Apollo 16 site snapped from orbit

By Phil Plait | July 14, 2010 7:03 am

Once again, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured pictures of humanity’s presence on the Moon! This time, it’s the Apollo 16 landing site:

lro_apollo16_noon

What an awesome picture! It was taken at local noon, so the Sun is shining almost straight down on the surface. That means there are no shadows, which de-emphasizes topology of the surface (changes in height like craters, hills, and dips) but provides brilliant contrast in brightness features.

For example, the metal and white man-made lander and rover are so bright they are saturated in the picture. However, wherever the astronauts walked they stirred up the lunar dust, creating dark spots. The more often they walked in one spot, the darker that area. So the region around the lander itself (LM) and the rover (LRV) are almost black from bootprints. You can also see lines of bootprints radiating away from the lander and other spots. Amazing!

Also marked are the locations of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) and the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) used to power it. These were a series of scientific experiments designed to learn more about the surface, interior, and environment of the Moon. The geophone line was a seismograph used to measure moonquakes generated by the astronauts themselves using — seriously — mortar shells. You might think astronauts would be nervous carrying small bombs to the Moon, but given they rode at the top of a Saturn V rocket which carried about 3 million kilograms (6 million pounds) of fuel, I can’t think a mortar or two bugged them very much.

Someday we’ll head back to this spot. When we do, we’ll learn about how our artifacts have aged, and hopefully with a few decades of advances — as well as trained scientists to poke around in situ — we’ll learn even more about our nearest neighbor in space.


Related posts:

One Giant Leap seen again
LRO spots Apollo 12 footsteps
… and the flag was still there
One of the newest craters on the Moon


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Apollo 16, LRO

Comments (83)

  1. John Fleming

    Why are there parts of the image censored out, NASA!? What are you hiding!?

    ..just kidding. Nice image.

  2. It must be faked. The wind would have obliterated all the footprints by now.

    :-)

    On a more serious note, I wonder… Has anyone interviewed the Apollo astronauts and asked them their thoughts/feelings about seeing these new images?

  3. JohnK
  4. Cain

    WOW, Burbank has really gone to hell since I was last there.

  5. bouch

    Mortars on the moon? Kewl! Just wondering how far away the shells landed? I figure with with the lesser gravity, they would be able to lob them pretty far…

  6. Jau

    How did they launch the mortar shells (if it is the case)and/or made them explode? There is no oxidizer in the Moon atmosphere (no atmosphere really) to provoke the ignition of the explosives. I must be missing something…
    Uohhhoooi!!! I know what I missed: explosives contain both fuel and oxidizer. This terrible heat is going to kill me.

  7. Mortar shells? Is there footage of them exploding? I’d like very much to see that!

  8. Fake. There are no stars in the picture.

  9. Matt T

    Mortars? I thought they carried harpoons.

  10. Terry

    And you can see the pixelization and the shadows are all wrong. Photoshopped.

    I only dislike one group more than moon-landing deniers. 9/11 “truthers”.

  11. Jeff

    Of course these are photoshopped, the behavoir of the astronauts is so bizarre as to be beyond belief.

    Actually, I debated the scientists at Phils BAUT forum over a week and they finally clubbed me into submission; I actually agree that Hoax Believers are full of bunk. But what initially fooled me was the quiet nature of the astronauts. Why aren’t they out there every month on science mags and shows shouting out the glory of their visit to the moon? Why do I read a 100 page transcript of a interview given by Neil Armstrong in which he talks in lukewarm terms for 1 whole page about his time on moon. If I went to the moon, I’d get up on the roof tonight and shout out my accomplishments until the cops busted me. What is wrong with these guys?

    and Terry, my friend, don’t mix apples and oranges. I encourage you to get over this silly lumping of all “CTers” together under a tin foil hat umbrella. What you need to do is study in great detail each and every subject on its own merits. Do you seriously think that in an area as current and contententious as 911 you are going to get more light than heat in debates. Let it chill for about a hundred years and then in the cold light of the day philosophically analyze the evidence.

  12. Jeff,

    Don’t forget that these guys were selected for their cool demeanor and calm disposition, not their ability to smarm with press. I doubt that the highly-technically-minded man or woman who can keep their head about them while staring near-certain death in the eye during the challenging demands of an aerospace trip using experimental devices may not be as glib in front of TV cameras than we’d like.

    For example, all of the astronauts do very cool things on earth (cool tech, flying jets, working with advanced tech) yet they don’t wax that poetic about that stuf either.

  13. Michel

    How did they fire those mortar rounds?
    With an actual mortar launcher?
    Would be awesome to see them fire those babies.

  14. Matt B

    Whalers on the moon? Who carry a harpoon? But there ain’t no whales so I bet they tell tall tales and sing a whaling tune.

  15. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Jeff:

    If I went to the moon, I’d get up on the roof tonight and shout out my accomplishments until the cops busted me. What is wrong with these guys?

    What’s ‘wrong’ about keeping a cool head? That’s how they got to be astronauts — they had The Right Stuff.

  16. Titan

    I am very interested to hear about these “mortar shells” and how they were used. Is there any archival video of this experiment?

  17. MattF

    Jeff: Why do I read a 100 page transcript of a interview given by Neil Armstrong in which he talks in lukewarm terms for 1 whole page about his time on moon.

    1. Because his time on the Moon represents such a short period in a very illustrious career.

    2. Because people who read an interview with Neil Armstrong already know that he went to the Moon; a smart interviewer would try to find out what he’s like in other ways, since that’s what most readers would be interested in learning about. Why publish a 100-page interview with no new information?

    3. Because some people are not given to being braggarts.

    4. Because it’s discouraging to see people do something amazing and then stop out of boredom and political manipulation, particularly if you were intimately involved in the effort.

    5. Because bragging might give the impression that you believe yourself to be the only one to accomplish something in an effort that, at its peak, took 400,000 people.

    6. Because everyone else asks about the Moon. After a while, no matter how personally fascinating the topic, you want to talk about other things.

    7. Because you’re a quiet, precise talker by nature, and are not given to loud displays of personal congratulations — almost like a test pilot.

    8. Because other people have done the same thing, and you don’t want to detract from their hard work and accomplishment.

    9. Because you recognize that in exploring frontiers, being first to go somewhere is not nearly as interesting as concentrated efforts to go, settle, and flourish.

    10. Because they’re not you, and maybe they’re, like, different and stuff.

  18. Titan

    Here is information about the mortar experiments: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_16/experiments/as/ Apparently they were set off after the astronauts left the lunar surface.

  19. What’s ‘wrong’ about keeping a cool head? That’s how they got to be astronauts.

    Yep, that’s exactly what gets you into that position. You want to be a cool customer in case all hell breaks loose. You don’t want someone with itchy fingers and shaky nerves at the helm of something so powerful, yet delicate.

    I recall John Young talking about the first shuttle flight and how his heart rate was ‘normal’ while Crippen’s heart rate was racing. To Young, it was another day at the office. :) Granted, for any first timer, I’m sure the blood is pumping. I’d probably pass out… ;)

    Great pics as always. <3 LROC

  20. ASFalcon13

    @MattF…from what I’ve heard, your item #6 is one of the biggest reasons. Folks have been asking them about the Moon continually for the past 40 years, and it’s refreshing for them whenever they get a chance to talk about something completely different instead.

    For instance, my wife went to a talk by Ed Mitchell a couple of years ago. Sure, he talked about the Moon and all, but he got really excited when someone in the audience asked him about his ESP experiments.

  21. Sir Eccles

    @Alix Don’t forget that these guys were selected for their cool demeanor and calm disposition

    Can you imagine how they would be selected in this day and age in some sort of Pop Idol Big Brother contest. Each astronaut forced to do a tearing eyed confession into camera “omg this is sooo stressful, I like don’t know if I can like do it and stuff”.

    This week, see Neil voted off the Capsule by the phone vote for being too serious about the control systems on the LEM. Will the judges give him a reprieve?

  22. Martin Hajovsky

    Hey, they weren’t there to make friends.

  23. Michel

    @Jeff
    Is that transcript anywere online available? I would love to read thos 99 pages.

    @MattF Says
    10. Because they’re not you, and maybe they’re, like, different and stuff.

    The Right Stuff!

  24. ppb

    Buzz Aldrin has been known to speak very eloquently about having gone to the moon.

    I love these pictures of the landing sites.
    Thanks for posting them, Phil.

  25. Jeff

    Matt:

    1) yes, but in retrospective , don’t you seriously think going to the MOON outwieghs by a factor of a million anything else he did in his career?

    2) yes, but I , for one, would be very interested in him giving a very detailed, and enthusiastic accounting of his time on the moon. It’s like when I went to the Jay Leno show, if Jay came out and started talking about the rest of his life instead of his current events monologue, I think people would get bored,

    3) yes, but this is not a matter of being a braggert or not. Think about it, in ALL of HISTORY, he was the very first man to land on the moon. I think that transcends braggado and speaks for itself, so why is he so shy about it? Maybe they needed a different personality type astronaut for this job, because this is something with the world’s microscope on it. They needed someone who could have handled the public relations for decades after. Look what happened, the Apollo astronauts mummed up, and we got the boring shuttle for 30 years, and NO PLAN for the future of manned space flight. I mean, if they weren’t going to follow through, why bother?

