History may not immediately spring to mind as a hobby
but in fact it is a very popular one. History buffs
typically have a particular period of interest, such
as the American Civil War or Wild West period, and obsessively
learn everything about it.
Space history buffs are no exception. They spend innumerable
hours reading about space history events such as the
Space Race, and pride themselves
on knowing not only the important facts but also the
that makes the period come alive. They try to visit
as many of the relevant
historical sites as possible. Collecting memoribilia
of the time is often a symptom as well.
Space historian Dwayne Day notes that amateurs have
long made significant contributions to the study of
Soviet and Russian space history:
The field of Soviet—now Russian—space history has
always been relatively small. It has also been dominated
by amateurs, meaning people who do not get paid as
historians or have graduate-level academic training
in history or related fields. Part of the constraint
on the study of Soviet space history was due to extreme
Soviet secrecy. When virtually every satellite that
the Soviet Union launched flew under the deliberately
bland designation of “Cosmos,” it was hard to apply
standard research tools and training to studying Soviet
activities. As a result, for years the study of Soviet
space activities was akin to detective work using
very limited clues, and the people who dominated the
study were usually amateur sleuths. Of course, during
the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies also studied
Soviet capabilities. They had greater resources, but
often resorted to many of the same techniques as the
amateurs. - Cosmos
unmasked: studying Soviet and Russian space history
in the 21st century - The Space Review - June.26.06
There are certainly many periods and topics for the
space history buff to explore. The history of modern
rocketry and space exploration intertwines closely with
many of the most dramatic political and technological
developments of the 20th century.
See the other topics page
for suggestions on space history subjects to explore.
Space exploration has had great impact on many individuals,
especially during the space race beginning in the late
1950's. We include here a list of Personal
Space Histories for those who have a web page dedicated
to their own space experiences.
NASA Marshall Spaceflight
Center in Huntsville, Alabama has played a major role
in the history of spaceflight. Led during the 1960's by
Werner Von Braun, MSFC was responsible for the development
of the Saturn rockets. This site is a rich source of not
only the history of MSFC but of NASA and spaceflight history
& Planetary Exploration Timeline
(National Space Science Data Center) provides this "list
of a known (successful and unsuccessful) lunar and planetary
missions including a few historical missions which were
instrumental in the development and evolution of space
See also the individual lunar
timeline and Mars
... Excel spreadsheet form. The workbook, which
contains a separate worksheet for each year, has swollen
to some two megabytes, as it contains a separate row
for each payload launched (with Starlink and CubeSats,
the annual log lists have gotten rather long).
The log is provided as "a free service for
all space enthusiasts, buffs, and hobbyists".
The log is available in .xlsx files to use with Microsoft
Excel for the Web or for downloading.
"a summary page for each manned spaceflight
project, of both the United States and Russia, and
linked pages that include details of each and every
individual mission. But before going to the directory,
you might want to check out the comparison drawings
below. Each thumbnail is linked to a 640x480 JPEG
file (about 60kb each). Each individual spacecraft
was scanned from published line art and then scaled,
cleaned up, and colorized with Photofinish."
Force Space and Missile Museum
Located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the museum "preserves
both the hardware and the spirit of United States' ventures
into space. The museum displays numerous missiles, rockets
and related space equipment".
This well designed site covers the development of space
technology from from early rocketry to the shuttle program.
Includes not only the US and Russia but discusses space
efforts of many other countries as well.
& Russian Space History
Here are sites dedicated to the massive N1 rocket that
would have propelled cosmonauts to the moon if it had
- the Association of Experimental Rocketry of the
Pacific built a detailed 22 ft model rocket of the
Soviet N1 moon rocket, including 42 first stage motors.
The successful 3
stage launch on July 21, 2001 reached 1650 ft.
Site includes lots of historica info on the N1.
First Manned Spaceflight:
Yuri Gagarin - April 12, 1961
In 2011 there were celebrations of the 50th anniversary
of the first human flight to space. There were many
articles and commentaries leading up to the 50th anniversary
of the event.
