Remembering Apollo 9 Launched March 3, 1969. Astronauts Jim McDivitt, Rusty Schweickart and Dave Scott, had a crucial mission: to fly the lunar module for the first time. This would be the first time a crew would be aboard the spacecraft. Human reactions to space and weightlessness were tested in 152 orbits.
R.I.P. Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, who passed away on February 19 in Colorado Springs at the age of 65.
Some facts about his amazing life and career:
Gardner’s most famous for going on a very risky spacewalk with fellow astronaut Joseph P. Allen in order to retrieve two wayward satellites (Palapa B-2 and the Westar 6) that had slipped into “useless orbits.” On the first EVA, Allen successfully attached the shuttle’s mechanical arm to the Palapa, but an obstruction prevented them from pulling the satellite into the cargo bay. As Allen guided the 1,200-pound behemoth into the bay, inertia made it almost crash into the shuttle. Gardner jumped into prevent the potential disaster.
While retrieving the 1,000-pound Westar, Gardner made a 35-foot spacewalk to connect it with the mechanical arm. Still, more manual labor was involved. Gardner said, “Move it very gently.” Allen’s reply: “Believe me, brother, there’s no other way to move it.”
After the deed was done, Commander Gardner posed for an iconic photo holding a “For Sale” sign. Fairly cheeky by NASA standards.
Gardner logged a total of 337 hours in space and made 225 orbits around the Earth on his two missions (STS-8 and STS-51-A).
When he zoomed into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on his second mission, it was November 8, 1984, his birthday. On the return trip, he piloted the Challenger to its first night landing.
He was valedictorian of his 1966 class at Savanna Community High School in Savanna, Illinois.
While serving in the Navy as a test pilot, he worked on the development of the F-14 Tomcat.
From the Navy he was selected for the astronaut corps. When the Challenger disaster disrupted his chances for a third flight into space, Gardner returned to active duty in the Navy and later worked with Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where he lived out his days.
As for Earth-based activities, Dale Gardner enjoyed snow skiing, tennis, golf, woodworking and photography.
Terry Virts (left), and Samantha Cristoforetti, attired in training versions of their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits, participate in a spacewalk training session in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL)
Artist’s concept paintings depicting the American and Soviet spacecrafts in Earth orbit during the July 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission.
The first docking of spacecraft from two different nations happened on July 17, 1975. The American and Soviet ASTP crewmen visited each other’s spacecraft while Apollo and Soyuz were docked for two days. The docking system on the Docking Module and the docking system on the Soyuz Orbital Module are designed to interface with each other.
Artists: Paul Fjeld (1-5), Davis Meltzer (6-8) and Robert McCall (9).
Project Mercury astronaut M. Scott Carpenter practices manual control of a spacecraft in the Air Lubricated Free Attitude (ALFA) trainer located at NASA’s Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. This trainer allows the astronaut to see the image of Earth’s surface at his feet while manually controlling the spacecraft. Carpenter has been selected as the prime pilot of the United States’ second orbital flight. (1961)