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Archive for '- Space Race'

Merry Christmas from Space!

Once upon a time, space was quiet. This was before satellites had cluttered the orbit of the earth, beaming TV shows and text messages and GPS coordinates.

Before 1958, space was very quiet.

On December 18, 1958, the Air Force placed the first communications satellite, a Project SCORE relay vehicle, into orbit.

And then, on December 19, the sound of the a human voice was transmitted through space. It was the voice of President Eisenhower, broadcasting a message of peace to the world below.

This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means, I convey to you and all mankind America’s wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.

 

Fewer than 100 people knew about the project, called SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment). The goal was to put an Atlas missile into orbit and to show that communications satellites could transmit messages to Earth. It was a huge technological breakthrough and a milestone in the space race.

Sputnik 1 had been successfully launched in 1957 and had an onboard radio-transmitter. The satellite in the SCORE project used a tape recorder to store and forward voice messages—it was the first satellite … [ Read all ]

Explore the new Digital Archives at the Kennedy Library

It’s always exciting to uncover a new piece of history, and even more exciting to discover a whole new treasure trove of thousands of pieces of history. Today the John F. Kennedy Library is launching a new Digital Archives that contains over 200,000 digitized documents; 300 reels of audiotape containing over 1,200 individual recordings of telephone conversations, speeches, and meetings; 300 museum artifacts; 72 reels of moving images; and 1,500 photos.

You can peruse the drafts of every speech delivered by the President, thousands of official White House photographs, audio of all of President Kennedy’s speeches, and video of press conferences during his years in office. And tags and categories help you find related records among all types of media.

For example, I browsed photographs of President Kennedy to find an illustration for this post, and the above picture caught my eye. After calling up the full record, I selected “Related Records” and was led to links to audio and video recordings of the September 12, 1962, speech at Rice University and to marked drafts and the reading copy of the speech.

Further clicks on the subject categories takes you to even more—you can read the memos between President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson about the space race with the Soviet Union, listen to JFK’s secretly taped conversations with the head of NASA, and … [ Read all ]

Are you there Venus? It’s me, Earth

Twenty years ago today, NASA dropped by our neighbor Venus to say hello and snap a few pictures. The Magellan probe entered orbit, took a terrestrial map of Venus, and then did something very rude: it crashed into the planet. Not very neighborly.

Still, we gathered plenty of data from that crash (and it’s debatable whether the wreckage of the Magellan even made it through the thick atmosphere), data that was sent back to earth, processed by the folks at NASA, and then distributed to the whole world on a newfangled piece of equipment called the Internet.

It was 1994. AOL was tops, and the sound of dial-up was as common as a telephone ring (an actual telephone ring, not a ringtone).  NASA has since preserved its Magellan website as a snapshot in time, and it’s a hoot. You can view high-resolution images that are smaller than a camera phone snapshot these days  (though it’d be tough to get a camera phone to Venus).

For more on NASA, and resources at the National Archives relating to space exploration, be sure to have a look at the Space Exploration section of our website.… [ Read all ]