachelor of science from the U.S. Naval Academy (1945) and was chosen in the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was backup pilot for Mercury-Atlas 7 (Aurora 7), pilot of Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7), backup command pilot of Gemini 3, command pilot of Gemini 6, and commander of Apollo 7. Captain Schirra retired from NASA and the Navy in July 1969 to become Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Control Company, Englewood, Colorado, and Chairman, Sernco, Inc. In 1976 he became Director of Marketing-Powerplant and Aerospace Systems, Johns Manville Company, and Vice-President, Johns Manville Corporation, in Denver, Colorado. In December 1977 he resigned those positions to become Vice-President for Development for Goodwin Companies in Middleton, Colorado. In 1980 he was elected to the Board of Directors of Electromedics Inc. He is currently (1985) a consultant in Sante Fe, California and a public speaker.

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.; Rear Admiral, USN (Retired); born November 18, 1923, East Derry, New Hampshire. Received bachelor of science degree from the U.S Naval Academy (1944) and was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was pilot of Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) becoming America's first man in space, backup pilot for Mercury-Atlas 9, was subsequently grounded due to an inner ear ailment until May 7, 1969 (during which time he served as chief of the (Astronaut Office), commander of Apollo 14 (fifth man to walk on the Moon), and in June 1971 resumed duties as chief of the Astronaut Office. He retired from NASA and the Navy Aug. 1, 1974, to join the Marathon Construction Company of Houston, Texas, as partner and chairman. He is currently (1985) President of the Windward Coors Company, Deer Park, Texas.

Donald "Deke" Kent Slayton; Major, USAF (Retired); born March 1,1924, Sparta, Wisconsin. Received bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from the University of Minnesota (1949) and was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was chosen as command pilot for Mercury-Atlas 7 (Aurora 7), but was removed due to detection of a heart murmur. He resigned his commission as an Air Force Major in November 1963, but continued as an active member of the astronaut team, becoming Director of Flight Crew Operations, a position he held until February 1974. Mr. Slayton returned to flight status in March 1972 and was docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. He was a manager for the shuttle orbital flight tests. He left NASA in February 1982 and currently (1985) serves as a consultant for Aerospace Corp. and Space Services, Inc., Houston, Texas. Deceased in 1993.

(The above data appeared in ASTRONAUTS AND COSMONAUTS BIOGRAPHICAL AND STATISTICAL DATA, Revised - June 28, 1965, prepared by the Congressional Research Service Library of Congress.)

Gemini Launch Movie

Movie of a Gemini Program Liftoff: (.mov) or (.avi). (298K)

Gemini launches drew hundreds of thousands of spectators, awed by the roar, flame, and smoke of the big Titan II booster. Viewers clogged the highways and camped by roadsides. Millions of others watched launchings on television, and the astronauts received tumultuous welcomes on their return.

(The following discussion regarding the Gemini program was written by Robert R. Gilruth who was Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas during the Gemini and Apollo programs. The discussion appeared in the NASA publication Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, Edited by Edgar M. Cortright, NASA SP-350, Washington, D.C. 1975.)

Gemini Program

The Gemini program was designed to investigate in actual flight many of the critical situations which we would face later in the voyage of Apollo. The spacecraft carried an onboard propulsion system for maneuvering in Earth orbit. A guidance and navigation system and a rendezvous radar were provided to permit astronauts to try out various techniques of rendezvous and docking with an Agena target vehicle. After docking, the astronauts could light off the Agena rocket for large changes in orbit, simulating the entry-into-lunar-orbit and the return-to-Earth burns of Apollo. Gemini was the first to use the controlled reentry system that was required for Apollo in returning from the Moon. It had hatches that could be opened and closed in space to permit extravehicular activity by astronauts, and fuel cells similar in purpose to those of Apollo to permit flights of long duration. The spacecraft was small by Apollo standards, carrying only two men in close quarters. However, the Titan II launch vehicle, which was the best available at that time, could not manage a larger payload.

