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July 9, 2012 - Now We Need a Bug

Now We Need a Bug Fifty years ago this week, NASA decided how to get to the Moon. Two possible methods, Direct Ascent and Earth Orbit Rendezvous, involved launching a massive rocket (or two smaller rockets that would join up in Earth orbit) toward the Moon, landing, and then blasting off for Earth. But the powerful boosters and orbiting support facilities required for these methods could not be built in time. An obscure but elegant third solution, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, finally won. LOR called for a Lunar Excursion Module (known as “the Bug”) to ferry astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface, and back again to the waiting Command Module. The Lunar Excursion Module Simulator, seen here, was suspended by cables and allowed Apollo astronauts to practice landing on the lunar surface.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

July 9-15, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 9

Venus 0.9° north of Aldebaran

1945: White Sands Missile Range opens
1979: Voyager 2 flies past Jupiter

Moon phase Tuesday 10

Uranus 5° south of Moon
Last Quarter Moon 9:48 PM ET

1962: Telstar 1 launched, allowing transatlantic transmission of TV signals
1992: Giotto spacecraft flies past comet Grigg-Skjellerup

Moon phase Wednesday 11

1962: NASA selects lunar orbit rendezvous method for lunar landings
1969: X-24A lifting body rolled out for first time
1979: Skylab reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Thursday 12

Venus greatest illuminated extent

1966: First glide test of M2-F2 lifting body
2000: Zvezda Service Module launched to ISS
2001: STS-104 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Friday 13

Moon at apogee
Uranus appears stationary

1995: STS-70 Discovery launched

Moon phase Saturday 14

Mercury appears stationary
Jupiter 0.5° south of Moon

1965: Mariner 4 completes first successful flyby of Mars
1967: Surveyor 4 launched

Moon phase Sunday 15

Venus 4° south of Moon

1975: Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (Apollo 18) launched, last Apollo mission
2004: Aura satellite launched
2009: STS-127 Endeavour launched
2012: Soyuz TMA-05M launched carrying ISS Expedition 32/33 crew

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.