    4) Really, do you think Neil and the others were that thin-skinned? I mean, Buzz has the balls to dance with the stars, surely he had the gumshone to take on the politicos?

    5) Again, no way is this braggado. He was the FIRST MAN on the MOON. That gives him a license to “brag” as you call it. I see it as a ambassador to the world for the space program, this guy, Neil Armstrong, who holes up in his farm and throws the media out?

    6) Are you kidding me? He went to the moon and would want to talk about anything else? I can’t get my mind around that concept.

    7) Then they should have picked someone else, someone who would have been a champion for manned missions to moon and mars

    8) I’m not just talking about Neil, they all should be ambassadors for NASA, they all respect Neil

    9) My point exactly, there is NO PLAN for future manned space flight, in part because of the lack of advocacy on the part of these astronauts

    10) Every human being is different, of course, but these guys are supposed to be representing manned space flight.

  26. FAKE! It’s all a plot by Obama to hide his real birth certificate and continue to indoctrinate our children with his Fascist-Marxist-Socialist-Nazi-Communistic-Supercalifragilistic philosophy!

    Or something like that.

    I’m sure.

    But stepping back into the real world, it really is awesome to see the landers. I just wish we had some new ones there. Or that we had not given up on Moon landings in the 70s. :(

  27. Jeff

    Michel

    I read it two years ago online and just did a google search but can’t find it , maybe try a google search and it’ll turn up.

  28. Pi-needles

    @24. Mark Says:

    FAKE! It’s all a plot by Obama to hide his real birth certificate

    On the Moon? ;-)

    Or Obama *came* from there along with Mr Squiggle? ;-)

    No wonder he cancelled the Lunar return program then .. he didn’t want the astronauts to discover The Truth! Dum-dum-dah! ;-)

    @ 14. Matt B Says:

    Ah yes the Futurama moon song. :-)

    But I think it goes like this:

    “We’re whalers on the Moon, we carry our harpoons,
    But there ain’t no whales so we tell tall tales,
    And sing our whaling tunes!”

    Although I think “And act like drunk buffooons!” has sometimes been Weird Al Yankovitch style substituted for that last line. ;-)

  29. Zucchi

    There’s only one explanation for all these pictures — the ENTIRE MOON is in a secret studio in Nevada!

    I’d forgotten about the mortar shells. Note that you can fire an ordinary gun in a vacuum (something that apparently nobody on the set of “Firefly” was aware of).

    Here’s one of the mortars: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_16/images/ase_lg.gif

    I agree, Phil, it’ll be great when we examine these sites first-hand to see how the decades of vacuum cosmic rays have treated the equipment. But I’d like to make an exception for the Apollo 11 site. It’d be nice to have Tranquility Base remain untouched forever, without any other bootprints covering up the ones Armstrong and Aldrin made.

  30. DennyMo

    Interesting timing on this post: just last night, one of the movie channels ran “Capricorn One”, a movie about NASA faking a manned Mars landing. Sam Waterston, James Brolin, and OJ Simpson were the astronauts. The funny thing about this movie was that the fakery was done so poorly, I was distracted by wondering how we were supposed to be believe anybody was falling for it. It was pretty bad, I couldn’t watch the whole thing, even though Waterston is one of my favorite actors.

  31. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ (#11 & 23) Jeff :

    Perhaps you should read Neil Armstrong’s biography ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen (Simon & Schuster, 2005.) or watch ‘In The Shadow of the Moon”and awesome movie with interviews with most of the Apollo astronauts.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Shadow_of_the_Moon

    &

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Man:_The_Life_of_Neil_A._Armstrong

    I personally, would highly recommend both those plus Buzz Aldrin’s Autobiography and Jim Lovell’s ‘Lost Moon’ book ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Moon ) and also Alan Shepherd’s biography Light This Candle (Shepherd was on Apollo 14 as well as being the first American and second person ever to fly in space.) as interesting, enjoyable and informative reading on the topic of the Apollo astronauts.

    I’ll also note many of the astronauts have written – or in Al Bean’s case painted – about their experiences and many do advocate for further space exploration. :-)

    BTW. if you think the astronauts are incapable of talking poetically about their experiences try this line :

    “This is surreal, how each grain of moondust falls into place in these little fans, almost like rose petals.”
    – Buzz Aldrin (during his first Moonwalk July 1969), Page 38, ‘Magnificent Desolation’, B. Aldrin, Bloomsbury, 2009.

    Don’t confuse being undemonstrative and not sufficently boastful with having a lack of pride or happiness. These guys were chosen because they were the best at flying test planes and at having the knowledge to do their job – not as circus ringmasters or actors in a melodrama.

    I gather that in test pilot and military circles carrying on like drama queens and freely showing a lot of emotion is generally frowned upon. This doesn’t mean they don’t feel things just that they keep it buttoned up.

  32. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great news & photo. Thanks BA. :-)

    @ # 25. Jeff Says:
    [July 14th, 2010 at 10:26 am]

    1) yes, but in retrospective , don’t you seriously think going to the MOON outwieghs by a factor of a million anything else he did in his career?

    These people were military which means many of them were involved in combat and many of them were flying civilian NASA spacecraft while people they knew were fighting and sometimes dying in the Vietnam War. Many of them had life or death situations and most were test pilots who had to bail out of aircraft and survive some pretty hairy experiences. Without the glare of publicity and without all the support and guidance from Mission control.

    For instance :

    * Neil Armstrong flew a total of 78 missions in the Korean war; he was the first man in his squadron (Fighter squadron 51, ‘the Screaming Eagles’) who was forced to eject and nearly landed in the mines-filled bay – being saved only by the wind which blew him inland instead.

    – Pages 94-95 & 112, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    * John Glenn (not an Apollo astronaut I know but anyhow) flew several napalm bombing missions in World War II – notably one against the Japanese in the Marshall islands that obliterated Jabourtown on Jaluit atoll leaving it totally destroyed. After surviving damage flying against North Korean /Chinese anti-aircraft fire in the Korean war Glenn wrote the following slightly NSFW limmerick :

    Then off to one side of the tail
    A tracer stream did pass.
    A thought ran flashing through my mind:
    “they’re shooting at my [censored]”

    If you would bold & older be
    Be “tigers all” ‘tis true,
    But on a bombing run just make
    One run, just one not two.

    – Page P. 533, ‘‘John Glenn : A Memoir’ by John Glenn with Nick Taylor, Random House, 1999.

    * Jim Lovell landed on aircraft carriers at night -and was once lost when his cockpit lights and radio comms went out and he was separated from the others in his squadron and his carrier. He could’ve been forced to ditch who-knows-where in a very big, empty and shark-infested ocean but managed to find the phospheresecent trail left by his carrier and barely made it back alive.

    Now things like that don’t make the Moon landings insignificant exactly sure – but they are worth mentioning and hardly a *million* times less important.

    The Moon landings were also very different in nature with less individual and more team focus. People were’nt shooting at the Apollo rockets but (mostly) cheering them on.

    At the same time the Race to the Moon *was* in some ways a form of proxy warfare demonstrating key military capacity at time when the USA faced off with the Stalinist Soviet Union in a Cold War that could easily have gone hot and ended in a nuclear holocaust.

    I think we’ve perhaps forgotten how tense and important and close to the edge of something far more intensely scary than anything we face today those times were.

    The astronauts had to be serious and the situations they were in – before, during and in an odd and fishbowl absurd way afterwards were deadly serious and intense. They were involved in fighting for their lives and in striving to explore and win the space race and in diplomacy and peace-making later on. They had to think calmly and measure their words and deeds under immense pressure – mentally and emotionally as well as sometimes physically – not just fly off the handle or respond with wild emotions before saying or doing anything.

  33. MattF

    Jeff Says: yes, but in retrospective , don’t you seriously think going to the MOON outwieghs by a factor of a million anything else he did in his career?

    Perhaps. It’s certainly the most unusual, but it may not be the most interesting, the most important, or the most memorable.

    Besides, what matters here is what he wants to talk about, not what you or I might want him to talk about.

    Jeff: yes, but I , for one, would be very interested in him giving a very detailed, and enthusiastic accounting of his time on the moon. It’s like when I went to the Jay Leno show, if Jay came out and started talking about the rest of his life instead of his current events monologue, I think people would get bored,

    And you’d be justified in doing so, but only because giving information about his life during the time allotted for his monologues is not Jay Leno’s job.

    In a similar vein, waxing eloquent about the Moon every time an interviewer asks about his life is not Neil Armstrong’s job. His job was to fly spacecraft successfully. Being able to describe the mission in poetic detail afterwards was not a job requirement. It still isn’t.

    Jeff: yes, but this is not a matter of being a braggert or not. Think about it, in ALL of HISTORY, he was the very first man to land on the moon.

    Uh-huh. History has many more examples of people who accomplished notable things and did not seek the spotlight.

    Accounts of Wilbur Wright mention that he was also very reluctant to speak to the public, for example. This does not mean that it was his responsibility to speak to the public, that people should have expected that he wax eloquent about heavier-than-air flight, that he did not accomplish what he claimed, or anything of the sort.

