Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Apollo experiment that's still working

The experiment that Apollo 11 left on the Moon are still working, The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. "it studies the Earth-Moon system and returns data to scientific centers around the world, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory".

Three things the experiment has proved:
-The Moon is moving away from the Earth
-The Moon has a fluid core
-Einstein's Theory of Relativity is accurate

University of Maryland physics professor Carroll Alley was the project's principal investigator during the Apollo years, and he follows its progress today. "Using these mirrors," explains Alley, "we can 'ping' the moon with laser pulses and measure the Earth-moon distance very precisely. This is a wonderful way to learn about the moon's orbit and to test theories of gravity."

Here's how it works: A laser pulse shoots out of a telescope on Earth, crosses the Earth-moon divide, and hits the array. Because the mirrors are "corner-cube reflectors," they send the pulse straight back where it came from. "It's like hitting a ball into the corner of a squash court," explains Alley. Back on Earth, telescopes intercept the returning pulse--"usually just a single photon," he marvels.

The round-trip travel time pinpoints the moon's distance with staggering precision: better than a few centimeters out of 385,000 km, typically.

Buzz on Space policy

From Discovery Channel here:
Aldrin urged Congress and the American people to use the memory of Apollo 11 as inspiration to prepare for a space journey to Mars.

"Apollo 11 was a symbol of what a great nation and a great people can do if we work hard and work together," he said.

"America, do you still dream a great dream? Do you still believe in yourself?" he went on to ask. "I call on the next generation and our political leaders to give this answer: Yes We Can!"

Kind of ride on Obama's coat tails eh? But Buzz is right. WE Can go to MARS! We got to the Moon 40 years ago. Let's get started and get to Mars soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Col. Tim Kopra (Go Army)

He is a link to Go Army where you can leave a question for Col. Kopra to answer. He'll tweet from space too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Neil Armstrong's comments on Cronkite's passing

"For a news analyst and reporter of the happenings of the day to be successful, he or she needs three things: accuracy, timeliness, and the trust of the audience. Many are fortunate to have the first two. The trust of the audience must be earned," said Armstrong.

"Walter Cronkite seemed to enjoy the highest of ratings. He had a passion for human space exploration, an enthusiasm that was contagious, and the trust of his audience. He will be missed."

from Flame Trench here.

NASA Mission Control in Memory of Walter Cronkite

RIP Walter Cronkite

When I was growing up I idolized Walter Cronkite and equated him with the space program. But after his comments about the Vietnam War my views changed about him and the way TV NEWS portrayed National events. (I won't get into that here on this blog.) But he was a great Newsman and CBS Anchorman. And would the space program have done without Walter? My condolences and prayers go out to his family in his memory.

HT from Little Green Footballs here.

WSJ Photo Journal to 40th Moon Landing

Earthrise from Apollo 11

Apollo 11's historic journey here at the WSJ.

Friday, July 17, 2009

LEM Eagle and Buzz

NASA/Neil Armstrong

News to Hoaxer's: We did land on the Moon!

LRO picture of Apollo 11 Landing site

Krauthammer on 40th Moon Landing Aniversary

Yes, we have a financial crisis. No one's asking for a crash Manhattan Project. All we need is sufficient funding from the hundreds of billions being showered from Washington -- "stimulus" monies that, unlike Eisenhower's interstate highway system or Kennedy's Apollo program, will leave behind not a trace on our country or our consciousness -- to build Constellation and get us back to Earth orbit and the moon a half-century after the original landing.

Why do it? It's not for practicality. We didn't go to the moon to spin off cooling suits and freeze-dried fruit. Any technological return is a bonus, not a reason. We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities. We choose to do such things, said JFK, "not because they are easy, but because they are hard." And when you do such magnificently hard things -- send sailing a Ferdinand Magellan or a Neil Armstrong -- you open new human possibility in ways utterly unpredictable.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

1963 Boeing Ad in Time

Boeing Ad

Apollo 11 Flight Journal

And if you want the transcripts before launch of the Apollo 11 go here.
PAO: ...2, 1, zero, all engine running, LIFT-OFF!

