While the Americans sent space probes to Mars, the Soviets sent many probes to Venus, of which 8 of them successfully landed on the Venusian surface and took the first measurements and pictures of the planet’s surface, showing Venus to be a hot, hellish wasteland.
In the 60s Zambia planned to send “Afronauts” to land on Mars and the Moon. The Mars mission was planned to send a ‘spacegirl’, two cats and a missionary to convert the Martians to Christianity.
While in the USSR, Neil Armstrong collected a handful of soil from outside a Ukrainian man’s house in Siberia to acknowledge that man’s contribution to Apollo-11 Moon Mission. The gravitational trajectory adopted by Apollo-11 program to reach the Moon is named after that man – ‘The Kondratyuk Rout’.
The first Soviet probe sent to Mars’ moon Phobos failed due to user error. While the probe was still on its way to Mars, an impatient technician who didn’t want to wait for his code to be proofread unintentionally sent a command to the probe to shut down and there was no way to turn it back on.
After the incident, an investigation was immediately ordered to determine who was responsible for the failure. Nevertheless, disciplinary action was postponed until the completion of the Phobos 2 mission. This was to prevent the demoralization of the Phobos 2 team. Any penalization of the Phobos 1 team would create anxiety among the Phobos 2 team and reduce the chances of mission success.
This postponement of punitive measures was urged by IKI director Roald Sagdeev. He quoted the former secret service chief under Stalin, Lavrenti Beria, who said “Let’s make them work for now. We can shoot them all later.”
The alignment of planets in our solar system that allowed us to launch Voyager spacecraft out of our solar system at the speed it went only happens once every 176 years.
“The last time this happened, Thomas Jefferson was president, and he blew it.”
— Tom Paine, Former NASA Administrator
In 1961 when Yuri Gagarin returned from space Nikita Khrushchev wanted to boost the Soviet’s anti-religion campaign by saying: “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there.”
The first woman to have flown into space(1963), Valentina Tereshkova, also volunteered in 2013 to go on a one-way trip to Mars.
Yuri Gagarin’s heart was beating at 64 beats per minute just half an hour before the launch that would bring him to space. 64 BPM is lower than the average person’s pulse just after waking up in the morning.
The first man to fly and the first man to walk on the moon were alive at the same time. Neil Armstrong was 17 when Orville Wright died.
A man named Roger Boisjoly and his colleagues attempted to stop Challenger from lifting off into space knowing that a disaster would happen, but ultimately failed.
Astronauts must have good airflow around them when they sleep, otherwise they, “…could wake up oxygen-deprived and gasping for air, because a bubble of their own exhaled carbon dioxide had formed around their heads.”
A Soviet probe, “Luna 15”, crashed into the surface of the moon while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were still on it.