    Consider: Scientific discoveries benefit all of mankind, and make our lives better in varied ways. How many living scientists can you name? Does this lessen the impact they have on society?

    By contrast, how many television actors can you name? How many professional athletes? Does their relative notoriety increase the benefit their occupations represent to society by pretending to be someone else, or by throwing/hitting/kicking a ball really well?

    Jeff: I think that transcends braggado and speaks for itself, so why is he so shy about it?

    If it “speaks for itself”, why does he need to say anything about it?

    “Reluctant to speak” is not the same thing as “shy”. Your understanding of the diversity in human personality and emotion seems to be seriously stunted. If a person makes a powerful contribution to the human condition, it is not then required that he become the visible spokesperson for that contribution. In fact, in more everyday experience, it’s rarely the case.

    Jeff: Maybe they needed a different personality type astronaut for this job, because this is something with the world’s microscope on it.

    I’d rather have a successful mission than a media whore.

    Granted, those are not the only two alternatives, but it’s important to prove that it can be done before it becomes part of the general human experience (including loud, flashy, obnoxious media coverage for those with short attention spans).

    Jeff: They needed someone who could have handled the public relations for decades after.

    No, they didn’t. They needed someone who could perform his job adequately and help them beat the Soviets to the Moon.

    Jeff: Look what happened, the Apollo astronauts mummed up, and we got the boring shuttle for 30 years, and NO PLAN for the future of manned space flight. I mean, if they weren’t going to follow through, why bother?

    Blame the American public for getting bored, or the politicians for failing to direct the powerful space capability at their disposal. As you point out, going to the Moon is remarkable in itself; the astronauts should not bear the blame of the Apollo program shutting down or for the directionlessness of NASA.

    (Even among people who care, reaching a consensus on what the next space goal ought to be is difficult and fractious. What makes you think that astronauts talking about the Moon would make a difference?)

    A more careful student of history would note that cuts to the space program and to Apollo began long before Armstrong took the first steps on the Moon. One might argue that if Armstrong had been more visible, he might have slowed the trend of budget cuts — but he probably wouldn’t have kept them off forever.

    Jeff: Really, do you think Neil and the others were that thin-skinned? I mean, Buzz has the balls to dance with the stars, surely he had the gumshone to take on the politicos?

    “Discouraged” doesn’t mean “thin-skinned”. Support for the space program did not begin with being drummed up by the astronauts; its failure to remain politically supported is not the fault of the astronauts, either. Public relations is not part of the astronauts’ job description, and it never was.

    It’s possible to be discouraged and still recognize that what you are discouraged about is nigh-impossible to forestall or prevent.

    Jeff: That gives him a license to “brag” as you call it.

    It’s not a given that people will automatically brag because they have license to do so. Some people just don’t like to brag.

    Jeff: I see it as a ambassador to the world for the space program, this guy, Neil Armstrong, who holes up in his farm and throws the media out?

    How you see it is irrelevant. As long as he performs his job adequately and keeps his nose clean, he is free to live as he sees fit. As are we all.

    Jeff: Are you kidding me? He went to the moon and would want to talk about anything else? I can’t get my mind around that concept.

    This is more a statement about your failure to imagine things than about Armstrong’s capacity for anything.

    Jeff: Then they should have picked someone else, someone who would have been a champion for manned missions to moon and mars

    That’s your opinion. It was not, thankfully, the opinion of those who hired the United States’ astronaut corps.

    Jeff: I’m not just talking about Neil, they all should be ambassadors for NASA, they all respect Neil

    Again, your opinion. Ambassadorship is not part of the job description.

    These people are in the positions they’re in to learn things that will benefit all of us. They may not do it the most straightforward way or the most cost-effective way, but the end goal is much different from being successful media connections.

    Jeff: My point exactly, there is NO PLAN for future manned space flight, in part because of the lack of advocacy on the part of these astronauts

    People just got bored with the space program. What makes you think that media-friendly astronauts would have changed that? What makes you think that people would have magically united into a singular opinion and goal about where the space program should go next if astronauts were more media-friendly?

    Jeff: Every human being is different, of course, but these guys are supposed to be representing manned space flight.

    They do more than represent it; they perform it. The requirements needed to be successful at the latter — which is their primary job requirement — do not necessarily entail the former.

  34. Messier Tidy Upper

    Part II

    @25. Jeff Says: [July 14th, 2010 at 10:26 am]

    2) yes, but I , for one, would be very interested in him giving a very detailed, and enthusiastic accounting of his time on the moon. It’s like when I went to the Jay Leno show, if Jay came out and started talking about the rest of his life instead of his current events monologue, I think people would get bored,

    Do you *seriously* think he (or actually *they* – remember N. Armstrong was one of 12 moon walkers and many more Apollo astronauts!) hasn’t given detailed and enthusiastic accounts of his Lunar experiences already? :roll:

    How many times do you think Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the later Apollo crew s have been de-briefed, interviewed, told to give talks or appear here or there or over there, etc .. Didn’t you see them together giving talks last year for the 40th anniversary for example?

    The public promotional and diplomatic schedule afterwards led to Buzz Aldrin having a mental breakdown – that and the “what now? How do I top this?” question. Ed Mitchell went a bit loopy and got into a New Age thingummmy. Irwin* and Duke found religion and became preachers. Al Bean became an artist painting numerous scenes of the Moon’s magnificent desolation from memory.

    I suggest – no *urge* – you to add ‘Moondust : In search of the Men who fell to Earth’ by Andrew Smith (Thorndike Press, 2005) to your reading list provided in my comment 31 above. Smith went and tracked down the Apollo astronauts many years afterwards and gives a very moving human portrait of these space heroes & how their Lunar excursions have affected them since.

    3) yes, but this is not a matter of being a braggert or not. Think about it, in ALL of HISTORY, he was the very first man to land on the moon.

    Well, as Neil Armstrong himself has pointed out he & Buzz Aldrin actually *landed* at the same time. Armstrong took the first “small step” onto the lunar soil but notes himself :

    “It has always been surprising to me that there was such an intense public interest about stepping onto the lunar surface let alone who did it first. In my mind the important thing was that we got four aluminium legs safely down on the surface of the Moon while we were still inside the craft. To me, there wasn’t a lot of difference between having ten feet of aluminium leg between the bottom of the spacecraft in which we were standing and the surface of the Moon and having one inch of neoprene rubber or plastic on the bottom of our boots touching the lunar surface.”

    – Page 367, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    Plus as has been pointed out Armstrong may be being humbkle knowing howmany otherpeopel worked so hard to get him there. Itwa sateam effort -a national one even not an entirely personal achievement.

    I think that transcends braggado and speaks for itself, so why is he so shy about it? Maybe they needed a different personality type astronaut for this job, because this is something with the world’s microscope on it. They needed someone who could have handled the public relations for decades after.

    Microscope? Or telescope? ;-)

    I’ll quote from the biography of Neil Armstrong again because it says it better than I can and explains it from the viewpoint of the people making the decisions. This was Chris Kraft [the director of Flight Operations] discussing the decision over who should be First Man with Deke Slayton Bob Gilruth [MSC director] & George Low [Apollo program manager]

    ”He’s going to be the guy for time immemorial … the guy who set foot on the moon first. And who do we want that to be? .. It should be Neil Armstrong. Neil was Neil. Calm, quiet and absolute confidence. … If you’d would have said to him, “you’re going to be the most famous human being on Earth for the rest of your life’, he would have answered ’then I don’t want to be the first man on the Moon.’ But he probably knew that it was his obligation to do so. On the other hand Aldrin desperately wanted the honour and wasn’t quiet in letting it be known. Neil had said nothing. It wasn’t his nature to push himself into any spotlight. …We had two men to choose from and Neil Armstrong, reticent, soft-spoken and heroic was our only choice. It was unanimous. Collectively, we said ‘change it.’ Change it so the lunar module pilot [Aldrin] is no longer going to be the first one out.”

    The meek may or may not inherit the Earth but in this case the meek one sure got the Moon! ;-)

    Basically they didn’t want to have an egotistical publicity hound being first. They wanted a cautious, thoughtful publicity shy engineer pilot.

    Look what happened, the Apollo astronauts mummed up, and we got the boring shuttle for 30 years, and NO PLAN for the future of manned space flight. I mean, if they weren’t going to follow through, why bother?

    “Boring” is your subjective opinion. Yes, it may not have quite lived up to all the high expectations but “boring”? Not if you ask me! ;-)

    (If you think its so “boring” maybe you need to think and watch a bit more -have you ever really seen a shuttle launch?)

    Same applies to the “mummed up” part of that statement. I think a lot of the Apollo astronauts have been quite vocal – perhaps not in the way you’d desire but still. Exhibit A – Edgar Mitchell and his whacky comments on UFO’s and New Age stuff, Buzz Aldrin has been fairly outspoken and Jim Lovell is hardly the most taciturn, retiring type either.

