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December 30, 2019 - Saturn V Shuffle

Saturn V Shuffle  Just weeks after the second lunar landing mission was completed, NASA administrators cited budget constraints as the reason they were shuffling their remaining inventory of Saturn V Moon rockets. That announcement, 50 years ago this week, included a plan whereby one of the eight remaining Moon rockets would be reassigned to carry the Skylab space station into orbit, leaving seven rockets for future Apollo missions (numbers 13 through 19). The Skylab launch was to have occurred after four lunar missions; the final three lunar landings would occur after the Skylab program ended. But further NASA budget cuts resulted in more mission cancellations and reshuffling, and the last Saturn V to fly was the one that lofted Skylab, shown here just after liftoff on May 14, 1973.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 30, 2019 - January 5, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 30

1957: Wernher von Braun proposes the Saturn-class launch vehicle

Moon phase Tuesday 31

New Year's Eve

Neptune 4° north of Moon

1864: Robert Aitken born
2004: Cassini makes first flyby of Iapetus

Moon phase Wednesday 1

New Year's Day

Moon at apogee

1801: Giuseppe Piazzi discovers asteroid Ceres
2019: New Horizons flies by Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 Ultima Thule

Moon phase Thursday 2

First Qtr Moon 11:45 PM ET

1900: Leslie Peltier born
1920: Isaac Asimov born
1959: Luna 1 is first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravitational field
1972: Mariner 9 begins mapping Mars
2004: Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2

Moon phase Friday 3

Quadrantid meteor shower

1962: NASA publicly announces and names Gemini program
2004: Mars rover Spirit lands on Mars
2019: Chang'e 4 and Yutu 2 rover make first soft landing on Moon's far side

Moon phase Saturday 4

Quadrantid meteor shower

1797: Wilhelm Beer born
: NASA cancels Apollo 20 Moon landing mission

Moon phase Sunday 5

Earth at perihelion

1892: First successful aurora photo taken
: Venera 5 launched
1972: President Nixon announces approval to develop the Space Shuttle
2005: UB313 (Eris) discovered, ignites the Pluto-Planet debate

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.