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Doug was the senior curator for the 'Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age' exhibition (2015) and editor of the associated publication. He has written a history of the British Black Arrow rocket and his book 'Satellite: Innovation in Orbit' was published by Reaktion Books early 2017. He is currently researching new space exhibitions for the Museum.

It’s tricky getting to Mars. The voyage takes months, your spacecraft has to perform some delicate manoeuvres along the way and then – there is Mars itself! It has not been a welcoming world. Almost 50 missions have been launched to the red planet by a host of different nations and space agencies. Some 30 of these have failed or enjoyed only very limited success.

On this day (3 November) in 1957, just one month after the launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, a dog called Laika was sent into space, become the first living thing to orbit our planet.

On the anniversary of Venera 7’s launch – the first spacecraft to successfully land on Venus – curator Doug Millard reflects on the challenge of exploring other worlds.

Colin Pillinger, the planetary scientist, has died age 70. Pillinger, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, began his career at Nasa, analysing samples of moon rock on the Apollo programme, and made headlines in 1989 when he and colleagues at the Open University found traces of organic material in a Mars meteorite that had fallen to Earth. But he is best known for his remarkable and dogged battle to launch Beagle 2 Mars lander, named after HMS Beagle, […]

The Farnborough Air Show is a biennial jamboree that’s actually more market place than show. It’s where you come to buy aircraft or satellites or spare parts or just about anything you might need if your business is about flying high.  But this year I abandoned the trade halls to watch the Avro Vulcan XH558 bomber take off – its Olympus engines howling like no other jet, and then land, having thrilled the crowds with a beautiful, graceful and yes – […]

This box contains a flight spare set of experimental surfaces for the Prospero satellite that was launched in 1971. They were designed to tell scientists more about how different satellite materials and finishes – matt, shiny etc, would behave in the temperature extremes of space. It has always reminded me of a much larger experiment flown by NASA (LDEF – which stands for Long Duration Exposure Facility) that was covered with all sorts of equivalent surfaces. The LDEF was brought […]