[Public Affairs Officer Jack King, whose coolness is legendary, finally succumbs to the tension and is clearly heard to say "all engine running" instead of "all engines running".]

PAO: We have a lift-off, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11.

000:00:04 Armstrong: Roger. Clock.

PAO: Tower cleared.

[As planned, control of the flight now passes from the Launch Control Center at Cape Kennedy, Florida to the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas. There, communication with the crew is handled by an astronaut sitting at the CapCom console; in this case, Bruce McCandless. The PAO also switches, and Jack King relinquishes the commentary to the Houston PAO, whose voice is heard from now on.]

000:00:13 Armstrong: Roger. We got a roll program.

000:00:15 McCandless: Roger. Roll. [Long pause.]

PAO: Neil Armstrong reporting their roll and pitch program which puts Apollo 11 on a proper heading. Plus 30 seconds.

000:00:34 Armstrong: Roll's complete and the pitch is programming. [Pause.]

000:00:44 Armstrong: One Bravo. (Long pause.)

PAO: One Bravo is a abort control mode.

PAO: Altitude's 2 miles.

000:01:02 McCandless: Apollo 11, Houston. You're good at 1 minute.

000:01:06 Armstrong: Roger. [Long pause.]

PAO: Down range 1 mile, altitude 3, 4 miles now. Velocity 2,195 feet per second.

PAO: We're through the region of maximum dynamic pressure now.

Real Time Audio of the Apollo Mission

This is so cool. A site of the actual audio recordings of the mission played in real-time. Follow the whole mission from day one to the end here.

Apollo 11 Video restoration tapes

I saw the press conference this morning at the Newseum. The actual tapes were stored at Goddard and were reused or "degaussed." So the slow scan tapes are gone. What the restoration team did was get the best copies from the TV tapes and contracted Lowry to restore the transmission tape. Listening to some of the press questions seems like they really want to present the "hoaxers" side of the story. But then again that is the MSM for you. I see the "Hoaxers" comments on youtube. It is sad that some still don't believe we really did land on the Moon. The samples of the Restoration of the Moon Landing EVA are here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Meaning of Apollo

Space.Com has a video on the 40Th Anniversary of The Moon landing and meaning of the Apollo program here.

The series of articles on Space.Com are here:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Saturn V

Excerpt from Air and Space Museum here:
The manned Apollo missions were each launched aboard a Saturn V launch vehicle. The "V" designation originates from the five powerful F-1 engines that powered the first stage of the rocket. The Saturn V remains the largest and most powerful U.S. expendable launch vehicle ever built.

The Apollo spacecraft, including the Command Module (CM), Service Module (SM) and Lunar Module (LM) sat atop the launch vehicle. Above the CM was the emergency escape system.

The complete assembly including the Apollo spacecraft and the Saturn launch vehicle stood 363 feet tall (110.6 meters) and weighed over 6 million pounds (2.7 million kg).

The Saturn V launch vehicle itselft consisted of three stages:

First Stage (S-IC): The first stage includes the five F-1 engines producing nearly 7.7 million pounds of thrust. These powerful engines are required to lift the heavy rocket fast enough to escape Earth's gravity. The first stage engines are burned at liftoff and last for about 2.5 minutes taking the vehicle and payload to an altitude of 38 miles. The first stage then separates and burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Second Stage (S-II): The second stage conatins five J-2 engines. After the first stage is discarded, the second stage burns for approximately 6 minutes taking the vehicle and payload to 115 miles altitude. The second stage is then also discarded.

Third Stage (S-IVB): The third stage contains one J-2 engine. This engine burns for 2.75 minutes boosting the spacecraft to orbital velocity of about 17,500 mph. The third stage is shut down with fuel remaining and remains attached the spacecraft in Earth orbit. The J-2 engine is reignited to propel the spacecraft into translunar trajectory (speed of 24,500 mph) before finally being discarded.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Top Ten Scientific Discoveries Made During Apollo Exploration of the Moon

From the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum here:
1. The Moon is not a primordial object; it is an evolved terrestrial planet with internal zoning similar to that of Earth.