A total of 10 manned flights were made in the Gemini program between March 1965 and November 1966. They gave us nearly 2000 man-hours in space and developed the rendezvous and docking techniques essential to Apollo. By burning the Agena rockets after docking, we were able to go to altitudes of more than 800 nautical miles and prove the feasibility of the precise space maneuvers essential to Apollo. our first experience in EVA was obtained with Gemini and difficulties here early in the program paved the way for the smoothly working EVA systems used later on the Moon. The Borman and Lovell flight, Gemini VII, showed us that durations up to two weeks were possible without serious medical problems, and the later flights showed the importance of neutral buoyancy training in preparation of zero-gravity operations outside the spacecraft.

Gemini gave us the confidence we needed in complex space operations, and it was during this period that Chris Kraft and his team really made spaceflight operational. They devised superb techniques for flight management, and Mission Control developed to where it was really ready for the complex Apollo missions. Chris Kraft, Deke Slayton, head of the astronauts, and Dr. Berry, our head of Medical Operations, learned to work together as a team. Finally, the success of these operations and the high spaceflight activity kept public interest at a peak, giving our national leaders the broad supporting interest and general approval that made it possible to press ahead with a program of the scale of Apollo.

Michael Collins Extra-Vehiclar-Activity (EVA)

Movie of Gemini Program EVA: (.mov) or (.avi). (434K)

The first American "spacewalk" or Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) was performed by Edward H. White II during the Gemini IV mission (June 3-7, 1965).

Ed White used a self-maneuvering unit which he held in his hand. The unit discharged cold gas. Ed White was tethered to the capsule by an umbilical which provided life support needs like oxygen to breathe.

Later in the Gemini Program, astronaut Michael Collins also performed an EVA tethered to the Gemini. Astronaut Collins used his cold gas gun to maneuver over to the attached Agena vehicle and retrieve an experiment.

Space Shuttle Launch Movie

Movie of Space Shuttle Launch: (.mov) or (.avi).(1.1M)

(The following discussion appeared in the 1981 SPINOFF magazine published by NASA.)

The Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle is the principal component of the Space Transportation System, which includes the Spacelab a manned laboratory carried in the Orbiter's cargo bay‹and several types of upper stage ''space tugs'' for boosting payloads to orbits beyond the Shuttle's operational altitude. Space Transportation System additions contemplated for later development include orbital power stations for large-scale electrical needs, more advanced space tugs, robot systems for in-space maintenance and construction tasks, and a heavy-lift vehicle for delivering to orbit greater payloads than the Shuttle can accommodate.

The Space Transportation System enables more efficient performance of traditional space tasks and allows accomplishment of direct benefit operations earlier considered impracticable or overcostly . For example, the availability of the system opens up an entirely new realm of space potential: erection in orbit of large structures to serve such purposes as revolutionary advances in communications, or manufacture in weightless space of certain items less efficiently produced, or not producible at all, in the presence of Earth's gravity.

The versatile Space Shuttle offers unprecedented operational flexibility. The Shuttle Orbiter can deposit satellites in many different orbits. On many missions it carries multiple payloads. It can serve as an orbital launch facility for sending interplanetary spacecraft into deep space trajectories. And in addition to its delivery / retrieval role, the Orbiter - when fitted with the Spacelab - becomes a human-staffed space station for stays aloft as long as two weeks.

Capable of delivering payloads of more than 50,000 pounds to an altitude of almost 700 miles, the Orbiter was built by Rockwell International Corporation. Rockwell is also prime contractor for integration of the overall Shuttle system. Both Orbiter and integration contracts are managed by Johnson Space Center.

The solid rocket boosters are produced by Thiokol Corporation, and Martin Marietta Corporation supplies the huge external tank which houses fuel and oxidizer for the Orbiter's three main engines; these contracts are managed by Marshall Space Flight Center. Under contract with Kennedy Space Center, United Space Boosters, Inc. handles solid rocket launch functions, including operation of the recovery ships and refurbishment of the boosters. The European Space Agency is responsible for the Spacelab component.

The two large solid rockets boost the Orbiter to an altitude of 30 miles during the first two minutes of flight. Pushed clear by small rocket motors, the spent boosters are lowered by large parachutes to the sea, where they are picked up by recovery ships. Drawing fuel from the big external tank, the Orbiter's three main engines power the spacecraft for another six minutes. Just before orbital velocity is attained, the external tank is jettisoned and not recovered. An orbial maneuvering system, fueled from tanks within the Orbiter, provides the final thrust into and adjustment of the orbit.

