Little Joe II Launch Vehicle
Little Joe II Launch Vehicle

Used for Apollo spacecraft transonic and high-altitude abort testing at the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) nin New Mexico during the 1964-1966, and represented an important milestone in the lunar landing program. It was powered by a variety of solid-propellant rock motors.

In May 1965, this Command Module (CM), a boilerplate (BP22), and a Launch Escape System (LES) were launched atop a Little Joe II like this one for a high-altitude abort test at WSTF. Twenty five seconds after liftoff, the Little Joe unexpectedly began to break up and destroyed itself at 14,000 feet. The LES sensed a malfunction and fired, boosting this CM to 19,000 feet and away from danger, and the parachute system lowered the boilerplate to the desert below. Though unplanned, this emergency demonstrated successfully what the LES was designed to do.

During the actual launch of the three-man Apollo CM, the LES was designed to propel the spacecraft and its crew to safety in the event of a Saturn launch vehicle failure on the pad or during powered flight.

Mercury - Redstone
Mercury - Redstone

A one-man spacecraft-booster combination like this one propelled the first two American astronauts, Al Shepard and Gus Grissom, into Space in May and July of 1961. Al Shepard's spacecraft reached an altitude of 101 nautical miles in a ballistic arc above the Earth. The flight lasted about 15 1/2 minutes and Shepard was weightless for over five minutes. The vehicle reached a velocity of over 5,000 miles per hour and landed 236 miles downrange. At liftoff, the vehicle weighed about 66,000lbs. Propellants included ethyl alcohol, water, and liquid oxygen. A single A-7 engine powered the vehicle into space.

Faith 7 Mercury Spacecraft
Faith 7 Mercury Spacecraft

This is the actual Mercury capsule flown by Astronaut Gordon Cooper on May 15-16, 1963. In a triumphant conclusion to Project Mercury, Cooper traveled longer and farther than any other American had up until that time.

Cooper selected the name "Faith 7" for his spacecraft to express his faith in his fellow workers and in the spaceflight hardware that had been so carefully tested. All the Mercury spacecraft carried the number "7" to represent the original seven Mercury Program astronauts.

Moon Rocks
Moon Rocks

Left Side:

Breccia Moon Rock (15498)
Flight: Apollo 15 (July 26-August 7, 1971)
Landing Area: The Hadley-Apennine Mountains
Sample Site: Dune Crater

This particular rock is a breccia (brek-sha), which formed when meteorites hit the Moon's surface about 4 billion years ago. The high pressures and temperatures that resulted from the meteorite impacts literally remelted, crushed, and mixed the layers of original lunar crust and welded the existing rocks and soils together to create breccias. The Moon rock contains glass fragments and rock minerals consisting of pyroxene, with smaller amounts of plagioclase and olivine.

Right side:

Anorthosite Moon Rock (60015)
Flight: Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972)
Landing Area: The Cayley Plains, Descartes Region
Sample Site: Descartes Highlands

This rock is an anorthosite, an igneous rock formed by the slow cooling of molten lava near the lunar surface. The rock consists mostly of white plagioclase, with small amounts of olivine and pyroxene and has a black glassy coating of a different composition, probably splashed onto the rock much later by a nearby meteorite impact.

Space Suits
Space Suits

A space suit is a garment worn to keep a human alive in the harsh environment of outer space, vacuum, and temperature extremes. Space suits are often worn inside spacecraft as a safety precaution in case of loss of cabin pressure, and are necessary for extravehicular activity (EVA), which is work done outside spacecraft.

Three types of spacesuits exist for different purposes: IVA (intravehicular activity), EVA (extravehicular activity), and IEVA (intra/extravehicular activity). IVA suits are meant to be worn inside a pressurized spacecraft, and are therefore lighter and more comfortable. IEVA suits are meant for use inside and outside the spacecraft. They include more protection from the harsh conditions of space, such as protection from micrometeorites and extreme temperature change. EVA suits are used outside spacecraft, for either planetary exploration or spacewalks. They must protect the wearer against all conditions of space, as well as provide mobility and functionality.

Lunar Rover Trainer
Lunar Rover Trainer

Rovers were taken to the Moon's surface - and left there each time - on the last three Apollo missions. Astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin (Apollo 15), John Young and Charlier Duke (Apollo 16), and Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17), practiced in this Lunar Rover Trainer here in Houston in preparation for their Apollo missions.

Since it was not needed on the Moon's airless surface, the rover had no steering wheel or brakes. It was started, steered, and stopped by a single control located between the two seats. The electric powered rover could travel at almost 10mph and had a range of about 55 miles. It was equipped with a TV camera, which recorded the astronauts' exploration of the Moon and liftoff of the top half of the Lunar Module when the astronauts left the moon.

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford Floating in Space
Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford Floating in Space

Thomas Patten "Tom" Stafford flew aboard two Gemini space flights; and in 1969 was the Commander of Apollo 10, the second manned mission to orbit the Moon and the first to fly a Lunar Module there. In 1975, Stafford was Commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight, the first joint U.S.-Soviet space mission. He made six rendezvous in space and logged 507 hours of space flight. He has flown over 120 different types of fixed wing and rotary aircraft and three different types of spacecraft.

Microgravity is the condition in which people or objects appear to be weightless. The effects of microgravity can be seen when astronauts and objects float in space. Microgravity can be experienced in other ways, as well. "Micro-" means "very small," so microgravity refers to the condition where gravity seems to be very small. In microgravity, astronauts can float in their spacecraft - or outside, on a spacewalk. Heavy objects move around easily. For example, astronauts can move equipment weighing hundreds of pounds with their fingertips.

Space Shuttle Independence
Space Shuttle Independence

Formerly known as Explorer, the Space Shuttle Independence is a full-scale, high-fidelity replica of the Space Shuttle. It was built using schematics, blueprints, and archival documents provided by NASA and by shuttle contractors. The model is 122.7 feet long, 54 feet high, has a 78 foot wingspan, and weighs 171,860lbs.

Space Shuttle Program
Space Shuttle Program

Officially called the Space Transportation System (STS), the Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981-2011.

The Space Shuttle system - composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable fuel tank - carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000lbs. of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and land like a glider at either the Kennedy Space Center or Edwards Air Force Base.

Greetings from the moon!
Greetings from the moon!