Welcome to Vintage Space!

By Amy Shira Teitel | June 1, 2017 6:18 pm
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The Earth from the Moon on Apollo 8, 1968. NASA.

You might think the story of the Space Race is straightforward. That NASA was created one day so the United States could start sending things and people into space, and when it turned out that the Soviet Union had more advanced technologies — it did get the first satellite and human into orbit — President Kennedy decided we should go to the Moon. By the end of the decade, no less. Then NASA did what it does best: solved the problem. It launched Mercury orbital flights, then longer and more complicated Gemini missions, then Apollo went to the Moon. 

That is a good story, but it’s also the ultimate oversimplification. Digging into the details to build the whole story is what Vintage Space is all about — the abandoned paths and programs, the uncelebrated heroes, and the tiny but fascinating details that are lost in popular retellings. And it gets bigger from there. Vintage Space is also about the technologies that predate NASA and the echoes those vintage technologies still have today.

Vintage Space arguably started when I was seven years old researching for my second grade project on Venus. That Venus is roughly Earth-sized, rotates the other way on its axis, has a day as long as its year, and it so roasting hot fascinated me, but that it was all that and something I could see as a point of light in the sky. I was hooked on space, and so got my hands on 1000 Facts about Space by Pam Beasant. Each planet had a two-page spread, including the Moon, and a cartoon of two astronauts on the surface in front of a Lunar Module blew my seven year old mind. I couldn’t believe men had gone to the Moon and that I didn’t know about it! I started ravenously devouring anything and everything I could read to learn about Apollo…

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The image that turned me into an Apollo nut. via Beasant/Kingfisher.

Flash forward to 2010. I had a shiny new Master’s degree in hand and no idea what I wanted to do with it. All I knew was that I loved writing and space history more than anything. So while I tried to figure out what to do next I smooshed my two loves into one. That November 14 — coincidentally the 41st anniversary of Apollo 12’s launch, which is my favourite mission — I launched Vintage Space. What started as a little self-hosted blog has grown to be a YouTube show with weekly episodes, and now that the blog has a real home again those episodes will have companion blog posts!

At its core, Vintage Space is a way for me to explore to wild and amazing history of spaceflight, following my own nerdery then share that nerdery with fellow space nerds. Ultimately I just want to do my part in getting people excited about space and preserve this incredible history for generations to come. And I’m so happy to have you guys along for the ride!

Vintage Space has had a few homes; the original archive is here and its three-years of articles at Popular Science are here. You can also find out where I’m going to be next on my website, help make Vintage Space better by joining my Patreon team, and of course for weekly videos check out my YouTube channel!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics
MORE ABOUT: History, NASA, Vintage Space
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  • Jeff Keith

    You’ve got me aboard, thanks Amy. I watched (well listened) Apollo 11. Couldn’t work out why it took so long to get there, and then why couldn’t I see the guys up there.
    But wait … Venus spins backwards?? Whaaaaaatt?!?!?!?!?!
    Love your channel. Looking forward to it. Cheers. Sydney, Australia.

  • Village Cat Dad

    Amy, glad to see you got your blog back! 😉 As a space nerd myself, I’ve enjoyed your YouTube videos, and look forward to many more! I’ve witnessed 3 launches from Canaveral/Kennedy (Apollo, Shuttle, GOES-R), and enjoy watching many other launches from my backyard on the Space Coast. I want to see a SpaceX bird next. Watching the engine burns on the return that first time, tho, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up! Anyway, best wishes and good luck!

  • striderx

    Great to have you back Amy! I only discovered your work within the past year, but I’ve been happily working my way through your videos and writings since. The alignment of our mutual passion for the early days of manned space flight is scarily perfect. Keep writing and recording. Hope to meet you in person someday. Come to the Evergreen Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. https://www.evergreenmuseum.org/ You know you want to be in Oregon for the eclipse anyway!

  • Wordserf

    Welcome! I would like to have your perspective on the successful Soviet moon missions that pre-dated Apollo. Looking forward to your Discover pieces

  • OWilson

    Love the term Vintage Space!

    It is what we presently have. From circa 1970 Radio Shack remote cars on Mars, to NASA having to hitch a ride from Russian KGB Great Satan Putin, to get your astronauts to the Space Station.

    What ever would JFK have thunk? :)

    But welcome to your new home!

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    www(dot)fourmilab(dot)ch(slash)fourmilog(slash)archives(slash)2016-01(slash)001599(dot)html
    NASA used PERT charts!

    OTOH, it made the impossible inevitable. OTOH, it eventually assassinated basic research, grant funding vs. DCF/ROI risk. Being outside the Earth’s magnetosphere is 90 rads/year exposure. Special radiation exposure exemption, asstronaughts are allowed 100 rads whole career exposure. Send robots.

  • dinotrac

    Hooray for you! As somebody who followed the escapades of the X-15 program, then manned space flights from Yuri Gagarin ’til…well now…I know what a rich topic it is. Having watched the Apollo 11 moonwalk broadcast camera in hand only to run to my closet darkroom to develop the pictures, I know how the fascination can grab you.

    Great to see such a young tyke getting into the old days of science fact so great that some people still can’t believe it’s not fiction.

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  • Mike Salsgiver

    Thought of you today as we learn of the passing of Dick Gordon. I know you have a soft spot for him, and your interviews with him are terrific. We have all lost an idol, and icon, and a hero. You were fortunate to call him “friend.” My thoughts are with you as well as the entire apace community today.

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Vintage Space

Vintage Space is all about digging into the minutia of the space age. Rather than retelling glossy stories of astronauts, Vintage Space peels back that veneer to look at the real stories -- the innovations that failed, the unrealized technologies, and the human elements that are less publicity-friendly so often remain buried. Gaining a clear picture of spaceflight's past ultimately helps us understand our present position in space and have a more realistic expectation of what the future might bring.
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