Astronaut Morphing into a Robot

Movie of an Astronaut Morphing into a Robot: (.mov) or (.avi). (833K)

Robots in Space


Robots have intrigued humans and captured our imaginations for centuries. As early as the 8th century B.C., Homer, in his epic poem Illiad, described "handmaids of god resembling living young damsels." Science fiction literature and motion pictures also have pictured mobile devices, human-like in form, encased in metal, and able to do those everyday tasks from which many of us would like to be freed.

Despite our long fascination with robots, the first U.S. patent for an industrial robot was issued less than 40 years ago to George C. Devol.. In 1958, Joseph F. Engelberger, a science-fiction enthusiast, developed the first programmable manipulator, or robot. Since then, robots have become indispensable to the industry, to medicine, and to the United States space program. And while today's robots may not look or perform as fantastically as those featured in literature or movies, they are the fulfillment of dozens of science fiction visions.

Robots: What and Why

A robot may be define as a self-controlled device consisting of electronic, electrical, or mechanical units. More generally, it is a machine that functions in place of a living agent. Robots are especially desirable for certain work functions because, unlike humans, they never get tired; they can endure physical conditions that are uncomfortable or even dangerous; they can operate in airless conditions; they do not get bored by repetition; and they cannot be distracted from the task at hand.

Thus, robots are especially valuable to space exploration. Not only can they travel to environments too hostile or too distant for human explorers, but they can also enhance the work schedule of a manned space mission.

Types of Robots in Space

Today, two types of devices exist which can be considered space robots. One is the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) and the other is the RMS (Remote Manipulator System).

Typically, ROVs are used in nuclear facilities for inspection and repair in areas too dangerous for humans, and by police bomb squads for removal of potentially hazardous materials. Space researchers are especially interested in this type of robot for terrain exploration in space.

An ROV can be an unmanned spacecraft that remains in flight, a lander that makes contact with an extraterrestrial body and operates from a stationary position, or a rover that can move over terrain once it has landed. It is difficult to say exactly when early spacecraft evolved from simple automatons to robot explorers or ROVs. Even the earliest and simplest spacecraft operated with some preprogrammed functions monitored closely from Earth.

The most common type of existing robotic device is the crane-like RMS (Remote Manipulator System), or robot arm, most often used in industry and manufacturing. This mechanical arm recreates many of the movements of the human arm, having not only side-to-side and up-and-down motion, but also a full 360-degree circular motion at the wrist, which humans do not have. Robot arms are of two types. One is computer-operated and programmed for a specific function. The other requires a human to actually control the strength and movement of the arm to perform the task. To date, a robot arm has performed a number of tasks on several NASA space missions-serving as a grappler, a remote assembly device, and also as a positioning and anchoring device for astronauts working in space.

Robots and Unmanned Space Exploration

Robotic spacecraft are especially useful in space exploration where distances are too long and environments too hostile and dangerous to send humans. Before astronauts were sent to the Moon, a series of Surveyor spacecraft soft-landed on the lunar surface between 1966 and 1968. Triggered by electronic signals from Earthbound humans, four Surveyors transmitted thousands of images back to Earth and analyzed solid samples gathered with an extendible claw. Based on this information, the United States was able to plan its manned Apollo Moon missions.

The Soviet Lunokhod 1 lunar rover can be called the first mobile robot to explore an extraterrestrial body. In 1970 it rolled out onto the Moon's surface from the Luna 17 spacecraft and was remotely controlled by Soviet scientists through television viewers. One of its autonomous functions was the ability to sense when it was going to tip over and automatically stop and wait for signal from Earth to help it proceed.

Two Viking spacecraft, launched in 1975, parachuted landers to the Martian surface with television cameras, soil scoops and analyzers, and weather stations. Some of these devices transmitted valuable information to Earth until 1982. If humans are ever to explore or even inhabit Mars, additional robotic probes similar to these are essential.

