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March 3, 2014 - Spider and Gumdrop

Spider and Gumdrop Apollo 9 was an especially dangerous spaceflight, because for the first time in history astronauts would fly in a spacecraft that was not designed to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. During this Earth-orbital mission, launched forty-five years ago this week, two of the three Apollo 9 crew transferred from the Command/Service Module Gumdrop into the new Lunar Module Spider. The Lunar Module was only designed to operate in the vacuum of space, either in orbit or on the lunar surface, so it had no way to return to Earth. Once Spider separated from Gumdrop, they had to reunite successfully or the astronauts inside Spider would eventually perish. In this rare image of a Lunar Module in Earth orbit, Spider flies free for the first time. The two spacecraft rejoined successfully several hours later.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

March 3-9, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 3

Uranus 2° south of Moon

1959: Pioneer 4 launched
1969: Apollo 9 launched

Tuesday 4

1979: Jupiter’s rings discovered
1994: STS-62 Columbia launched

Wednesday 5

Ash Wednesday

Vesta appears stationary

1512: Gerardus Mercator born
1978: Landsat 3 launched
1979: Voyager 1 flies by Jupiter
1982: Venera 14 lands on Venus, returns color photos of Venus’s surface

Thursday 6

Jupiter appears stationary

1787: Joseph Fraunhofer born
1986: Vega 1 flies by Halley’s Comet
2009: Kepler Observatory launched

Friday 7

1792: John Herschel born
1837: Henry Draper born
1962: OSO-1 launched
1969: Apollo 9 astronauts complete first solo flight of lunar module

Saturday 8

First Qtr Moon 8:27 AM ET

1979: Active volcanoes found on Io
2001: STS-102 Discovery launched
2007: Orbital Express launched
2008: First Automated Transfer Vehicle launched

Moon phase Sunday 9

Daylight Savings Time begins 2:00am

1564: David Fabricius born
1961: Sputnik 9 launched
1986: Vega 2 flies by Halley’s Comet

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