    It is true that Neil Armstrong is exceptionally quiet and always has been; famous author /essayist / journalist (& more) Norman Mailer wrote that Armstrong “..surrendered words about as happily as a hound allowed meat to pulled out of his teeth.” (Page 397, First Man amd probably in Mailer’s book on the Moon shots Of A Fire on the Moon too / originally.) Other astronauts however are not – as you can find from listenning to their interviews in the ‘In The Shadow of the Moon’ movie documentary if you can find a copy of that somewhere.

    As for no plan for further space exploration – well, yes, Obama’s messed up badly alright in that department. We certainly *had* a good plan – albeit not a well enough funded one – when G.W. Bush ran the show. (Say what you like about his other flaws & political blunders but when it came to human space exploration, Bush II did have a great plan and vision.) Unfortunately, instead of properly funding Bush’es Constellation Return to the Moon program President Obama cancelled it. A decision which I personally consider an appalling, disappointing and, frankly, disgraceful betrayal of the USA and its hopes for the future. :-(

    “Why bother?” Of course, Armstrong & co. wouldn’t have known at the time that someone as stupidly short-sighted and anti-space exploration and technological development as Obama clearly is would come to power. Aside from that, well, where do I start?

    1. Saving the world from Communism – note the bit I mentioned earlier about the space race being a proxy for more destructive military conflict.

    2. Learning and understanding about the Moon from a scientific viewpoint – Apollo broughtus alot of extra knowledge and led to our present understanding of our Moon’s origin and more.

    3. Inspiring and demonstrating the abilities of the US and western technology to the world – making people’s lifes more interesting and showing everyone that the seemingly impossible can after all be done.

    4. All the technological spin-offs and benefits as wellas theeconomic benfits that spending had onthe economy -the money got spent on Earth and shared widely across alot of araes don’t forget.

    5. To set Humanity on the road off just one planet and out intothesolarsystem -an evolutionary move about equivalent to that first fish living on land aswellas water. Perhaps. Taking the really long term future into account here. ;-)

    How much more do you want?
    ___________________________

    * “ … Jim Irwin purported to have heard God whispering to him at the feet of the majestic, gold coloured [Lunar] Apennine Mountains, leaving NASA for the Church upon his return.” (Brackets added for clarity.)
    – P. 12, ‘Moondust : In search of the Men who fell to Earth’, Andrew Smith, Thorndike Press, 2005.

  35. Ray

    @ Zucchi,

    Vera was no ‘ordinary’ gun. ;)

  36. Messier Tidy Upper

    Part III (Getting increasingly tired here. Sorry if that shows too much. *Very* late night /early morn in my timezone.)

    @33. MattF : Well said – I second most of what you’ve written there too. :-)

    I’ll try not to be too repetitious in just finishing my response here. Me being me, I can’t guarantee I’ll succeed but I’ll try! ;-)

    ***

    @25. Jeff Says: [July 14th, 2010 at 10:26 am]

    4) Really, do you think Neil and the others were that thin-skinned? I mean, Buzz has the balls to dance with the stars, surely he had the gumshone to take on the politicos?

    Buzz had the balls to deck Sibrel when that Moon Hoaxer Conspiracy nutter confronted him too! ;-)

    But the Apollo astronauts aren’t politicians and aren’t trained in the dirty, dark arts of politics putting them at a disadvantage with those that are. :-(

    5) Again, no way is this braggado. He was the FIRST MAN on the MOON. That gives him a license to “brag” as you call it. I see it as a ambassador to the world for the space program, this guy, Neil Armstrong, who holes up in his farm and throws the media out?

    Ack, I think I’ve covered this one already.

    6) Are you kidding me? He went to the moon and would want to talk about anything else? I can’t get my mind around that concept.

    Perhaps you should *try* then? :roll:
    (Yes I’m getting tired *&* irritable here!)

    7) Then they should have picked someone else, someone who would have been a champion for manned missions to Moon and Mars. I’m not just talking about Neil, they all should be ambassadors for NASA,

    [NB.caps corrected for you – & emphasised.]

    Why? Just because *you* say so?

    What makes you think they *aren’t* anyhow – or haven’t been at different periods like before some of them had nervous breakdowns, found religion(s), moved on to other things, etc..?

    they all respect Neil

    Yes. Rightly so. I get the impression that you don’t however – why not? :-I

    9) My point exactly, there is NO PLAN for future manned space flight, in part because of the lack of advocacy on the part of these astronauts

    In greater part because – to my way of thinking quite bafflingly and stupidly – the US public got bored with doing the most amazing, marvellous thing humanity has yet done – especially when it went smoothly & to plan.

    And because of a lack of funding and political will and poor subsequent leadership and direction causing a loss of focus.

    The Apollo astronauts can’t really be blamed fotr that. Although, methinks, certain presidents probably can be!

    Sorry BA I know you think Obama can do no wrong but the stark facts of this lead me to conclude otherwise.

    When Obama leaves office he will leave NASA in a much worse state than he found it. No shuttles. No Lunar return. Begging (paying?!) for rides for its astronauts on Russian and private spacecraft. Perhaps some vague hot air talk of going to Mars but no timeline or vehicles under construction or testing able to actually *do* it. Pathetic – and a betrayal of all the lifetimes of work and effort and love that people at NASA put in before.

    Nor is Obama the *only* President I’d blame for this limp fall back on our butts after taking that “one giant leap for all Mankind.” Pretty much all of America’s Presidents post-JFK have failed to grab NASA and get it going further with human space exploration as the 40 year post Apollo “Moon & beyond” gap shows.)

    10) Every human being is different, of course, but these guys are supposed to be representing manned space flight.

    They do. What makes you think they don’t? What do you want from them & is what you’re wanting really something they can give you?

  37. James

    Not to nitpick, but did you perhaps mean topography instead of topology?

  38. As much as I would love, if given the chance, to ask Neil Armstrong for a dissertation on his thoughts and feelings while on the Moon, I would like to believe that I would start with “I know you’ve been asked this a million times before, so let’s get it out of the way — give me your 30 second ‘elevator speech’ about walking on the Moon” and then proceed to other questions.

  39. MattF

    Messier Tidy Upper: @33. MattF : Well said – I second most of what you’ve written there too. :-)

    Thank you. I appreciate your support and your words on this matter as well.

    Messier Tidier Upper: But the Apollo astronauts aren’t politicians and aren’t trained in the dirty, dark arts of politics putting them at a disadvantage with those that are. :-(

    QFT. History is riddled with people who have high hopes about changing the system, but come to learn that they can’t really do much without “playing ball” and getting their hands dirty.

    Test pilots and scientists are the sort of people who are used to communicating exactly what they mean, and are accustomed to divorcing their emotions and opinions from useful and pertinent information. Politics and remaining in the media spotlight, by contrast, consist of telling people what they want to hear, which often requires telling an audience how you feel about what you have to say before they accept that you have any worthwhile message that warrants their attention(*).

    There are a few who are skilled at it. But not many. If hiring astronauts were my job, I’d collect the skilled observers and truth-tellers long before I’d collect the skilled emotional manipulators.

    (*) Unless they actively and already disagree with you. Then your philosophical opponents are likely to come back with “Why don’t you tell us how you really feel” or some other facile rejoinder that makes it sound like your passion about a topic is a weakness in your argument, while simultaneously averting the need to engage your ideas.

    Messier Tidy Upper: And because of a lack of funding and political will and poor subsequent leadership and direction causing a loss of focus.

    Unfortunately, the space program has been used less as a tool for empirical understanding and more as a tool for political clout. A politician who claims to cut costs by reducing the number of Shuttle flights per year from eight to six will be believed by many. Many think that NASA should be all about improving international relations.

    Messier Tidy Upper: Sorry BA I know you think Obama can do no wrong

    To be fair, Phil has called Obama out on his lack of leadership with respect to the space program on several occasions.

  40. I’m currently working on a comic strip piece on this subject. I’d like to think any new evidence would force the hoax believers to shut up. Sadly, I know better.

  41. NAW

    I guess the best way to explain the “why are the moon walkers not talking big about landing on the moon”. It how everyone has been saying, you get asked the same questions over and over about a couple of days of your life you really get tired of it. Look at the surviving Beatles and getting questions about their life while the band was together. Of what I understand they answer the questions but will gladly change the subject when the time comes about.

  42. LC

    I think people are overlooking the possibility that the Apollo landings were filmed in a secret studio built on the moon for the purpose, and that the photograph at the top of this article shows what are actually leftover props.

    You’re welcome.

  43. Renee Marie Jones

    Just be photoshopped … because we all know that NASA faked the moon landings from a studio soundstage on Mars. :-)

  44. Logan

    What I find fascinating is how we’re taking our entitled, 2010-era views and trying to apply them to people who accomplished these things in 1969.

    The first men to walk on the moon were the best of the best. They were – and are – incredibly disciplined. People had already died to get them there. No one knew what the surface of the moon was going to be like, and the people going there had to be ready for literally anything. If the devil himself poked his head out from a crater, Neil Armstrong had better been prepared to be underwhelmed by it.

    Not to mention that these people were military men. And not post-Vietnam people. Armstrong saw action in Korea. That’s a different kind of soldier. They don’t go talking about what they did – nine times out of ten, their stories either involved or reminded them of death, and with it being pre-Vietnam, the press didn’t have quite the ubiquitous presence on the battlefield then.

