Saturn IB (Skylab 2): On the milkstool of Titans.

And forty-five years ago the Skylab program continued unabated. This Space Station had its origins in the Apollo Application Program (AAP) as a way to find further use from the Apollo program hardware developing science-oriented manned missions. The somehow make do roots of the AAP program shows from the ground up. The first Saturn IB rockets had been launched from either LC-34 or 37 launch complexes. By the time of the Skylab missions both were inactive, so the manned Apollo crew were launched utilizing LC-39B instead. But that complex was configured for Saturn Vs. In order to enable the launch of IBs, the LC-39B’s Platform No. 1 was modified by adding a clever elevated pedestal known as the “milkstool” to accommodate the height differential between the Saturn IB and the much larger Saturn V in order to employ the later service facilities.

The second manned Skylab mission rocket (SA-206) ready to “Rock & Roll” next to the Mobile Service Structure. Those were the times.


Atlas & Deke: So near, yet so far.

The neatly dressed Project Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton observes the night launch of an Atlas missile from Cape Canaveral. Sadly, Slayton didn’t have the chance to ride one of those fiery Atlases because he was grounded in 1962 due to an irregular heart rhythm. Thirteen patient years later Deke reached orbit at last with the Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Photo by Ralph Morse (LIFE magazine).

Vostok 5-Vostok 6: Ястреб и Чайка.

In this precise moment, but 55 years ago, the second joint Vostok mission was under way. In Vostok 5 was Valery Bykovsky, but it was the Vostok 6 the one which made the headlines. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, was at the “helm”….well, at least she was inside; the Vostok’s cosmonauts had very few manual control over the events. With hindsight more a propaganda stunt than anything since womanhood had to wait two more decades for the next one. Anyway, Tereshkova was the first and one had to be not only able but also very brave to climb into one of those rockets back then.

Superb poster, quite dynamic and unrealistic. They weren’t launched at the same time.

Salyut 7 (2017 movie): “Stop that music…, stop that infernal din.”

Just finished this movie, a wildly free adaptation of Soyuz T 13 (Vladimir Dzhanibekov-Viktor Savinykh) rescue mission. My opinion? I kinda like it. The story line is a big too Hollywoodised for my taste, but it’s sure a worthy addition to the always interesting Russian space-related filmography. Two personal complains though. One minor, the Shuttle and its astronauts brief technical depiction and one major, the bombastic and LOUD original soundtrack.

The best part of the movie to me. Their interpretation of the T 13 mission docking; the first time a spacecraft had docked with a “dead” (inert) space station. The movie’s computer-generated special-effects are truly magnificent.