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In 1973 the US was finally able to launch their own space station to counter the Soviet's Salyut.
This station was dubbed Skylab.
Skylab was built using the shell of the 3rd stage of a Saturn V rocket. The station as designed (lower picture) was to have 2 solar arrays, a telescope, and docking ports for 2 Apollo spacecraft.
However, during launch there were a series of malfunctions. The micrometeorite shield was ripped off from aerodynamic strain, and with it came a solar array. The other solar array was pinned to the side. The station was badly in need of help, but what could they do to rescue the station?
That job would be up to the first team of astronauts on the station.
The Skylab II mission.
The build below is my mini figure-scale Skylab. I was going to submit it, but according to the moderators it interfered with the NASA Apollo IP.
The final mission to the moon. The Apollo program was originally going to have an Apollo 18 and 19 (and they had already produced the CSM, lunar lander, and Saturn V for these) but NASA underwent budget cuts, and Apollo 17 was now to be the Swan Song for the Apollo lunar program.
The mission had many firsts, it was the first mission to have a civilian geologist aboard (Schmitt) and first to have a roadside repair in space. During deployment the Rover's fender was ripped off, and whenever the astronaut's drove it moon dust would be kicked up by the rover's tires and into the astronaut's faces.
To fix this they used a topographical map and some duct tape. And it worked! They were able to make the last mission one for the books.
And after all their EVAs at least it was time to go home. Gene Cernan was the last to enter the capsule, making him the last man to step foot on the moon.
And when the Lunar Module took off for a final time the camera on the front of the rover was finally able to capture it lifting off.
And for half a century the moon has remained untouched by human hands. Explored only by robotic satellites mapping its surface and occasionally landers touching down to make a survey.
But NASA's Artemis program now offers a glimmer of hope. Promising to send humans to the moon in 2024. Once again our horizons will have grown. And our rockets will be pointed to Mars.
Apollo 16 was the second of the J-type missions. Apollo 16 ended in the Descartes highlands. An area chosen because many thought it was an area formed by volcanic activity, though, to the chagrin of geologists and the astronauts, it wasn't. No rocks of volcanic origins could be found. However, the mission was still able to provide valuable scientific information about the region.
Apollo 16 would be the penultimate mission. And now the Apollo program would come to a bittersweet end with Apollo 17.
The Apollo 15 mission was the first of the J-type missions. Longer duration stays on the moon and more focus on science.
It was also the first mission to use a lunar rover to explore greater distances on the moon.
It performed many experiments and brought back valuable lunar soil samples, But the most famous mission is the one that mission commander Dave Scott did at the end of his last moonwalk. Broadcasted on TV, he demonstrated the moons lower gravity and how there is no atmosphere by dropping both a hammer and a feather. Both hitting the ground at the same time. Sometimes the most simple experiments can have the most captivating results.
Apollo 14 was the first mission to land on the moon since the failure of Apollo 13. It was also the last of the H-type short duration lunar missions.
The Apollo 14 landed in the lunar highlands and had a plethora of experiments to deploy on the moon.
The mission was made almost entirely of rookies, with the exception being Alan Shepherd, the first American in space. Who was finally able to go back to space after surgery on his inner ear.
Another first was the first game of golf in space. Shepherd brought a golf club head that attached to the end of one of the lunar collection tools and was able to bring it with him. playing the first game of golf on the moon.
Now that the short duration missions were over, now for the long duration missions. starting with Apollo 15.
The Apollo 13 mission is probably one of the most famous of the Apollo missions. Not because they landed on the moon.
But because they didn't.
2 days into their journey, just as they were about to get some sleep they were told to give the liquid oxygen tanks a stir.
Nobody could've foreseen the defect in the liquid oxygen tank though, and that's when everything went awry. Swigert then uttered the forever immortal line "Houston, we've had a problem."
The tank exploded, the spacecraft began losing power, they had to shut down the CSM to preserve power and move to the Lunar Module.
The trip was harrowing, thee was so much room for error that some thought they wouldn't come home. But with some help from the experts at ground control mixed with gut instinct and nerves of steel, all three astronauts were able to make it back to earth safely.
Apollo 12 was the second moon landing, landing in Surveyor crater and spending 3 times longer on the surface of the moon than Apollo 11.
The mission got off to a shaky start when their Saturn V was struck by lightning twice upon launch. Luckily a flight controller's extensive knowledge of switches in the Apollo CSM meant that he was able to save the spacecraft from having to perform an abort.
Their main mission (and the reason the crater was named) was to find the Surveyor 3. A robotic lander which was sent to the crater years earlier. The crew found the Surveyor and brought the camera back to earth. This mission proved that a mission could reliably land at their designated site.
Aside from these amazing accomplishments, Crewmember Al Bean later became a famous painter, painting moonscapes and scenes from his mission. And he used pieces of his suit which contained moon dust to texture his paintings. Meaning that each one of his works of art contain actual pieces of the moon.
Apollo 11. The mission that would define all of NASA's achievements. One of mankind's greatest accomplishments.
The crew was made up of three of the best and most exceptional astronauts that had flown in the Gemini program. These astronauts would keep a cool head when things got tough and were devoted to completing their mission.
And devoted they were. During the descent they found that the landing zone was too rocky to land on an that the LM's computer was becoming overloaded. But with only seconds of fuel left they fount a suitable landing site. Where they radioed back "Houston, Tranquility Base here, The Eagle has landed!"
There was applause in mission control. They had finally done it. What furthermore completed the mission was Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon. The scene was broadcast live to earth and filmed on an external camera on the LM. Forever immortalizing the moment were his words "That's One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind"
After several hours f surveying the crew scooped up samples and headed back to earth.
The mission was completed, But the Apollo program was not over yet.
Apollo 10 was to be the full "dress rehearsal" for a lunar landing. accomplishing everything a lunar mission would apart from landing. The LM (Snoopy) separated from the CSM (Charlie Brown) and went as close as 60 miles from the moon's surface. Many ask "why didn't they just land?" Many in NASA at the time asked the same time, and in retrospect they could have. However, there were many unknowns and they wanted at least 2 successful moon orbiting missions before attempting a landing.
Apollo 10 was classified a success. And after would come the most legendary mission of them all. Apollo 11.
Apollo 9 was the first manned test of the Lunar Module.
Carried out in earth orbit. This was also the first time since Gemini 3 that spacecraft were given individual names. Since two craft were in space, it was felt that they should have callsigns (CSM was Gumdrop, and the LM was Spider. Rather fitting.) to ease in communication.
Also practiced in this mission was the emergency LM entry from the CSM's hatch should the docking tunnel fail.
The mission, while forgotto, was an important test, and now it was time for a full dress rehearsal for the lunar landing. Apollo 10.