Oklahomans and Space
There are Oklahoma fingerprints everywhere throughout the exploration of outer space. Oklahoma astronauts have flown in each phase of the space program and no other state can claim that. Oklahoma scientists and engineers have helped design and send robotic probes to all of the planets in the solar system.
Oklahoma astronauts include:
Leroy Gordon Cooper of Shawnee, Oklahoma
Thomas P. Stafford of Weatherford, Oklahoma
Fred Haise of University of Oklahoma and the Air Guard
Stuart Roosa of Claremore, Oklahoma
Dr. Owen Garriott of Enid, Oklahoma
William Pogue of Okemah, Oklahoma
Dr. Shannon Lucid of Bethany, Oklahoma
John Herrington of Wetumka, Oklahoma
Numerous Oklahomans worked behind the scenes to get us to the Moon and beyond. Many worked in Mission Control in Houston. Others at the Cape, Huntsville's Marshal Space Flight Center, NASA Ames Research Center in San Jose, the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and NASA contractors throughout the country.
Reaching for the planets, space probes have visited both the inner planets and the giant outer planets. Mariner went to Venus and Mercury, the rovers and orbiters at Mars, Voyager and Galileo at Jupiter, Voyager and Cassini at Saturn, and Voyager at Uranus and Neptune. Currently, Juno is headed to Jupiter and New Horizons is on its way to Pluto. On all of these space probes, Oklahoma scientists and engineers were there designing the mission or working on the spacecraft and its experiments.
An Oklahoma Historical Society publication by Bill Moore, Oklahomans and Space is a 278-page hard bound coffee table book available from the OHS Museum store. By Summer of 2014, an 8-disc DVD set will be available with the interviews of these special Oklahomans who have taken us along for the ride into space, to the Moon, to the planets and beyond.
Now Available in the Online Store
Oklahomans and Space Documentary Series
This 7-part series will present the history of the space program through the stories of the Oklahomans who participated in it. Astronauts, engineers, scientists, reporters and others recall those wonderful days of adventure. NASA footage and photos along with recently discovered long-lost film help bring the story alive.
Where to Watch
OETA-TV, the PBS Affiliate in Oklahoma, will air the entire series on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. from June 3 through July 22 (with the exception of June 24.)
- "How It All Started"
The days before the first satellite, Sputnik, to the Tulsa Peaceful Uses of Space Conference in May 1961 are covered in this program, including discussions by U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, NASA Administrator James Webb, Eisenhower Advisor Bryce Harlow, Kerr Press Secretary John Martin Meek, Senate Space Committee Clerk Carter Bradley, Tulsa's Harold Stuart and President John F. Kennedy.
- "Research and Development"
In the second program, Shawnee, Oklahoma's Leroy Gordon Cooper discusses his Mercury and Gemini flights covered in this program along with Oklahoma engineers hard at work to develop America's spacecraft. As the space program begins to grow and pick up momentum, Oklahomans and Oklahoma businesses are doing their part to move the program along.
- "To The Moon"
Weatherford, Oklahoma's Thomas P. Stafford discusses his Gemini 6 and 9 flights, as well as his Apollo 10 trip to the Moon. Each of these missions are critical to the success of President Kennedy's challenge for America to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Gemini 6 must prove rendezvous in space is possible, Gemini 9 must show what we need to do to be successful in our EVA activities, and Apollo 10 must lay out and follow the path while preparing the way for Apollo 11 and the first moon landing two months later.
- "Living and Working in Space"
Fred Haise, University of Oklahoma grad and OK Air Guard pilot flew Apollo 13 as Lunar Module pilot. He discusses what happened during that famous mission where the three astronauts were in a life and death struggle to return to Earth. Stuart Roosa from Claremore, Oklahoma, flew as Command Module pilot on the Apollo 14 moon landing mission. Oklahoma engineers who were involved with all of the Moon flights discuss what it was like.
- "The First Space Station and Détente"
Skylab was America's first space station, hosting three different crews. Two of those crews had an Oklahoman on board. Owen Garriott from Enid, Oklahoma flew on the second Skylab mission. William Pogue, born in Okemah, Oklahoma, flew the final Skylab mission. The Apollo Soyuz Test Project paved the way for International flights of the future, commanded by Thomas Stafford. Fred Haise paved the way for Shuttle by commanding the landing tests of the Enterprise shuttle test vehicle.
- "The Shuttle and the ISS"
Owen Garriott flew STS-9 on the first mission of Spacelab which was placed in the cargo bay of the shuttle. Shannon Lucid, who also flew shuttle, set records on her four missions, as well as participating in the Russian Mir Space Station through a U.S./Russian agreement. John Herrington, first Native American in space, helped construct the ISS by adding the P-1 Truss built in Tulsa. The Truss held solar panels on one side of the station.
- "To The Planets and Beyond"
Oklahomans have been involved with space probes exploring all of the planets in the Solar System. The early exploration of Mercury and Venus began with Mariner 10. The Mars landers and orbiters of the past 40 years, beginning with Viking to today's Mars Global Surveyor, were all influenced one way or another by Oklahomans at JPL and NASA contractors. The outer planets were explored by Voyager, Galileo and Cassini, each mission touched by an Oklahoman. Even now, several Oklahomans at NASA are planning our future missions in space.