An exciting and practical use for ROVs is as unmanned deep space probes. The Voyager 2 proves are excellent examples of how unmanned space missions can greatly increase our understanding of the universe. They are programmed automatically to make adjustments in operations far from direct human interaction. The Voyager missions, launched in 1977, have provided scientists with opportunities to view Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and they continue to provide thought-provoking new data. They have already traveled over 2.8 billion miles, and if they continue to operate, the Voyager proves will hurtle on past the edge of the solar system to interstellar space, sending back signals that are still unfeasible for a manned mission to gather at this point in our space development.

Robots and Manned Space Exploration

To date, the Space Shuttle's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) is the only robotic device which has been used on manned space missions. The robot arm made its test debut in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia Mission STS-2 in 1981. Then in 1983, on Space Shuttle Challenger Mission STS-7, when Sally Ride made her historic flight as the first American woman in space, the robot arm was used to release and recover a pallet satellite.

Space Shuttle Mission STS-41C, a 1984 Challenger flight, illustrates some of the advantages of using remote manipulators in space. One of the mission's goals was to capture the malfunctioning Solar Maximum Mission Satellite (Solar Max) for repair and re-orbit. During an extravehicular activity (EVA), astronaut George D. Nelson was unsuccessful in trying to grab the satellite by hand in an untethered space walk, but later, Nelson and astronaut James van Hoften used the Shuttle's giant robot arm to grapple the satellite; then they repaired it in the Shuttle's giant robot arm to grapple the satellite; then they repaired it in the Shuttle's payload bay. Once the repair was successfully completed, the RMS was used to redeploy the satellite.

On the same Challenger mission, human intervention was required to help the robot arm deploy the largest payload yet handled by a Shuttle. The Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) weighing 21,300 pounds (9700 kilograms) was so large it blocked the vision of Astronaut Terry Hart who was manipulating the robot arm. Using a remote TV monitor for visual feedback, Hart first used the RMS to latch onto a grapple fixture on the LDEF to activate its power sources, and then used the RMS to lift, steady, and release the LDEF into orbit. The LDEF contained 57 experiments and was the first satellite specifically designed to be returned to Earth; so, in 1990, the RMS was again used to grapple the satellite and lower it into the Shuttle's payload bay for the return trip to Earth.

A second satellite retrieval mission was accomplished in 1984 during Space Shuttle Discovery Mission STS-51A. This time, a manual retrieval and berthing procedure was accomplished by an astronaut positioned in a restraint system located at the end of the RMS. This foot restraint device, which functions like a "cherry picker," holds and positions the astronaut operated the robot arm from inside the Shuttle's cabin.

On Space Shuttle Atlantis Mission STS-61B, launched in 1985, two important construction experiments were conducted using the RMS. These experiments, referred to as EASE and ACCESS, tested space assembly of two different structures consisting of beams and nodes and evaluated the roles EVA might play in building the planned Space Station.

All these examples of using the RMS during manned space missions rely on teleoperation, continuously controlled remote manipulation by a human. (Teleoperation comes from the Greek, telchir, meaning "distant hands.") Although the RMS has an automated mode, it has never been used in an actual recovery operation. This mode, however, was tested on STS-3 in 1982.

Future Robots in Space

NASA's current plans for development of space robots concentrates on three main uses of remote manipulation in space: servicers, cranes, and rovers. Servicers are humansized, multi-arm, remote manipulators which are used for servicing and assembly. Cranes, like the RMS currently operated on Space Shuttle missions, are long single arms used for repositioning larges masses. Rovers are mobile platforms for transporting payloads on planetary servicers and extraterrestrial surfaces.

In its research, NASA's approach is to focus on remote manipulation systems which demonstrate robustness, or the ability to cope with problems; versatility, or the ability to do a variety of tasks; and simplicity, offering the operator a sophisticated system in a package that reduces complexity - much in the same way a powerful software package allows a nonexpert to manipulate the capabilities of a computer. The strategy is to develop remote manipulation technology where humans and machines have both redundant and complementary roles.

Today's space robots operate either by teleoperation (continuous remote control of a manipulator) or robotics (preprogrammed control of a manipulator). Both aređ? ? :ly controlled by humans. The distinction is that the teleoperators are controlled by humans remote in distance, and robots are controlled by humans in time (by way of computer programs). NASA's goal is to develop a system of telerobotics where teleoperation and robots are combined. The future of robots in space is not a question of human versus machine, but rather a combination of the best capabilities of human and machine to achieve something which surpasses the capabilities of either alone. Robots using Artificial Intelligence (AI) along with computers will eventually be capable of "learning" how to perform complex tasks.

