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This Day in Space History: One Small Step

Note: This is an updated article from 2012.

Panorama of the Eagle lunar module by Ed Hengeveld from JSC scans.

“That’s one small step for a man… one giant leap for mankind.”

I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 48 years ago… it was a shining moment in human history, and will be — should be — remembered forever as an example of what people can achieve when challenged, driven, and inspired.

More giant leaps have been made since then, and undoubtedly more will be made in the future, but this was the first and to this date still very much the biggest.
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Gene Cernan, the “Last Man on the Moon,” Has Died at 82

Photo of Gene Cernan in the Apollo 17 CSM during return from the Moon in 1972. (NASA/JSC)

Photo of Gene Cernan in the Apollo 17 CSM during return from the Moon in 1972. (NASA/JSC)

Sad news today: Eugene A. Cernan, former NASA astronaut and one of the twelve people who walked on the Moon during the Apollo program, died today at the age of 82.

“It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father,” Cernan’s family said in a news release from NASA.  “Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.”

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NASA Astronaut Returns to Earth After Historic “Year in Space”

Astronaut Mark Kelly after exiting the Soyuz TMA-18M on March 1, 2016. (NASA TV)

Astronaut Mark Kelly after emerging from the Soyuz TMA-18M on March 1, 2016. (NASA TV)

With a smile and an energetic thumbs-up, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly exited the Soyuz TMA-18M capsule shortly after landing on the remote steppe of Kazakhstan at 10:26 p.m. Central time March 1, 2016. It was the return of the Expedition 46 crew, which included Russian cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko, the latter of whom shared Kelly’s historic “One-Year Mission” aboard the ISS.

Launched on March 27, 2015 with Expedition 43, Kelly and Kornienko remained aboard Station for 340 days and through four expedition crews, the longest duration spent on the ISS by anyone to date and, for Kelly, racking up a record-breaking number of career days in space (520) among U.S. astronauts.

The extended stay was specifically designed for advanced research on the effects of long-duration missions in space on the body, which is crucial if humans are ever to embark on a journey to Mars.

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Another Moonwalker Gone: Apollo 14 Astronaut Ed Mitchell Has Died at 85

Edgar Mitchell poses next to the U.S. flag on the Moon during Apollo 14, Feb. 1971 (NASA)

Edgar Mitchell poses next to the U.S. flag on the Moon during Apollo 14, Feb. 1971 (NASA)

The world has lost one of its special treasures: retired Navy captain and former NASA astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, LM pilot for Apollo 14 and one of the 12 men who walked on the Moon, died on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 at the age of 85.

His passing brings the number of humans alive who have stood on the surface of another world down to 7 and, as of Feb. 4, none of them from Apollo 14.
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Astronaut’s Green Thumb Grows the First* Flower in Space

"Space Flower," the first flower grown on orbit (NASA)

“Space Flower,” the first zinnia flower grown on orbit (NASA)

Say hello to the first* flower unfurled in space! This picture, shared on Jan. 16, 2016 by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, shows a plant that has – thanks to some TLC from Kelly – managed to produce the first-ever zinnia blooms in low-Earth orbit and in fact the first flower grown outside of Earth’s biosphere. (Edit: read disclaimer below.)

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