    They didn’t go shouting to the mountaintops because, back then, those things weren’t right in polite society, and certainly not right amongst pre-Vietnam veterans. It’s a cultural thing that we Americans should, y’know, at least be cognizant of. It’s our own history.

    They didn’t want to talk about it because they just didn’t. When then Vice-President Johnson threw a fit about John Glenn’s wife not wanting to talk to reporters (she had a severe stuttering problem), the rest of the space program – including the astronauts – backed the VP off. The reporters cared about Apollo 11, and had a mild interest in 12, but when 13 came about, when did they care? When something broke. And then suddenly they wanted to be all over everyone.

    When the press will adore them and just as quickly leave them because “it’s all been done,” never mind the ridiculous amount of difficulty to get to the moon, why the hell should they WANT to?

  45. CW

    Regarding the comments about astronauts bragging about their accomplishments, comedian Brian Regan has a bit on something similar: http://bit.ly/2xGsgf

    Listen to 1st two mins for context.

  46. Grimbold

    Obviously fake. There is no way the “astronauts” would write “Geophone line” or “ALSEP” on the lunar surface in black paint. Who do NASA think they are trying to fool?

  47. Mike

    The reason why astronauts don’t debate people who think we never went to the moon is, why bother engaging idiots?

    If someone is convinced the world is flat, you aren’t going to change their mind despite the fact that such a belief can easily be disproven with well documented scientific fact.

    Engaging such idiots only gives them more conviction that their warped worldview is right.

  48. ggremlin

    Great picture!, but it will never stop the conspiracy people.

    If the biggest counter-point available can’t stop them nothing else will, the Russians never denied we got there first.

    I sometime wonder what would have happened if the Russians had. I think there wouldn’t even be a conspiracy theory. Two things
    1. Patriotism – We did get there.
    2. No one likes being called a commie pinko SOB :)

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 46. Logan Says: [July 14th, 2010 at 3:38 pm]

    What I find fascinating is how we’re taking our entitled, 2010-era views and trying to apply them to people who accomplished these things in 1969.

    Exactly! The culture has changed and the world we live has changed. I don’t think a lot of esp. younger people appreciate just how much different things are. I’m not all that old really and I’ve seen some pretty mammoth changes in my lifetime. There really is a big “generation gap” here.

    They didn’t want to talk about it because they just didn’t. When then Vice-President Johnson threw a fit about John Glenn’s wife not wanting to talk to reporters (she had a severe stuttering problem), the rest of the space program – including the astronauts – backed the VP off. The reporters cared about Apollo 11, and had a mild interest in 12, but when 13 came about, when did they care? When something broke. And then suddenly they wanted to be all over everyone. When the press will adore them and just as quickly leave them because “it’s all been done,” never mind the ridiculous amount of difficulty to get to the moon, why the hell should they WANT to?

    Again, that’s correct. Spot on & great example.

    If folks read ‘The Right Stuff’ by Tom Wolfe :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Right_Stuff_(book)

    Or Lovell’s books or Armstrong’s biography mentioned above – or Buzz Aldrin’s autobiography or pretty much any of the other early astronauts ones, they’ll see that the media put them under enormous unrelenting pressure and was guilty of turning many astronuats – and, worse, their families – lives into living hell at times. Its not that these were self-made narcisstic media tart celebrities who sought and tried to get and keep this attention either. :-(

    The media has an awful lot to answer for here as do those in the general public who blindly follow the the media with the attention span of a goldfish and a love for melodrama over actual deeper understanding.

    People look at the news as just a source of entertainment and shallow gossip rather than trying to understand the changing world we live in and what the best course of future action might be. Everything becomes hype and spin and sensation with very little substance or thought if any at all. The media delight in building up celebrities and then delight even more in tearing them down again and expressing the events of the world through the prism of really pretty sickening and two-year old attitude type expression:

    As the media (generally with a few honourable exceptions) sees the world, it all goes pretty much like this:

    (Now! Now! Now! Me! Me ! Me! Look at Britney – she’s so young and virginal and such a great role model star! Wowwwee! Look over there! Its something else! Look at me! Look at you! Look there! Now! Now! Now! Oh look now Britney’s such a mess! Shock! horror! Scandal! What a bad role model she is! She’s showing her woman bits & taking drugs and all messed up! There’s Paris Hilton! Our new toy! Look its Presidential candidate Obama! Hope’n’change! Hope’n’change! All you need to know! What’s it actually mean, you ask? Oh never mind that – don’t be boring! We don’t want all the dull details just the slogan will do fine. Shut up! Wow, what’s the latest now? Oh look some other celebrities so good! Now so bad! What’s the latest story! Where’s the eye candy! Who’s today’s celebrity! Where’s the scandal! Where’s the image! Me! Me! Me! New! Now! Now!” :roll:

    Such treatment of the news and of our culture is bad enough when its just the trivial things the annoying celebrities and political flavours de jour but when it comes to long-term serious things where people are risking their lives to make life better or gain knowledge and understanding for everyone its gets really sad and frustrating.

    Take for instance, the space shuttle or the later Apollo programs where as pointed out things only became of “public interest” when calamity happened and things went wrong. Who can name or remember seeing and hearing about any of the successful shuttle flights – yet who doesn’t remember the fuinal momenst of the Challenger and Columbia? Who can name the crew later Apollo missions such as Apollo 16 versus who can name or at least has heard of Apollo 13 – the most famous Apollo mission after Apollo 11? Not that Apollo 13 isn’t intrinsically worthy of being remembered (arguabley NASA’s finest hour) but aren’t the success stories worth keeping in mind as well?

    We in the bored public (spoon-fed by the juvenile simplistic sensation-&-slogan obsessed, annoying media) don’t hear or remember the amazing successes – we don’t focus on the good things that go to plan however amazing and mind-blowing they really are. Its all just shock and scandal and focusing on the disasterporn. I guess this attitude and approach to life and everything is part of human nature but .. sheesh its dumb. :-(

    The media do have a lot to answer for when it comes to dumbing down and sensationalising and generally spoiling things. :-(

  50. Messier Tidy Upper

    @41. MattF Says: [July 14th, 2010 at 2:15 pm]

    Unfortunately, the space program has been used less as a tool for empirical understanding and more as a tool for political clout. A politician who claims to cut costs by reducing the number of Shuttle flights per year from eight to six will be believed by many. Many think that NASA should be all about improving international relations.

    Yes indeed. :-(

    NASA in my opinion, is first and foremost supposed to be about what its says in its name – National Space exploration. That’s what it exists *for*!

    Not being a paying customer for private companies relying on them or the Russians flying their missions. Not being some dull Politically Correct government bureacracy. Not being an agency for the shrill left-wing activists focusing on Global Warming and the other trendy environmental pieties of the moment. (Yes, okay, its real, its serious but NASA is NOT the body to be dealing with it. That’s NOT NASA’s jurisdiction!)

    Nor, as I gather Obama has stated recently (& hopefully I’ve misunderstood or heard things wrongly here?), should NASA be the gancy for reaching out to the Islamic world. NASA was not designed as the agnecy for apologising for all the great (albeit imaginary) evils of “US imperialist colonialism” to people who like to stone women for being raped and seek to impose seventh century law and ideals upon the whole planet. “Evils” which consist primarily of buying their oil and not letting them committ genocide against Israel plus defending ourselves from terrorist rogue states. :roll:

    (The same Jihadist infested Islamic World which BTW. has still got its fists firmly clenched and hates us for who we are and what we represent – and anyhow has nothing good to offer us in return or contribute to the world in return.)

    No, Space exploration – and aeronuatics which we find gets mostly forgotten but is also a part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s reason for being. That’s what it needs to be devoted to and focusing on.

    NASAs international role is okay to some extent – co-operation in space has its advantages and is worth doing especially with groups such as the Japanese and Europeans who can contribute something worthwhile but that’s not NASA’s raison d’être which is for advancing American astronauts into space and exploring and developing space technology – and specifically, originally the Lunar space race.

    NASA’s purpose isn’t trendy global warming research or beuacratic Politically Correct education etc .. much as it can do & help with these things as well in small quantities.

    Because NASA is about space exploration and *that* should have first priority – it should be funded for, led by and represented by people like Werner von Braun, Deke Slayton and Chris Kraft not political activists in another field like James Hansen or the unmemorable series of political beuareacrats that have run it for all too long since its Apollo glory days.

    Messier Tidy Upper: “Sorry BA I know you think Obama can do no wrong.” To be fair, Phil has called Obama out on his lack of leadership with respect to the space program on several occasions.

    Really? He has? Can you reference a couple of those cases for me please because I honestly don’t recall seeing them. The BA certainly seems quite partisan and lacking in making criticisms of Obama when its justified to me.

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 10. Terry Says:

    I only dislike one group more than moon-landing deniers. 9/11 “truthers”.