A number of telerobotic devices are currently under development. The Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is the lead NASA center for developing robots like the Flight Telerobotic Servicer which will assemble and service the Space Station. Similar projects are under way at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in support of crew activities and ground processing of STS. These devices will fetch tools and astronauts, perform hazardous launch duties, and even tend crops in orbiting gardens. Planetary rovers and walkers also are being designed both with wheels and leg-like appendages. They will have the technology to safely and autonomously transverse long distances on unfamiliar terrain.

On May 24, 1989, President George Bush spoke on America's space agenda for the 21st century. "I want to reaffirm my support for the quest to create a spacefaring civilization. That objective is not just our ambition, but our destiny..."NASA's work with robotics is sure to play and important role in that destiny.

For the Classroom

1. Have students research how robot arms and robotic spacecraft have assisted the United States space program through specific missions in space. Then assign one or more of the following activities:

* Create a picture storybook that illustrates the use of robots and robotics in space. Share it with younger students. * Create a data base of each of the space missions, including name, mission number, date, duration, crew members (if applicable), and robotic achievements. * Write a short report on the topic. * Prepare a bulletin board to share the information with others in your school

2. In 1920, Czechoslovakian writer Karel Capek invented the word "robot" in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). Robota, a Czech word, translates as forced labor, serf, slave, or drudgery. Find a copy of the play, and have students dramatize an excerpt from the script. Capek's robots eventually rebelled against their human masters to take over the world. Have students discuss why this is or is not likely to happen in reality.

3. Have a team of students create a mural that illustrates past and future accomplishment so robots in space.

4. Ask a team of students to create a diorama recreating the activity of the robot arm on on specific Space Shuttle mission.

5. Ask students to imagine that robot arms are readily available to consumers. Have students discuss or write about practical applications, describing specific task that could be accomplished more efficiently.

6. One of the biggest challenges in the field of robotics is reproducing the human senses of sight, sound, and touch in order to give robots practical mobility. William Whittaker, director of the Field Robotics laboratory at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, is currently working on one of the most promising mobile robots, the Ambler (short for Autonomous Mobile Robot). Ask students to find out more about this project and then discuss its applications for the future of both space exploration and daily life.

7. Have students investigate all the ways robots and robotics will be essential to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Space Station. Create a poster that illustrates these findings.

8. Computers are considered the "brains" of robots, and at this point, the exploration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the crux of robotics research. Have students find out more about the development of computers and then discuss this statement.

9. Research shows that spending prolonged periods in space places great stress on the human body. Have students research the effects of space on the cardiovascular, circulatory, and skeletal body systems. Then ask them to define Space Adaptation Syndrome (SAS). Lead a discussion on how using robots addresses these issues.

Recommended Reading

Curtis, Anthony R., Space Almanac. Woodsboro, Maryland: Arcsooft Publishers, 1989.

Fiermedal, Grant, "Telepresence," Final Frontier, July-August, 1990, pp. 227-31.

Freiherr, Greg, "Invasion of the Spacebots: NASA is looking for a few good machines." Air & Space, February/March, 1990. pp. 73-81.

Krasnoff, Barbara, Robots: Reel to Real, New York: Arco Publishing. 1982.

Scott, Peter B., The Robotics Revolution: The Complete Guide. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1984.

Storrs, Graham. The Robot Age. New York: The Bookwright Press.. 1985.

Washburn, Mark, "Goodbye, Voyager," Air & Space, December 1989/January 1990, pp. 38-48.

The Magnificent Lunar Lander

Movie of the Lunar Lander Morphing into a famous starship: (.mov) or (.avi).(595K)

From an editorial letter to AD ASTRA, Jun 1990: "Science fiction is not only the best way to predict the future, it has also helped to create the civilian space program. "Name any other method of attempting to forecast the future...including the work of professional scientists...Read their predictions five or ten years after they were written. Pitiful! Science fiction writers, on the other hand, have predicted virtually every aspect of our modern world - often 30 or more years before the events came to pass."

