At 7 o'clock on the morning on April 4, 1968, Apollo 6 thundered off the launch pad. Everything looked perfect until the rocket started vibrating in flight so hard it was almost bouncing up and down. The so-called pogo effect (it's almost like the rocket is bouncing on a pogo stick) increased g-forces in the spacecraft and shook the rocket's frame so hard that loose structural panels on the lunar module adapter section fell off. The irregular launch also destroyed the flight path, leaving the spacecraft in a highly elliptical orbit rather than the planned circular one. Luckily Apollo 6 was unmanned, but the problem was bigger than one mission. NASA had spent years solving the pogo problem only to see it return, this time threatening manned lunar missions.
Pluto's shown us its heart, and its potential for vast liquid water ocean habitats so far from the Sun — on a cosmic body we demoted, no less — is mind-boggling in itself. To add to the "holy wow" of what Pluto can tell us, scientists now have reason to believe that the dwarf planet's ocean is incredibly deep.
There may soon be a field guide to the microbes of the International Space Station. NASA announced on September 21 that it is seeking research proposals to investigate tiny creatures ferried from Earth on the bodies of the more than 200 astronauts who have visited the space station.
On June 16, 1968, Joe Kerwin, Vance Brand, and Joe Engle climbed into and were sealed inside their Apollo command module. Over the next seven days they lived off their onboard systems and consumables as they slowly rotated to ensure even heating across the spacecraft's skin. They emerged seven days later bearded and tired but happy. Their mission had been, by and large, successful, though they hadn't left the Earth. The crew of 2TV-1 had “flown” their mission in a massive vacuum chamber.
SpaceX is grounded after a Falcon 9 rocket caught fire on the launch pad on September 1. Yet despite the fact that CEO Elon Musk has called the explosion “the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell expects the company might resume launching rockets in November.