Thirty years ago, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. The tragedy shocked a nation caught in launch fever, and reshaped how NASA thought about risk.
Today was supposed to mark a step forward in human flights for the Apollo program. Instead, flames exploded inside the capsule during a pre-flight test. The fatal accident changed the nature of America’s space program.
How do you grow more food? One answer that makes sense is with bigger farms and more farmers. But if you look at the last half century-or-so worth of data, that’s not at all what’s been happening.
This week was full of lessons. Lesson One: Never trust an astronaut. Lesson Two: Everyone loves flowers. Lesson Three: We’ve grown a lot of plants in space.
When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. Oregon’s founding is part of the forgotten history of racism in the…
On the 23rd and 24th of January, 1930, a young astronomer working in Flagstaff, Arizona, scanned a small patch of the night sky. He was taking pictures of star positions, looking for anomalies that would signal movement somewhere at the edge of the solar system. He took the pictures then set them aside, not realizing…
When I decided to wait outside the Ziegfeld Theater in May 2002 for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, I hoped to be part of history. That happened—but it wasn’t how I expected.
On December 14, 1972, astronaut Eugene Cernan stepped up onto the lunar module, shook the moon dust off these boots, and ended an era of human exploration of the Moon.
On December 11, 1972, Apollo 17 touched down on the Moon. This was not only our final Moon landing, but the last time we left low Earth orbit. With the successful launch of the Orion capsule, NASA is finally poised to go further again. So it’s important to remember how we got to the Moon — and why we stopped going.
The Paris climate summit may go down in history as the singular moment nations decided to tackle the threat of anthropogenic climate change. But few of us appreciate the fact that it’s taken over a century to arrive at a global consensus on the science.
Astronaut John Glenn was one of the Mercury Seven, the first Americans trained for spaceflight. Before Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Friendship 7 mission on February 20, 1962, he went through a lot of training.
The most important part of running a spacecraft on the heat from radioactive decay is to make sure the it’s actually decaying before you send it to space. All four of Cassini’s radioisotope thermoelectric generators underwent testing before the spacecraft was launched in 1997.
Every geologist needs a field hat to protect them from scorching sun and drenching rain, but a really lucky geologist will have a trusty dog. Meet the adventurous dogs who trekked across north Alaska, and the geologists who explored with them.
It’s one of the most tantalizing rumors on the internet. Aleister Crowley, one of the most famous masters of the occult ever, was secretly the father of Barbara Bush—and thus, also the grandfather of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush. Is it true? Do we care?
Are you flying through LGA, ATL, or ORD today? It turns out each of these airports has a bizarre and little-known backstory.
April 1972: The fourth pair of astronauts to visit the moon were the most enthusiastic geologists, bringing home the largest sample ever collected from the moon.
How powerful was the Saturn rocket that boosted the Apollo missions into low Earth orbit? So powerful even the models for the Saturn rocket boosters produced hundreds of pounds of thrust for every engine.
The Zapruder film may be the most famous footage taken of the Kennedy assassination, but it’s not the only one. The “Nix Film” may be lesser known, but it’s no less important. It has been missing for decades, so the granddaughter of the photographer who captured the film is now suing the US government. She wants it…
It’s not just paper. From the first notes issued by the Continental Congress to the latest star-spangled bills released by the Federal Reserve, the history of money in America is laced with rebellion, propaganda, and—of course—lots and lots of wealth. It’s awkwardly beautiful.
Two spacecraft drifted closer to one another far above planet Earth, as they prepared to dock. It was July 17th, 1975, and they were about to make history. For the first time, a United States Apollo and Soviet Union Soyuz spacecraft would dock with one another, an enormously symbolic mission that served as a small…