- Soviet and Russian Space Information
Soviet and Russian space history is here presented by
Robert Christy. 'Zarya' means 'dawn' in Russian and was
used as Yuri Gagarin's call sign and is the name of the
first element of the International Space Stations.
in the 1950's with small sounding rockets, the Japanese
space program has developed into one of the largest
and most ambitious in the world. They set long term
goals and methodically moved towards them in incremental
Today Japan has
developed a world class launch vehicle, the HA-II. A
vigorous space science program has launched scientific
payloads to the moon and Mars. A reusable vehicle, HOPE,
is under development and there is a strong hypersonics
There are some eccentricities
in the Japanese space program that grew out of post-war
society and politics. Rocket launches, for example,
are restricted to short periods of the year due to objections
from a small, but politically powerful, fishing lobby
that claims that the noise bothers the fish and that
falling boosters might hit their boats.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is the national
space agency of Japan. It was created in 2003 from the
combination of NASDA (National Space Development Agency
of Japan), which had previously carried out national
space projects, ISAS (Institute of Space and Aeronautical
Science), which grew out of university research, and
the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL).
".. is a record of the lunar surface operations
conducted by the six pairs of astronauts who landed
on the Moon from 1969 through 1972. The Journal is
intended as a resource for anyone wanting to know
what happened during the missions and why. It includes
a corrected transcript of all recorded conversations
between the lunar surface crews and Houston. The Journal
also contains extensive, interwoven commentary by
the Editor and by ten of the twelve moonwalking astronauts."
15 Flight Journal
There is now also a companion Flight Journal in development.
The first installment is the transcript of the flight
of Apollo 15..
Now available on CDs
Apollo Landing Site Images
Lunar orbiters have started imaging the six Apollo landing
sites with higher and higher resolution. Here are galleries
and resources sites for these interesting observations.
Apollo 11 40th Anniversary
As July 20, 2009 approaches, there are a number
of efforts to commemorate the 40th anniversary of
the first Moon landing. Below are some of the websites
offering special programs and resources in recognition
of that accomplishment.
will recreate Apollo 11’s lunar mission,
minute by minute, with an interactive
experience that lets visitors experience
the mission as it happened, using archival
audio, video, photos and “real time” transmissions.
Though objectively a failed mission, Apollo 13 has become
a shining example of NASA at its best. Saving the lives
of astronauts took tremendous technical skills, great
teamwork, and innovation under terrific pressure.
Here are various sites and articles about the ill-fated
Arguably the most important and most risky of all the
Apollo missions. Going directly to the Moon with an
"all up" test of the Saturn V was a stunning
achievement. The mission's success set the Apollo program
on course for the Apollo 11 landing the following summer.
"Romance to Reality contains more than 180 annotations
(that is, summaries and descriptions) of classic,
seminal, and illustrative moon & Mars expedition &
settlement studies. These are arranged in chronological
order by date of presentation for conference papers
and presentation materials, and by date of publication
for all others..." - D.S.F. Portree
"over a thousand high-quality Apollo photograph
scans, video and audio clips, launch vehicle and crew
simulator, books and videos, and links to numerous
Apollo and space-related websites."
See also the companion site Contact
Light, which gives personal retrospective on Kipp's
growing up in the Moon race days.
Race - Mark Wade
Huge resource site on all aspects of the race to the
moon including extensive info on the Soviet program.
Module, SpaceCraft Assembly & Test- This site
(also called LM S/CAT Remembered) from Frank A Pullo
is dedicated to the Lunar Module and its construction
and testing by Grumman group in Bethpage, N.Y.
Image Atlas - Lunar and Planetary Institute
- "The Apollo Image Atlas is a comprehensive
collection of Apollo-Saturn mission photography.
Included are almost 25,000 lunar images, both
from orbit and from the moon's surface, as well
as photographs of the earth, astronauts and mission