Ben Bova, Chairman, National Space Society Board

While not the only one, popular... science fiction clearly had an impact on the American space program, in the politics of space. If nothing else, science fiction created an interest in space among the majority of the American people and convinced them that going to the Moon would occur one day. In turn, President Kennedy, consciously or subconsciously, drew on the cultural images of adventure and exploration within science fiction to sell the Moon program to the nation.

Dr. L. Suid, "Space Travel: Fiction and Reality," SPACEFLIGHT, Vol. 31, July 1989, p. 232.

The Launch of the Apollo Saturn 5 Booster

Movie of a Saturn Apollo Launch: (.mov) or (.avi). (587K)

The Manned Flights of Apollo

Apollo 7 Saturn 1B October 11-12, 1968 Walter M. Schirra, Jr. Donn F. Eisele R. Walter Cunningham

10 days, 20 hours 163 Earth orbits. First manned CSM operations in lunar landing program. First live TV from manned spacecraft.

Apollo 8 Saturn V December 21-27, 1968 Frank Borman James A. Lovell, Jr. William A. Anders

06 days, 03 hours In lunar orbit 20 hours, with 10 orbits. First manned lunar orbital mission. Support facilities tested. Photographs taken of Earth and Moon. Live TV broadcasts.

Apollo 9 (Gumdrop and Spider) Saturn V March 03-13, 1969 James A. McDivitt David R. Scott Russell L. Schweickart

10 days, 01 hour First manned flight of all lunar hardware in Earth orbit. Schweickark performed 37 minutes EVA. Human reactions to space and weightlessness tested in 152 orbits. First manned flight of lunar module.

Apollo 10 (Charlie Brown and Snoopy) Saturn V May 18-26, 1969 Eugene A. Cernan John W. Young Thomas P. Stafford

08 days, 03 minutes Dress rehearsal for Moon landing. First manned CSM/LM operations in cislunar and lunar environ- ment; simulation of first lunar landing profile. In lunar orbit 61.6 hours, with 31 orbits. LM taken to within 15,243 m (50,000 ft) of lunar surface. First live color TV from space. LM ascent stage jettisoned in orbit.

Apollo 11 (Columbia and Eagle) Saturn V July 16-24, 1969 Neil A. Armstrong Michael Collins Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.

08 days, 03 hours, 18 minutes First manned lunar landing mission and lunar surface EVA. "HOUSTON, TRANQUILITY BASE HERE. THE EAGLE HAS LANDED."--July 20, Sea of Tranquility. 1 EVA of 02 hours, 31 minutes. Flag and in- struments deployed; unveiled plaque on the LM descent stage with inscription: "Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We Came In Peace For All Mankind." Lunar surface stay time 21.6 hours; 59.5 hours in lunar orbit, with 30 orbits. LM ascent stage left in lunar orbit. 20kg (44 lbs) of material gathered.

Apollo 12 (Yankee Clipper and Intrepid) Saturn V November 14-24, 1969 Charles Conrad, Jr. Richard F. Gordon, Jr. Alan L. Bean

10 days, 04 hours, 36 minutes Landing site: Ocean of Storms. Retrieved parts of the unmanned Surveyor 3, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967. Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) deployed. Lunar surface stay-time, 31.5 hours; in lunar orbit 89 hours, with 45 orbits. LM descent stage impacted on Moon. 34kg (75 lbs) of material gathered.

Apollo 13 (Odyssey and Aquarius) Saturn V April 11-17, 1970 James A. Lovell, Jr. John L. Swigert, Jr. Fred W. Haise, Jr.

05 days, 22.9 hours Third lunar landing attempt. Mission aborted after rupture of service module oxygen tank. Classed as "successful failure" because of experience in rescuing crew. Spent upper stage successfully impacted on the Moon.

Apollo 14 (Kitty Hawk and Antares) Saturn V January 31-Febraury 09, 1971 Alan B. Shepard, Jr. Stuart A. Roosa Edgar D. Mitchell

09 days Landing site: Fra Mauro. ALSEP and other instruments deployed. Lunar surface stay-time, 33.5 hours; 67 hours in lunar orbit, with 34 orbits. 2 EVAs of 09 hours, 25 minutes. Third stage impacted on Moon. 42 kg (94 lbs) of materials gathered, using hand cart for first time to transport rocks.

