Posts tagged moon

Tribute to Apollo IV

The year was 1967. Earlier that year a fire had killed three astronauts. There was a degree of uncertainty perhaps and a degree of even more fierce determination. On November 9, 1967, NASA and the American people would get a win.

The Saturn V would fly for the first time. Even when it was all assembled and everything was checked and double checked, no one was still 100% sure what was going to happen when then engines ignited and the clock hit 0:00.

I’ve read accounts of people being in absolute shock and amazement from the power of this rocket. It dwarfed everything before and after it. No loss of crew or payload ever came at the hands of this machine. It was and still is the mightiest rocket to have ever been put into service. This is just a little tribute I put together.

The song is on my SoundCloud page and may beprone to changes because I honestly still want to tweak a couple of things with the audio. Getting all the voices to come through the pounding audio was hard enough. Thank goodness for modern day music editing!

NOTE: Some of the video clips are from Apollo 8. Not a whole lot of  high quality footage from this first flight exists that I could find.

Space: The Final Frontier

No truer words can ever be spoken. The depths of the mind are indeed complex but not tangible. Our oceans floors hold many secrets about life and the history of our planet. Space is, for all intensive purposes, infinite. This isn’t technically true, to our knowledge. We estimate the true size of the Universe to be 93 Billion Light Years. So vast, in fact, that light from one side will never reach the other. This is why it is the pinnacle of exploration.

Eventually, one day, our destiny will lie somewhere in space. Perhaps another planetary body in this solar system or even another star system. That is, if we don’t blow ourselves up or suffer a cataclysmic set back.

The recent White House budget leaves me both concerned and yet I see an opportunity to be optimistic. I’ve been reading forums to get people’s takes on this. Mind you this is coming from people who work in the industry to plain people like myself. It is inevitable that politics gets head-firsted into the mix. I made that slang up. Nice eh? I guess there is no way around it but the degree of “This was Bush’s fault!”; “This was Griffin’s fault”; “Obama sux!” is just a little much.

I try my damnedest to take a middle road approach. I want science. I want exploration. I want a manned flight program (also termed HSF for Human Space Flight). At the moment we have it with Shuttle. In a few short months, it will be done and gone. What happens after that? We’re grounded, at least humans are.

Private companies are really getting into the mix of things which does excite me. Thing is, they’re a ways off from manned flight. It will happen, just not quite soon as we’d like.

Constellation is dead. I’m sad and yet I can understand this move. Some claim to have had the insight or ESP enough to know it was doomed from day one. I think having a pessimistic attitude isn’t very healthy. I don’t work in the industry, I follow it from a few rows back. I can say that my interest is important, not as a single entity but gathered with the combined interest of persons just like myself. Lack of public interest will kill a program deader than dead. Apollo anyone?

So, I thought about the cancellation of that program and realized, ok, maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m still icky feeling about not having the ability to put humans up but lets think this out. The downfall of Constellation was reaching back to the past to sort of re-use older technologies or at least model from them. What we need are newer technologies that are laced with our learnings of the past.

I think the biggest technological advance we need is in propulsion. Chemical rockets are dandy at getting heavy vehicles off the ground and into space but once in space you need something else. Something that’s less cumbersome, less prone to failure and has some oomph! These technologies should be researched to make Moon and Mars missions faster. Transit time to Mars is MONTHS. With new propulsion you could get it down to weeks; or so I’ve heard.

So, new technologies and private companies. I think I actually like the sound of that. Will they deliver? The talk is there, the walk is yet to come.

More notes on the budget are promised robotics and planetary missions. This is very exciting to me. Rovers are great tools for science! Just look at Spirit and Opportunity; they vastly outlived their planned mission time. If we had a mission going up every other month, I’d be stoked.

A final note about canceling the Moon program. Listen, we’ve been there before. Yes, actual people walked on the actual Moon. That program was initially a race; a race we would win. After that, you had a group of giddy scientists drooling over the prospect of getting some precious samples back. That came later and Apollo XVII was the final Moon-shot. We never spent more than a couple of days there. When we go back, we need to plan on STAYING for a length of time. Weeks, not days.

China wants to go there. Let them go, plant their flag and then come back. It’s a great thing for a country. I’d applaud them for it. As the saying goes “been there, done that”. It’s time we went a step ahead. That way when countries are landing and planting their flags, we can wave at them from our cozy Moon habitats. From that point we can build on and then eyeball Mars or even asteroids.

So, finally, it’s bittersweet for me. I wanted to see Constellation work but ultimately I want to see anything work. I’ll hold on the promise of some serious R&D and science missions. I’ll hold on to private companies keeping us in orbit too. It’s a big time shake up of things. Perhaps it was needed.

Obama says we need to get young people into science and math. I couldn’t agree more. If he truly means this then he needs to deliver on this budget. NASA has inspired generations of people. Let’s keep it that way.

If this flops as a dud and our space program is left floundering for years, I’ll be one mad space cadet. >:o

LRO (Lunar Recon Orbiter) Strikes Back!

Yes, I was too lazy to type reconnaissance, my bad.  And ok, it’s not “striking back” really as much as it is just doing its job.  The point is LRO has been busy! One objective is to thoroughly map the surface of the Moon.  A nifty side item is to photos of certain areas of interest.  What could be more interesting than the old Apollo sites?  Not a whole lot!  This is important to people like myself who try to combat the small, yet persistently stupid, sect of the population who believe man never went there in the first place.

A few months ago some preliminary photos were released of some of the Apollo sites.  I’ll admit, the resolution was small but it was there.  Also, the Sun has a way of either hindering or helping in bringing out certain details.  In an Apollo XII photo you can see the descent stage and the trails made by Al Bean and Pete Conrad.

LRO photo showing in detail the landing site of Apollo XII.

See the little squiggly lines emanating out from the descent stage.  Yes, those are trails from the footprints!

Well, the photos were amazing in their own right but what was more amazing is that the spacecraft was still in it’s elliptical (commissioning) orbit.  It wasn’t until the middle of September that the final orbit of 31 miles altitude was reached.  And so with that, the resolution of the pictures beamed back have increased.

Take a look at this pic below.  It’s from Google Earth/Moon.  It’s about as clear as mud.  You can kind of make out some blobs that are craters and it’s all grey and mushy.  Very uninteresting from a detail point of view.

This is the area where Apollo XVII landed, not much to see here.

Now, here is roughly the same area (ok it’s not spot on but it’s close enough, I was multitasking a few things).  Now, that is some fine detail.  The blobbiness is gone.  The grey mush gives way to a textured surface.  Right there in the middle is the Apollo XVII descent stage.  The resolution on this photos is about twice that of the previous Apollo sites.

Feast upon the fine detail below:

LRO views the landing site of Apollo XVII

This is more important than trying to rub Hoax Believers (or HBs as they’re known) face in it.  It shows that the camera works, and works well.  I do have to admit though that it’s nice to see this stuff and take to a HB and ask them to explain it.  The typical response is that it was doctored.  I digress, for some, there is no changing their minds.

The more important thing is to keep the people that really believe it was faked from poisoning the minds of others who are genuinely just looking for answers to questions.

Ultimately, it shows that as a human race we can continue to do truly inspiring things when we put our minds to it.  There is a lot more to LRO/LCROSS than fancy photos.  To learn more about the mission, you can read up on it here:

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