    There is actually one far worse group if you ask me – Holocaust deniers who deny the Nazi genocide against the Jews ever occurred. :-(

  52. Messier Tidy Upper

    Thinking about what Jeff (#25) said about the “boring” shuttle I wondered how we could possibly make it interesting for the public again -and came up with this top ten selection (with apologies to David Letterman & his Late Show)

    Top Ten Ways to Make the Space Shuttle Exciting Again :

    10. Add new paint job – red flames down the side and a giant(er) fin on the back – allow the “Pimp your car” boys to get hold of it!

    9. Load the cargo bay with crates of beer with parachute sand fly it upside down on re-rentry so that the Sghuttle does a random beer job on landing.

    8. Instead of having it land at Edwards or another out of the way airforce base have it land on the Hudson or on the streets of New York pulling out the manhole covers by suction as it goes.

    7. Reality show – Vote the Shuttle crew in and out. All the more interesting when the shuttle is in space and the losing contestant-astronaut has to float home.

    6. Have a different animal fly as a pet each time. (Have fun with that pooper scoope in sp-aa–ce!)

    5. Have it perfoerm some stunt flying aerobatics over the sports stadiums and events on launches and landings.

    4. Instead of having it always take off like a rocket and land like a plane occassionally have it dothe reverse – taking off froma runway and then lowering itself on retrorockets back onto its SRB boosters & external tanks on landing.

    3. Get a giant bat or two and fly two shuttle sat one to play badminton with it .. no wait that how tomake shuttlecoks more exciting!

    2. Mystery tour surprises – keep the crew guessing where they’re going and what they’llbe doing untilafter they’cve taken off.

    & the number one way to make the shuttle more exciting …

    1. Extra large boosters so itcan fly toMars or anywhere else and have another landing craft aboard!

    Feel free tocome upwithothersuggestions toofolks. I’m sur ethere’s many mor epossibilities. ;-)

  53. Messier Tidy Upper

    Yeck. Typos. Italics fail. Out of editing time. Sorry. :-(

    ***
    CORRECTED VERSION :

    Thinking about what Jeff (#25) said about the “boring” ( :roll: ) shuttle I wondered how we could possibly make the space shuttle interesting for the public again – and came up with this top ten selection :

    Top Ten Ways to Make the Space Shuttle Exciting Again :

    (With apologies to David Letterman & his Late Show)

    10. Allow the “Pimp your (or is it “my’? -ed.) car” boys to get hold of it and add new paint job – dayglow stylised red flames down the side and a giant(er) racing spoiler on the back? (Hot Rod customisation for each shuttle for each flight?)

    9. Load the cargo bay with crates of beer with parachutes and fly it upside down on re-rentry over the states so that the Shuttle does a random beer delivery job on landing.

    8. Instead of having it land at Edwards or another out of the way Air Force base have it land on the Hudson or on the streets of New York pulling out the manhole covers by suction as it goes.

    7. Make it a Reality TV show – vote the Shuttle crew in and out. All the more interesting when the shuttle is in space and the losing contestant-astronaut has to float home. ;-)

    6. Have a different cute animal fly as a pet & mascot each time. (Have fun with that pooper scooper in sp-aa–ce!)

    5. Have it perform some stunt flying aerobatics over the sports stadiums and events on launches and landings.

    4. Instead of having it always take off like a rocket and land like a plane occasionally have it do the reverse – taking off from a runway like a plane and then lowering itself on retrorockets back onto its SRB boosters & external tanks on landing.

    3. Get a giant bat or two and fly two shuttles at once to play badminton with them .. No wait, that how to make *shuttlecocks* more exciting!

    2. Mystery tour surprises – keep the crew guessing where they’re going and what they’ll be doing until after they’ve taken off.

    & the number one way to make the shuttle more exciting …

    1. Extra large boosters so it can fly to Mars or anywhere else in our solar system and have another LEM style landing craft aboard!

    Hey, it’s a pity that there’s only a couple more shuttle flights left to try these ain’t it? ;-) :-(

    ***

    Feel free to come up with other suggestions too folks. I’m sure there’s many more possibilities. ;-)

  54. Jeff, MattF, Messier:
    I think Matt’s point 5 is the primary one. Why doesn’t Neil Armstrong brag about being the first man on the Moon? Because it took the combined and very intensive efforts of 400000 other people to get him there – and a great many of those people paid a high price, with their health and/or their marriages.

    BTW any arguments about whether Armstrong or Aldrin should step onto the Moon first proved to be moot. The matter was decided not by protocol, but by practicality. The design of the LM cabin, and the way the hatch opened, dictated that the Commander had to leave it first and re-enter it last; the other way around was physically impossible.

  55. MattF

    Messier Tidy Upper: NASA in my opinion, is first and foremost supposed to be about what its says in its name – National Space exploration. That’s what it exists *for*!

    Sorry I didn’t duplicate all of your markups — I was worried that they might obscure my attempts to attribute clearly — but I agree one hundred percent.

    Messier Tidy Upper: Really? He has? Can you reference a couple of those cases for me please because I honestly don’t recall seeing them.

    Sure. There’s this, for example. A quote, in comparing Obama’s stance to McCain’s:

    This is a better answer, though still not perfect. …. So in that statement I give Obama the edge, but only just.

    That seems like a wish for better support from Obama to me.

    Or this, which said:

    Obama said earlier this year he wanted to cut NASA’s budget and move that money to education. The Department of Education’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is about $65 billion. NASA’s FY09 budget is $18 billion, less than a third that of the DoE.

    Stupid.

    Granted, Obama himself reversed that decision later, but the issue here is whether or not Phil “think[s] Obama can do no wrong”. I understand his relief concerning the Obama administration, especially considering the rough waters created for the scientific community by the previous eight years. My understanding of Phil’s stance isn’t that things still aren’t perfect, but they’re tons better than they were (or — shuddercould have been).

    There are plenty of others. In this respect, GIYF.

    Messier Tidy Upper: The BA certainly seems quite partisan and lacking in making criticisms of Obama when its justified to me.

    My impression on the matter is twofold.

    First, as I’ve mentioned, while Obama isn’t perfect, he certainly supports science and technology more than his predecessor and his competitor did. It’s natural that he’d be more interested in pointing out that this is closer to what we’d like to see in terms of governmental support.

    Second, it’s not Phil’s fault that the Republican Party has set themselves up against the scientific community on several noteworthy occasions — it’s just the way the political winds have blown. Since politics is more about gaining public support than about pursuing empirical understanding of the Universe, I suspect that if and when the winds shift, Phil will be more than happy to point his finger at the new idiots.

  56. Jeff

    Matt and other apologists:
    “Jeff Says: yes, but in retrospective , don’t you seriously think going to the MOON outwieghs by a factor of a million anything else he did in his career?
    Perhaps. It’s certainly the most unusual, but it may not be the most interesting, the most important, or the most memorable.”

    I’m reading this stuff but can hardly believe what I am reading, I’m going to have to read it ten more times before it sinks in totally. You people are worse than my students, at least they in principle agree with me that the shuttle was a tremendous backward step from the moon program. For 30 years, these students have at least agreed with me about that. But you apologists on this blog are totally amazing, you would apologize for anything. And that attitude is what has gotten us all where we are today in manned spaceflight, EXACTLY NOWHERE!!!

    I think we’ll just need to fast forward history a couple more generations, and then the new young of the year 2100 can rethink their priorities again fresh without the current mindset getting in their way.

  57. MattF

    Jeff: You people are worse than my students,

    Wait. You have students?

    I sincerely hope you’re not trying to teach them anything that requires careful or critical thought.

    Jeff: at least they in principle agree with me that the shuttle was a tremendous backward step from the moon program.

    No one has said that it isn’t a backwards step.

    That doesn’t mean that the Shuttle is therefore, as you put it, “boring”.

    Believing that the Shuttle is not “boring” also does not mean that we consider the Shuttle program an ideal next step for the space program after Apollo.

    Jeff: For 30 years, these students have at least agreed with me about that. But you apologists on this blog are totally amazing, you would apologize for anything.

    “[Y]ou would apologize for anything” is a rather sweeping statement made on the basis of a few posts on a single subject, isn’t it? Especially given your propensity to misunderstand plain English.

    Of course, you’ve also shown that you’re eager to tell people what their motivations and actions should be, so perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    Jeff: And that attitude is what has gotten us all where we are today in manned spaceflight, EXACTLY NOWHERE!!!

    Have you seen the posts in this discussion decrying NASA’s direction in recent history?

    The astronauts can be blamed for neither the current lack of goal nor the current lack of political support in today’s space program. This does not mean that we would, in the best of all possible worlds, have wanted the space program to be doing exactly what it is now doing, or to be headed exactly where it is now headed.

    Jeff: I think we’ll just need to fast forward history a couple more generations, and then the new young of the year 2100 can rethink their priorities again fresh without the current mindset getting in their way.

    Hopefully, they’ll also be free of “teachers” who confuse competence with media presence, or who can’t understand the difference between someone disagreeing with them and someone disagreeing with an entire enterprise, or who can’t comprehend that sometimes appreciating that people are doing remarkable things is separate from pointing out that they aren’t doing exactly the remarkable things you wish they could.

