Programs

Mercury Program

  • The Mercury Program was the first American effort for humans to go into space.

  • Since these were NASA’s first few missions, astronauts knew they took a big risk by going to space.  Despite the risk, they had lots of courage because they wanted to help America in the space race.

  • Gordon Leroy Cooper of Shawnee, Oklahoma, was an astronaut for the Mercury program. He flew on the Faith 7 on May 15, 1963. Only one person could fit inside the spacecraft. The Faith 7 was the last and longest flight of all the Mercury missions. It flew around the Earth twenty-two times. At the end of the flight the automatic system failed, and Cooper used his pilot skills to get back to Earth safely.


Faith 7 mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Mercury Atlas 9, also called Faith 7, launching, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Drawing of the Mercury Capsule. Only one astronaut could fit in the capsule.
Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

 

Gemini Program

  • This was the second phase of the space program. The program’s purpose was to study and prepare to go to the moon. NASA wanted to see if humans could survive long enough in space and in a spacesuit outside of the spaceship. The spacecraft for this program allowed two people to fly in the spacecraft.

  • Leroy Gordon Cooper of Shawnee, Oklahoma, commanded the Gemini 5. It launched on August 21, 1965. It helped prove people can live in space at least eight days, which is long enough to fly to the moon.

  • Thomas Stafford flew in the Gemini 6-A that launched on December 15, 1965. He and Walter Schirra flew within a foot of the Gemini 7 to prove spacecraft could fly close together space, which was necessary for flying to the moon.

  • Thomas Stafford flew again in the Gemini 9-A after the original crew died in a plane crash. The spacecraft launched on June 3, 1966. When the other astronaut’s helmet fogged over, Stafford saved the man’s life by talking him back inside. This flight helped NASA fix unexpected problems before going to the moon.


Gemini 5 mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Gemini 6 mission patch Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Gemini 9 mission patch. Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Gemini space suit used for testing (L203, loan from Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Inc., Oklahomans and Space, Oklahoma History Center).


Gemini 9 spacecraft launch, 1966. (22311.S-66-34098, Jerry Elliott Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division).

 

Apollo Program

  • With the Apollo program, humans would land on the moon for the first time. On Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people on the moon when they landed on July 20, 1969.

  • Thomas Stafford was the commander on Apollo 10 that launched May 18, 1969. The crew of the Apollo 10 orbited the moon.

  • Stuart Roosa from Claremore, Oklahoma, was the command module pilot for Apollo 14, which launched January 31, 1971. Apollo 14 went to the moon successfully.

  • Thomas Stafford of Weatherford, Oklahoma, was the commander for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which launched July 15, 1975. This was the first mission where Americans and Soviets worked together for the first time, which helped lead to the end of the Cold War.


Apollo 10 mission patch Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Apollo 13 mission patch, = Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Apollo 14 mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Apollo-Soyuz mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


The Saturn 1-B rocket launching the Apollo-Soyuz mission
(18220.l2.o, Jerry Elliott Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division).


Commemorative plaque to symbolize cooperation between US and Soviet Union.
Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

 

Skylab Program


Skylab Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

  • Skylab was America’s first space station. It launched on May 14, 1973, and orbited the Earth until July 11, 1979.

  • Owen Garriott of Enid, Oklahoma, was the scientist pilot for Skylab 3, which launched July 28, 1973. He and the crew did experiments and made repairs.

  • William Pogue from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, was the command module pilot for the Skylab 4, which launched November 16, 1973. Pogue participated in two spacewalks.


Skylab 3 mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Skylab 4 Mission Patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

 

Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station


Space shuttle Columbia, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

  • The space shuttle was America’s first reusable spacecraft. NASA built five and two were lost in accidents. This program made many different and important achievements.

  • Owen Garriott became the first person to operate a HAM radio from space on the STS-9 mission, which launched November 28, 1983.

  • Shannon Lucid flew on many shuttle missions and spent a lot of time on the International Space Station.

  • John Herrington performed three spacewalks while on the STS-113 mission which launched on the shuttle Endeavor on November 23, 2002.


STS-9 Patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Mission patch from STS -34, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

Mission patch from STS-113, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

 


Space shuttle launch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

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