Top 10 coolest facts about space missions

21 noviembre 2007

1. Ivanovich's flight

A dummy cosmonaut named "Ivan Ivanovich" (the Russian equivalent of "John Doe") flew into space twice. These test flights cleared the way for Yuri Gagarin's first flight around the earth on 12 April 1961. To prevent any confusion by peasants who might recover Ivan and think he was a dead cosmonaut or an alien, a sign reading 'MAKET' ('dummy' in Russian) was placed under his visor. [1]

2. Duct tape in space

NASA engineers and astronauts have used duct tape on many occasions in the course of their work, including in some emergency situations. One such usage occurred in 1970, when the square carbon dioxide filters from Apollo 13's failed. A workaround was made using duct tape, saving the astronauts lives. In a 2001 NASA manual for spaceflight operations aboard the International Space Station, duct tape is even called for in case of "acute psychosis" during a space mission; NASA procedures call for the use of duct tape to restrain the affected astronaut. [1] [2]

3. A pee for Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in Space, took off from Baikonur. Ever since, men about to leave the Earth from the Russian cosmodrome follow certain little rituals in memory of the Soviet hero. For example, a few minutes before climbing into the launcher, they stop off for a quick pee, just as Gagarin did before his historic flight. [1]

4. The smell of Moon

All of the Apollo astronauts said moondust smell like burnt gunpowder. Curiously, back on Earth, moondust has no smell. There are hundreds of pounds of moondust at the Lunar Sample Lab in Houston, but it doesn't smell like gunpowder. Scientist believe that dusto lost its properties in the Earth and it just smell on the Moon. [1]

5. Greatest distance from Earth

The Apollo 13 mission set a record for the greatest distance from Earth ever achieved by mankind. This occurred because unlike the other Apollos, Apollo 13 did not make a burn behind the moon to drop into lunar orbit. The free-return trajectory the mission followed took the spacecraft farther behind the moon than any other mission. They were 400,171 km from Earth. [1]

6. Space sandwich

In 1962, astronaut John Young, as pilot of Gemini 3, smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the spacecraft, a feat for which he was reprimanded. The controversy over the sandwich resulted in an investigation by NASA into what objects were carried aboard the spacecraft and why. [1]

7. The Overview effect

On February 7th 1971, astronaut Ed Mitchell was rocketing through space between the Earth and the Moon when something very odd happened... A feeling of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He instantly and profoundly felt the understanding of his constituent atoms as having been born in the fires of ancient supernovas. Well over 30 astronauts and cosmonauts have described a strange, nirvana-like phenomenon that can occur suddenly during space travel, which is collectively referred to as the “Overview Effect”, which has broadened their own understanding of our connection to space. [1]

8. The "Moon Trees"

Stuart Roosa orbited the Moon in Apollo 14 mission (January, 1971). Packed in small containers in Roosa's personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds, part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the Forest Service. Known as the "Moon Trees", the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States and the world. Believed locations of some Moon Trees are listed, but no list was ever kept nor any systematic tracking made of the disposition of all the trees. [1]

9. The fastest men ever

According to the 2001 Guinness World Records Apollo 10 has the record for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle: 39,897 km/h (11.08 km/s or 24,791 mph). The speed record was set during the return from the Moon on 26 May 1969. [1]

10. A simulated Moon

A few years before the first landing of an Apollo crew on the moon, scientists recontoured a volcanic field just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, with artificial impact craters resembling those found on Mare Tranquillitatis, the proposed first manned American landing site. With high explosives, they terraformed a lunar surrogate right here on the surface of the earth. [1]

See also: Top 10 Most amazing facts about the Earth