April is the anniversary month for several significant events in the history of space travel. On April 12, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space and the first man to orbit the earth. On April 13, 1970, Commander Jim Lovell uttered the words “Houston, we’ve got a problem”, which led to a frantic search by NASA engineers to solve the problems resulting from an oxygen tank explosion on the spacecraft Apollo 13. The accident, the harrowing hours afterwards and the tense planning to bring the astronauts back to earth are related in Lovell’s book Lost Moon: the perilous voyage of Apollo 13. In our audiovisual collection, Manhattan Public Library also owns the DVD of the award-winning film based on Lovell’s book, titled Apollo 13. April 12 is also the anniversary date of the first flight of a space shuttle, Columbia, in 1981, and the first flight of a U.S. Senator, Jake Garn, in 1985. The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed on April 25, 1990.
If you’re looking for clear, concise explanations of many aspects of space–astronautics, planets, telescopes, discoveries, etc.–you might try the National Geographic Encyclopedia of Space.
Coincidentally, April is also the anniversary (April 15, 1950) of the television program “Buck Rogers”!