John Young, just before the launch of his first space mission, Gemini 3, in 1965.

John Young, True Believer

The longest-serving astronaut was also among the most visionary.

Hours after witnessing the first Earthrise, Jim Lovell told mission control: “The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.”

Who Took the Legendary Earthrise Photo From Apollo 8?

The mission returned to Earth with one of the most famous images in history

Glenn and his shuttle crewmates preparing to board Discovery in 1998.

The Voyages of John Glenn

Two trips to space, 36 years apart.

The charred and disassembled Apollo 1 spacecraft, weeks after the accident.

Apollo’s Worst Day

Veterans of NASA’s moon program referred to it simply as “The Fire.” Did it have to happen?

The NASA Robot That Failed to Do Its Job

A cautionary tale about the android who just wasn't suited for the task at hand

Even before Sputnik, Robert Gilruth pushed to launch a satellite. A flight-test veteran who understood risk, he became key to launching men to the moon.

Bob Gilruth, the Quiet Force Behind Apollo

How a research engineer came to lead NASA to the moon.

Artists have imagined Pluto, but mission scientists are loathe to predict what the first close-ups will reveal. Craters? Mountains? A subsurface ocean? All are possible.

Pluto at Last

Nine years after leaving Earth, New Horizons closes in on the last of the Original Nine planets, and whatever lies beyond.

From the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

Why the SR-71 Blackbird is the Epitome of Cold War Spycraft

The sleek and shadowy plane still commands awe 50 years after its first test flight

Bruce McCandless takes the Manned Maneuvering Unit for a test drive on mission 41-B in 1984.


The MMU may have been the coolest space vehicle ever. So why did its career end as soon as it began?

From the National Air and Space Museum / Udvar-Hazy Center.

The Story of NASA’s Jet-Propulsion Backpack

Thirty years ago, astronauts set out on the first untethered space odyssey

South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk, 40, ended up in the United States because, he says, it's where great things happen. Musk is gambling that his company, SpaceX, can change the world with its Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules by carrying cargo, and eventually people, to orbit.

Is SpaceX Changing the Rocket Equation?

1 visionary + 3 launchers + 1,500 employees = ?

The Mercury space capsule during a 1959 wind tunnel test.

How the Spaceship Got Its Shape

In the 1950s Harvey Allen solved the problem of atmospheric entry. But first he had to convince his colleagues.

Jack Schmitt on the lunar surface, Apollo 17, December 1972.

Voices from the Moon

Tales of lunar exploration, from the astronauts themselves.

During ground tests in a clean room last July, Mike Malin holds a color chart used to calibrate one of his Mars-bound cameras.

A Cameraman on Mars

If you really want to know the planet, flip through Mike Malin’s photo album.

Artist's conception of the Lunokhod rover about to descend ramps from the landing module.

The Other Moon Landings

The Soviets lost the moon race but won a dram of glory with the first robotic craft to roam another world.


Tales From the Space Shuttle

What you don't find in the post-mission reports.

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