  58. Warren

    Now that CGI is soo good these pictures could be faked how come we didn’t see pictures like this from a telescope 20 years ago? Just kidding but you see where I’m going with this…

  59. Quantum Iguana

    The Apollo astronauts will talk to anyone who wants to listen about the moon landings. They’ve been talking about it for 40 years. Not sufficiently enthusiastic? Who can maintain such a high level of enthusiasm after talking about the issue for the last 40 years. And that level of excitement all the time would not make people any more inclined to listen. And if they did bounce off the walls with enthusiasm, the conspiracy theorists would consider that as evidence that the moon landing was a fake.

    I have noticed that belief that the moon landing was a hoax has increased as special effects have improved. Ever watch movies from the 60’s? If they didn’t have the ability to realistically simulate it for a movie, why should anyone think they could fake a moon landing?

    The Soviet Union would have been highly motivated to expose a fake moon landing. They would have been keeping a careful eye out, and they probably had spies in NASA. They would have known if we had faked it.

  60. Messier Tidy Upper

    @58. MattF Says:
    July 15th, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Messier Tidy Upper: “NASA in my opinion, is first and foremost supposed to be about what its says in its name – National Space exploration. That’s what it exists *for*!”
    Sorry I didn’t duplicate all of your markups — I was worried that they might obscure my attempts to attribute clearly — but I agree one hundred percent.

    No worries. It does all end up getting a bit confusing after a while & I made a bit of a mess that comment anyhow. One day I’ll learn how to write concisely but I haven’t mastered that yet! ;-)

    Messier Tidy Upper: “Really? He has? Can you reference a couple of those cases for me please because I honestly don’t recall seeing them.”
    Sure. There’s this, for example. [Link to ‘Obama and McCain on space exploration’, BA blog August 4th, 2008.]

    Okay, first how do you do that – the getting the link in a word hypertext thingummy I mean! ;-)

    Secondly, well, hmm… maybe. I hardly see much that is overly critical of Obama there.

    I will note Obama’s words pre-election which were :

    We cannot cede our leadership in space. That’s why I will help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn’t suffer when the Shuttle goes out of service by working with Senator Bill Nelson to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight beyond 2010; by supporting continued funding for NASA; by speeding the development of the Shuttle’s successor; and by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the Shuttle is retired – because we cannot afford to lose their expertise.

    [Emphasis added – ed.]

    Nothing there about cancelling Constellation program is there? If anything it is sort of implied by the bit in bold that Bush’es planned succesor to the shuttle will be advanced and funded properly. Plus Obama says he won’t cede the US (NASA?) leadership in space – yet that is exactly what his current plan does. I think that counts as a broken promise. :-(

    FWIW, if I was an American – which I’m not – I would’ve voted for Obama over McCain at the last US election. Which is NOT to say I think Obama’s the Messiah or beyond criticism when its merited and I have, in fact, been very disappointed by how he’s turned out esp. on this issue. :-(

    Or this, which said: “Obama said earlier this year he wanted to cut NASA’s budget and move that money to education. The Department of Education’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is about $65 billion. NASA’s FY09 budget is $18 billion, less than a third that of the DoE.”

    Er.. sorry but when I tried clicking that link it just took me to the top of this page – the OP here. :-(

    There are plenty of others. In this respect, GIYF.

    Sorry but I don’t know that acronym /net-speak. GIYF = ??? :-(

    My impression on the matter is twofold.

    First, as I’ve mentioned, while Obama isn’t perfect, he certainly supports science and technology more than his predecessor and his competitor did. It’s natural that he’d be more interested in pointing out that this is closer to what we’d like to see in terms of governmental support. Second, it’s not Phil’s fault that the Republican Party has set themselves up against the scientific community on several noteworthy occasions — it’s just the way the political winds have blown. Since politics is more about gaining public support than about pursuing empirical understanding of the Universe, I suspect that if and when the winds shift, Phil will be more than happy to point his finger at the new idiots.

    Perhaps. Still I don’t think the BA is willing enough to point out what Obama is doing wrong and to citicise Obama when he deserves it – which I think he does esp. on the cancellation of Bush’es Return to the Moon’ plan. I do think the BA suffers from more than just a touch of “Obamania” and I don’t think that helps him. I love Phil’s blog but I do sometimes cringe at the partisanship and the idol worshipping of Obama that Phil seems to exhibit as I see it. :-(

  61. Messier Tidy Upper

    @57. Neil Haggath Says: [July 15th, 2010 at 5:58 am]

    BTW any arguments about whether Armstrong or Aldrin should step onto the Moon first proved to be moot. The matter was decided not by protocol, but by practicality. The design of the LM cabin, and the way the hatch opened, dictated that the Commander had to leave it first and re-enter it last; the other way around was physically impossible.

    Ah yes but that raises the question of *why* was the LEM *designed* that way? ;-)

    Actually, I’m serious there – see the quoted discussion between Chris Kraft [the director of Flight Operations], Deke Slayton, Bob Gilruth [MSC director] & George Low [Apollo program manager] in comment # 35 above.

    Here’s a few more quotes about Neil Armstrong because I think they’re interesting & shed some light on this debate :

    ***

    “Mike Collins later called himself Armstrong and Aldrin ‘amiable strangers’, a phrase by all accounts that can be applied justifiably to no other crew. This makes Apollo 11 unique not only in terms of its historic mission but also in terms of how unusually the crew related to one another, to their colleagues in NASA and even to the outside world.”
    – Page 343, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    ***

    “Yet discussing Yeager’s breaking of the sound barrier Armstrong said : “I had grown up admiring what I perceived to be the chivalry of the World War One pilots …. But by World War II, aerial chivalry seemed to have evaporated … [&] The record setting flights … across the oceans, over the poles and to the corners of Earth had all been accomplished. And [sic] I resented that. All in all, for someone who was immersed in, fascinated by and dedicated to flight, I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late. I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight.”
    – Page 53, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    ***

    “Two of the more important – and rarely acknowledged – points about the Apollo lunar landing program are that it was engineering much more than science – that accomplished the moon landing and that an engineer, not a scientist, was the first to set foot on another world.”

    – Page 63, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    ***

    “Even during his years as a test pilot and as an astronaut, Neil considered himself first and foremost an aeronautical engineer one whose ambition to write an engineering textbook set him apart from virtually all his fellow fliers.”
    – Page 63, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    ***

    “We have always been poor prophets, Walter. [Cronkite] We underestimate. We can do much more in ten years than we would expect. And if we judge that will probably be true, then I think in ten years we will be looking at the planets.”
    – Neil Armstrong, 1969 post-Apollo interview. Page 570, ‘First Man’ by James R. Hansen, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

    As I’ve said, I’d really recommend people find and read that whole book – it is very comprehensive and very insightful and I think very well written – and, no, I’m not getting any commission for saying so! ;-)

  62. Quantum Iguana

    We aren’t “apologists”. You just can’t seem to grasp that over 40 years, an astronaut just might want to talk about other things in addition to the moon landing. These astronauts all had extremely impressive resumes, they have other stories in additon to the moon landing that are interesting.

    You would like them to talk about nothing but the Moon landing, and to continually be bouncing off the walls. We get that.

  63. Messier Tidy Upper

    PS. Just thinking that from reading these comments you’d never guess that this thread was originally about Apollo 16 (crew of John Young, Charlie Duke & Ken Mattingly of Apoollo 13 fame) would you? ;-)

    Funny how everyone seems to forget or overlook most of the later missions isn’t it?

    If anyone’s interested in the basics of Apollo 16 specifically then for starters I’d suggest the wiki-page for it which can be found here :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_16

    (Sorry if someones already linked this here & I missed it.)

  64. Fine, but even if Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 DID land on the mean, it doesn’t mean that 11 wasn’t a hozx.

  65. MattF

    Quantum Iguana: I have noticed that belief that the moon landing was a hoax has increased as special effects have improved.

    That’s an interesting point.

    For me, one of the better arguments boils down to human nature. There have been countless enterprises that have had the lid blown off by boy scouts who knew that the truth coming out was more important than maintaining the illusion, even at great personal cost.

    So let’s say the government had to pay off 400,000 people to keep quiet about the Moon effort. Is it really probable that no one would notice? That no one would say anything? And where’s the evidence of a payoff? (Being paid off, but not being able to spend that payoff, amounts to no payoff at all.)

    The counter to this is usually that the government only really had to pay off a few people — the astronauts themselves, the camera crews, and the top management. Unfortunately for this theory, engineers aren’t stupid. Tell them that they need to build a machine that can take people to the Moon, and they’ll do their level best to figure out the difficulties involved and make a machine that, to the best of their very capable knowledge, will take people to the Moon. Why not use it?

    Messier Tidy Upper: Okay, first how do you do that – the getting the link in a word hypertext thingummy I mean! ;-)

    They’re HTML tags, just like the ones you use to change the text into bold or italic typeface. Here’s the syntax (replace the square brackets with angle brackets):

    [a href=”WEBPAGE ADDRESS HERE”]text you want to be highlighted[/a]

    Messier Tidy Upper: Secondly, well, hmm… maybe. I hardly see much that is overly critical of Obama there.

    Going from “think[s] Obama can do no wrong” to “hardly… much that is overly critical” is moving the goalposts quite a bit, isn’t it?

