Jun 13

Space Rocket History #16 – Astronaut Candidates

Candidates were given continuous psychiatric interviews throughout the week, and extensive self-examination through a battery of 13 psychological tests for personality and motivation, and another dozen different tests on intellectual functions and special aptitudes–these were all part of the Week of Truth at Dayton.

Two of the more interesting personality and motivation studies seemed like parlor games at first, until it became evident how profound an exercise in Socratic introspection was implied by conscientious answers to the test questions “Who am I?” and “Whom would you assign to the mission if you could not go yourself?” In the first case, by requiring the subject to write down 20 definitional identifications of himself, ranked in order of significance, and interpreted protectively, the psychologists elicited information on identity and perception of social roles. In the peer ratings, each candidate was asked which of the other members of the group of five accompanying him through this phase of the program he liked best, which one he would like to accompany him on a two-man mission, and whom he would substitute for himself. Candidates who had proceeded this far in the selection process all agreed with one who complained, “Nothing is sacred any more.”

Scott Cent
GPN Centrifuge

Jun 06

Space Rocket History #15 – Sputnik 3 & Luna 1

The launch vehicle for the Luna E-1 series was a modified R7 named Vostok.  The Vostok had three stages.  The first and second stage were the standard R-7 which we covered in Episode 9.  A 5.1 meter long by 2.4 meter diameter third stage was added to the top of the R-7.  The third stage weighed 1472 kg and was capable of delivering 54.5 kiloNewtons or 12,252 lbs of thrust.  This was the probes booster stage that gave it enough speed to escape Earth’s gravity.


Sputnik 3




Luna 1

Vostok - 8K72K


May 23

Space Rocket History #13 – Explorer 1 – Juno 1

At approximately 12:48 a.m. EST, the first listening stations began reporting that they had received radio signals from the “Explorer” satellite. The first station to confirm the signals was the San Gabriel Valley Amateur Radio Club near Pasadena, California.  However, ABMA officials were waiting for confirmation from the Goldstone radio tracking station in Earthquake Valley, California.  Finally, 1 hour and 57 minutes after launch the confirmation was finally relayed to ABMA officials in the form of the simple phrase, “Goldstone has the bird!”


Explorer 1 – Jupiter C Launch


On the Pad




Explorer 1 Satellite



Van Allen



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Explorer 1 Satellite


Pickering, Van Allen, Von Braun Holding Satellite

206607main_launch-516 206601main_explorer-stand-516

May 09

Space Rocket History #11 – Sputnik 2 – Laika: The Space Dog

Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit and was the first to launch a living creature. The satellite was a 4 meter high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters. It contained several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, a regeneration and temperature control system for the cabin, and scientific instruments. A separate sealed cabin contained the first space passenger Laika, the space dog. Engineering and biological data were transmitted by the telemetry system to Earth for 15 minutes of each 103 minute orbit.  Two spectrophotometers were on board for measuring solar radiation and cosmic rays. A television camera was mounted in the passenger compartment to observe Laika.

Laika Stamp Laika Laika-Sputnik-2 sputnik-2 sputnik2_design_1 Sputnik2_vsm

Laika, 1957 from KC Giessen on Vimeo.