Apollo 15 (Endeavor and Falcon) Saturn V July 26-August 07, 1971 David R. Scott James B. Irwin Alfred M. Worden

12 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes Landing site: Hadley-Apennine region near Apennine Mountains. 3 EVAs of 10 hours, 36 minutes. Worden performed 38 minutes EVA on way back to Earth. First to carry orbital sensors in service module of CSM. ALSEP de- ployed. Scientific payload landed on Moon doubled. Improved spacesuits gave increased mobility and stay-time. Lunar surface stay- time, 66.9 hours. Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), electric-powered, 4-wheel drive car, traversed total 27.9 km (17 mi). In lunar orbit 145 hours, with 74 orbits. Small sub-satellite left in lunar orbit for first time. 6.6 kgs (169 lbs) of material gathered.

Apollo 16 (Casper and Orion) Saturn V April 16-27, 1972 John W. Young Thomas K. Mattingly II Charles M. Duke, Jr.

11 days, 01 hour, 51 minutes Landing site: Descartes Highlands. First study of highlands area. Selected surface experiments deployed, ultraviolet camera/spectrograph used for first time on Moon, and LRV used for second time. Lunar surface stay-time, 71 hours; in lunar orbit 126 hours, with 64 orbits. Mattingly performed 01 hour in-flight EVA. 95.8 kg (213 lbs) of lunar samples collected.

Apollo 17 (America and Challenger) Saturn V December 07-19, 1972 Eugene A. Cernan Ronald B. Evans Harrison H. Schmitt

12 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes Last lunar landing mission. Landing site: Taurus-Littrow, highlands and valley area. 3 EVAs of 22 hours, 04 minutes. Evans performed trans-Earth EVA lasting 01 hour 06 minutes. First scientist-astronaut to land on Moon, Schmitt. Sixth automated research station set up. LRV traverse total 30.5 km. Lunar surface stay-time, 75 hours. In lunar orbit 17 hours. 110.4 kg (243 lbs) of material gathered.

Deployment of a Shuttle Payload

Movie of a Shuttle payload deployment: (.mov) or (.avi).(306K)


The payload deployment and retrieval system includes the electromechanical arm that maneuvers a payload from the payload bay of the space shuttle orbiter to its deployment position and then releases it. It can also grapple a free-flying payload, maneuver it to the payload bay of the orbiter and berth it in the orbiter. This arm is referred to as the remote manipulator system.

The RMS is installed in the payload bay of the orbiter for those missions requiring it. payloads carried aboard the orbiter for deployment do not require the RMS.

The RMS is capable of deploying or retrieving payloads weighing up to 65,000 pounds. The RMS can also retrieve, repair and deploy satellites; provide a mobile extension ladder for extravehicular activity crew members for work stations or foot restraints; and be used as an inspection aid to allow the flight crew members to view the orbiter's or payload's surfaces through a television camera on the RMS.

The PDRS was built via an international agreement between the National Research Council of Canada and NASA. Spar Aerospace Ltd., a Canadian company, designed, developed, tested and built the RMS. CAE Electronics Ltd. in Montreal provides electronic interfaces, servoamplifiers and power conditioners. Dilworth, Secord, Meagher and Assoc. Ltd. in Toronto is responsible for the RMS end effector. Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division designed, developed, tested and built the systems used to attach the RMS to the payload bay of the orbiter.

The basic RMS configuration consists of a manipulator arm; an RMS display and control panel, including rotational and translational hand controllers at the orbiter aft flight deck flight crew station; and a manipulator controller interface unit that interfaces with the orbiter computer. Normally, only one RMS is installed on the left longeron of the orbiter payload bay. The RMS could be installed on the right side, but the orbiter Ku-band antenna would have to be removed to accommodate the RMS there. Two arms could be installed in the payload bay if the orbiter Ku-band antenna were removed, but only one arm could be operated at a time because only a single software package (computer program) and a single set of display and control panel hardware are provided at the flight deck aft control station. Electrical wiring is in the flight deck aft station for both arms.