2. The Moon is ancient and still preserves an early history (the first billion years) that must be common to all terrestrial planets.

3. The youngest Moon rocks are virtually as old as the oldest Earth rocks. The earliest processes and events that probably affected both planetary bodies can now only be found on the Moon.

4. The Moon and Earth are genetically related and formed from different proportions of a common reservoir of materials.

5. The Moon is lifeless; it contains no living organisms, fossils, or native organic compounds.

6. All Moon rocks originated through high-temperature processes with little or no involvement with water. They are roughly divisible into three types: basalts, anorthosites, and breccias.

7. Early in its history, the Moon was melted to great depths to form a "magma ocean." The lunar highlands contain the remnants of early, low density rocks that floated to the surface of the magma ocean.

8. The lunar magma ocean was followed by a series of huge asteroid impacts that created basins which were later filled by lava flows.

9. The Moon is slightly asymmetrical in bulk form, possibly as a consequence of its evolution under Earth's gravitational influence. Its crust is thicker on the far side, while most volcanic basins -- and unusual mass concentrations -- occur on the near side.

10. The surface of the Moon is covered by a rubble pile of rock fragments and dust, called the lunar regolith, that contains a unique radiation history of the Sun which is of importance to understanding climate changes on Earth.

I find Number 10 most interesting. Have the climatologists figured in their climate change models the lunar regolith radiation history of the Sun? Just wondering. I'll have to go investigate.

Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia"

Smithsonian Photograph
I've been up and close to the "Columbia" Command Module at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. It is a great exhibit.

Facts about the Apollo 11 Command Module here:

The blunt-end design for the Command Module was chosen to build upon experience gained with the similarly shaped Mercury and Gemini spacecraft. The spacecraft reentered the atmosphere with its protective heat shield facing forward. Layers of special "ablative" material on the shield were purposely allowed to burn away during reentry to help dissipate the extremely high temperatures caused by atmospheric friction.

Height: 3.2 m (10 ft 7 in)
Maximum Diameter: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
Weight: 5,900 kg (13,000 lb)
Manufacturer: North American Rockwell for NASA
Launch Vehicle: Saturn V

LRO first Moon Pictures

LRO or Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken its first pictures of the Moon on June 30. The first pictures were taken on the moon's terminator (line separating light and dark).
"Our first images were taken along the moon's terminator -- the dividing line between day and night -- making us initially unsure of how they would turn out," said LROC Principal Investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University in Tempe. "Because of the deep shadowing, subtle topography is exaggerated, suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface. In reality, the area is similar to the region where the Apollo 16 astronauts safely explored in 1972. While these are magnificent in their own right, the main message is that LROC is nearly ready to begin its mission."

More pictures will come as LRO orbits around the Moon. It is in an elliptical polar orbit around the Moon and by next month its orbit will become circular about 31 miles above the Moons surface.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Apollo 11 Landing site

From a link to the National Space and Air Museum here about the Apollo 11 landing site:

Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility)
00.67408 °N latitude, 23.47297 °E longitude

For the first lunar landing, Mare Tranquilitatis was the site chosen because it is a relatively smooth and level area. It does, however, have a high density of craters and in the last seconds before landing, the LM had to be manually piloted by Neil Armstrong to avoid a sharp-rimmed ray crater measuring some 180 meters across and 30 meters deep known as West. The LM landed safely some 6 km from the originally intended landing site.

The Apollo 11 LM landed approximately 400 meters west of West crater and 20km south-southwest of the crater Sabine D in the southwestern part of Mare Tranquilitatis. The lunar surface at the landing site consisted of fragmental debris ranging in size from fine particles to blocks about 0.8 meter wide.

The landing site is 41.5 km north-northeast of the western promontory of the Kant Plateau, which is the nearest highland region. The Surveyor 5 spacecraft is approximately 25 km north-northwest of the Apollo 11 landing site, and the impact crater formed by Ranger 8 is 69 km northeast of the landing site.

Happy Fourth to All!

NASA Apollo 11 launch

Moonstruck on the Space Coast