Author Archives: asteitel

About asteitel

Space historian, blogger, and writer.

Landings and Launches

Landing a spacecraft isn’t easy, especially when you’re landing on another planet. Aside from the challenges of a remote landing (i.e. landing without astronauts on board) are the challenges presented by the target planet’s environment.  Mars is a great example. … Continue reading

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Not exactly Rocket Science

Before computers could generate predictions of how various spacecraft designs would fare, say, during a fiery reentry from space, NASA used some more basic methods. In selecting the ultimate design for the Mercury capsule, engineers used now-antiquated techniques. They dropped … Continue reading

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The Space Shuttle Era, Winding Down

The space shuttle Discovery is currently on its final mission. Only two more flight remain for the shuttle program as a whole – it will, in all likelihood, be finished by the end of the year. NASA anticipated great things … Continue reading

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Old Concepts of Life on Venus and Mars

I’ve recently posted about the pre-space age exploration of Venus and Mars. Both planets have an interesting history in the larger picture of man’s  understanding of the cosmos. The Victorian era is especially interesting – telescopes could discern surface features and increased knowledge of … Continue reading

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A Second Earth, Cosmonauts, and a Podcast

If you thought the proposals for a one-way trip to Mars were bizarre, what about proposals to terraform Mars – to turn it into a second Earth? More science fiction than fact? Perhaps. But the Canadian Terraforming Society has a … Continue reading

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A One-Way Ticket to Mars?

Men have long been fascinated with Mars. Historically, it has been thought of as a dead world, a planet teeming with life, as well as a dying world with little left save the vestiges of an intelligent and cooperative civilization. … Continue reading

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Sailors, Ships, and Splashdowns

I’ve previously posted on some of the main reasons why splashdowns were not a long-term solution to the problem of how to bring men home from space. One of the factors that incited NASA to pursue a land landing system … Continue reading

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Two Sides of the X-15

I recently published a two-part post exploring the X-15’s dual nature. It was at once the first space plane and a research aircraft. First proposed in 1954, the X-15 program’s primary goal was to gather data on the aerodynamics, structural … Continue reading

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Of Machines and Men

I recently published a post about the qualities that make up the perfect astronaut – the most physically and mentally fit men were the desired qualities of America’s first astronauts. The “strapping young Presbyterian lad” is certainly not the ideal … Continue reading

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Landings, NASA, and the Soviet Space Program

After publishing my previous post about NASA’s choice of using exclusively splashdowns landings during the space race, I realized that I had only told half the story. Part of what makes the NASA “splashdown v. land landing” story an interesting … Continue reading

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