One flight crew member operates the RMS from the aft flight deck control station, and a second flight crew member usually assists with television camera operations. This allows the RMS operator to view RMS operations through the aft flight deck payload and overhead windows and through the closed-circuit television monitors at the aft flight deck station.

The RMS arm is 50 feet 3 inches long and 15 inches in diameter and has six degrees of freedom. It weighs 905 pounds, and the total system weighs 994 pounds.

The RMS has six joints that correspond roughly to the joints of the human arm, with shoulder yaw and pitch joints; an elbow pitch joint; and wrist pitch, yaw and roll joints. The end effector is the unit at the end of the wrist that actually grabs, or grapples, the payload. The two lightweight boom segments are called the upper and lower arms. The upper boom connects the shoulder and elbow joints, and the lower boom connects the elbow and wrist joints. The RMS arm attaches to the orbiter payload bay longeron at the shoulder manipulator positioning mechanism. Power and data connections are located at the shoulder MPM.

The RMS can operate with standard or special-purpose end effectors. The standard end effector can grapple a payload, keep it rigidly attached as long as required and then release it. Special-purpose end effectors are designed by payload developers and installed instead of the standard end effector during ground turnaround. An optional payload electrical connector can receive electrical power through a connector located in the standard end effector.

The booms are made of graphite epoxy. They are 13 inches in diameter by 17 feet and 20 feet, respectively, in length and are attached by metallic joints. The composite in one arm weighs 93 pounds. The joint and electronic housings are made of aluminum alloy.

A shoulder brace relieves launch loads on the shoulder pitch gear train of the RMS. On orbit, the brace is released to allow RMS operations. It cannot be relatched on orbit, but it is not required that it be relatched for entry or landing loads.

Morph of Jack Swigert into Original Apollo 13 Crew Photo

Movie Astronaut Jack Swigert Replacing Astronaut Ken Mattingly in Official NASA Photo of the Apollo 13 Crew: (.mov) (1,885K)


Called "NASA's Finest Hour," the rescue of the stranded Apollo 13 astronauts the week of April 11-17, 1970 is unique in the history of manned spaceflight. Because original command module pilot T.K. Mattingly was exposed to measles, he was replaced a few days prior to launch by astronaut Jack Swigert. This left no time for another official crew photograph with Swigert instead of Mattingly. Through the technology of morphing, the above movie shows an altered official crew photo which includes the actual Apollo 13 command module pilot Jack Swigert.


NASA Pre-history
Columbus precursor mission from the old world to the new(1492),
Jules Verne prototype Apollo Spacecraft (1865),

Early Zero-g Concept (1956)

Original Mercury Astronauts Selected,
The Evolution of Manned Spacecraft (1961-1981),
First American,Alan Shepard, launched into space, May 5, 1961

JFK Rice Stadium Space Race Speech (September 12),
Who Will Win the Race to the Moon?,
"Godspeed, John Glenn."

Morph of original lunar lander design into later and final version

Start of Gemini Program (March),
Americans walk in space (June)

First Launch of Men to Walk on the Moon (July 16),
"Houston...the eagle has landed!" (July 20, 1969),
Man's First Step on the Moon (July 20),
The SECOND man on the Moon (July 20),
Man's First Flag on the Moon (July 20)

Rescue of Apollo 13(April 11-17),
Apollo 13 Crew Photo Morph

Man's First Golf Shot on the Moon (February ),
First Man Driven Moon Car, Apollo 15, (July-August),
Apollo 15 performs Galileo's Feather-Hammer experiment on Moon (July-August)

Launch of Space Shuttle (April)

Tragic Explosion of Challenger (January 28),
President Reagan's Challenger Eulogy (January 28),

Godspeed Again, John Glenn.

Honoring those who died on September 11th.

2002 and Beyond
Evolution of Apollo to a Star Ship

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Automation, Robotics and Simulation Division, Walter W. Guy, Chief.

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Notices: What You Need to Know About NASA JSC Web Policies

Last modified: Tuesday, 16-Oct-2006 01:30:00 PM CDT

Author: Jerry Woodfill / NASA, Mail Code ER7,

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Automation, Robotics and Simulation Division, Walter W. Guy, Chief.

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