    Messier Tidy Upper: Plus Obama says he won’t cede the US (NASA?) leadership in space – yet that is exactly what his current plan does. I think that counts as a broken promise. :-(

    I’d agree with that. I don’t think Constellation was really the best way to establish leadership in space, but it’s certainly better than the weird, directionless limbo we find ourselves in now.

    Messier Tidy Upper: FWIW, if I was an American – which I’m not – I would’ve voted for Obama over McCain at the last US election. Which is NOT to say I think Obama’s the Messiah or beyond criticism when its merited and I have, in fact, been very disappointed by how he’s turned out esp. on this issue. :-(

    Agreed.

    Since it’s relevant, here’s another link where Phil is critical of Obama’s cancellation of Constellation (while it was still rumor).

    And here’s another, where he complains that NASA isn’t getting the Presidential support that other scientific endeavors seem to.

    Messier Tidy Upper: Er.. sorry but when I tried clicking that link it just took me to the top of this page – the OP here. :-(

    Oh, sorry. Let me try again.

    Messier Tidy Upper: Sorry but I don’t know that acronym /net-speak. GIYF = ??? :-(

    Google Is Your Friend. Searching for the terms “Obama” and “NASA” under this blog’s domain name returns useful hits.

    Messier Tidy Upper: Still I don’t think the BA is willing enough to point out what Obama is doing wrong and to citicise Obama when he deserves it – which I think he does esp. on the cancellation of Bush’es Return to the Moon’ plan. I do think the BA suffers from more than just a touch of “Obamania” and I don’t think that helps him. I love Phil’s blog but I do sometimes cringe at the partisanship and the idol worshipping of Obama that Phil seems to exhibit as I see it. :-(

    Perhaps. You make a good point. I guess I could settle the matter to my satisfaction if I had a chance to sit and talk politics with Phil himself. Since that’s not too likely, your point seems a valid interpretation of goings-on.

    Lugosi: Fine, but even if Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 DID land on the mean, it doesn’t mean that 11 wasn’t a hozx.

    That’s debatable. But if you’re saying that it’s possible that Apollo 11 was a hoax, you’re the one making the assertion; where’s your evidence? Whether it’s what you mean to assert or not, why isn’t the evidence that Apollo 11 went to the Moon good enough?

  66. Mark Hansen

    Lugosi, perhaps you should check the rest of the images from LRO available at NASA. The Apollo 11 landing site has been photographed as well. Or are you suggesting that a fake lander was put on the moon, with a robotic footprint maker just to give it that look of authenticity?

  67. mike burkhart

    This is the proof we did land on the moon. I just hope we don’t dump nucler waste there like in Space 1999 while it may not explode or blow the moon out of orbit , I think we should not use the moon as a grabge dump . (Apllo landing sites not withstanding)

  68. #63 Messier:
    Why was the LM designed that way? Because the engineers who designed it were probably not concerned about the question of who would be first onto the Moon! I think you’ll find that it was designed some time before the crews were assigned to the missions.
    Basically, the LM had to be as low-mass as possible. Therefore, no space was wasted; the cabin was only just big enough to hold the crew in full spacesuits, and no bigger.
    The hatch opened inwards – obviously!! – and its hinge was on the LMP’s side. When the hatch was open, it was impossible for the LMP to get past it; he had to wait until the Cdr had gone out through the hatch, then close it, move sideways past it into the Cdr’s position, then open the hatch again to go out through it. Re-entering the cabin was the reverse.
    Had the designers chosen to put the hinges on the other side of the hatch, then the LMP would have had to leave the cabin first. It’s that simple.
    The issue of protocol was discussed. In the LM simulator, Armstrong and Aldrin actually experimented to see whether they could change places by moving around the rear of the cabin, and found that it couldn’t be done in full spacesuits, without a risk of bumping and damaging interior equipment.
    This is explained on my website – click on my name. Go to the Apollo section, page 5, Section 5.5.

  69. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Neil Haggath : Okay. Thanks. :-)

    I was going on what I remember reading in that First Man biography of Neil Armstrong – have you read that as well?

    LMP = Lunar Module Pilot I presume? (Although shouldn’t that be LEMP for Lunar Excursion Module Pilot instead? ;-) )

    @67. MattF :

    They’re HTML tags, just like the ones you use to change the text into bold or italic typeface. Here’s the syntax (replace the square brackets with angle brackets):

    [a href=”WEBPAGE ADDRESS HERE”]text you want to be highlighted[/a]

    Thanks – I’ll have to try and remember that one! :-)

    GIYF = Google Is Your Friend.

    Thanks for explaining that too. :-)

    Plus for fixing that link -I did get that ‘McCain, Obama, and Clinton on NASA’ (April 24th 2008) story there.

    Again, hmm .. I see what you’re saying – sort of – but its fairly muted & qualified mild criticism of Obama with the relevant parts being :

    Obama said earlier this year he wanted to cut NASA’s budget and move that money to education. The Department of Education’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is about $65 billion. NASA’s FY09 budget is $18 billion, less than a third that of the DoE. Stupid. Even stupider, since NASA already funds education; that was what I worked on for six years at Sonoma State University. The level of internal NASA funding for education was small (just 1 or 2% of a mission’s cost) but we did some effective work. Cutting NASA for the DoE is just plain dumb, and I’m glad Obama backed off that rhetoric.

    [Emphasis added.]

    He';s sayinga partcuilcar policy wa sdumb and that he’s happy Obama backe doff fromit -not excatly thesort of stinging attack that I imagine a republican proposing tehsame policy would have recieve dfromteh B A nor doe stheBA seem tohave held thisearlier policy against Obama a sIthink he would’ve if another politician had proposed it.

  70. Messier Tidy Upper

    Gah! Typos! Sorry. Out of editing time – let me correct that & make it more clearly and readable & comprehendable for y’all :

    *****

    Phil’s saying a particular policy was dumb and that he’s happy Obama “backed off” from it. That’s not exactly the sort of stinging attack that I imagine a Republican politician proposing the same policy would have recieved from the BA nor does the BA seem to have held this earlier policy against Obama as I think he would’ve if another politician had proposed it.

    I suppose it is fair to say Obama is criticised here but so very mildly that it hardly seems like much more than a wet lettuce slap down versus the BA seemingly getting out the spiked club to hammer Republicans and some others on the opposite side of politics with. ;-)

    Of course I’m human and have my own preconceptions and opinions too but that’s how I see things.

  71. MattF

    Messier Tidy Upper: LMP = Lunar Module Pilot I presume?

    Yes. He, the CDR (commander), and the CMP (command module pilot) made up an Apollo crew. (In the case of Apollo 8, it was a CDR, a CMP, and a PLT (pilot); there was no LM.)

    Messier Tidy Upper: (Although shouldn’t that be LEMP for Lunar Excursion Module Pilot instead? ;-) )

    The vehicle in question is more commonly just the Lunar Module or the LM in the technical documentation and mission reports.

    Some might argue that since the designers were engineers, the important thing is having a TLA (Three-Letter Abbreviation); ETLAs (Extended Three-Letter Abbreviations) are only used under the most dire of circumstances. :) (This is especially true in an environment where rapid communication might be necessary, and where things can be made more clear when communication links are garbled with a well-established phonetic alphabet.)

    Messier Tidy Upper: I see what you’re saying – sort of – but its fairly muted & qualified mild criticism of Obama

    Yes. But the stance I was trying to refute — and only mildly at that — was that Phil “think[s] Obama can do no wrong”. The difference between being unwilling to criticize someone at all and criticizing them mildly is significant.

    That said, though, I, too, would like to see Obama — and politicians in general — brought to task more fiercely with the way they handle space exploration. It’s Phil’s blog, though, and I enjoy it as is; and at the end of the day, it’s not my place to tell Phil what he ought to be saying here or how he ought to be saying it.

    Frankly, too, Obama’s stance on NASA is weak — barely more than apathetic. It’s kind of understandable that reactions would be similarly limp. (Not that Obama’s unusual in this regard, regrettably. Space enthusiasts I know are accustomed to lukewarm political reactions to space, and Obama’s stance on issues doesn’t get mentioned all that often simply because it’s unremarkable.)

  72. #72 Messier, #74 Matt:
    The Lunar Module, when it was being designed, was originally known as the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM. The “Excursion” was later dropped ( before the missions began ), and it became officially called the Lunar Module, or LM. Hence LMP for Lunar Module Pilot.
    However, many within NASA, including some of the crews, continued to pronounce it verbally as “the Lem”.

  73. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ 76. Neil Haggath & @ #74. MattF : Thanks. :-)

  74. Frederic

    I can produce the same results with the burn/dodge tool in f.e. Photoshop. The black dots and shaded areas look artificial.

  75. Awesome photos and with the added revelation (for me) of mortars on the moon. Brilliant.

    It bothers me that there are people in the comment thread posting about Photoshop who aren’t being sarcastic. Moon hoax believers still exist? Really?!

  76. Mark Hansen

    Yes, Frederic, the dots and shaded areas would look artificial because they were caused by a non-natural process i.e. mankind on moon. Or would you have preferred them to have stomped out “APOLLO XVI – W00T” in large, visible letters just to keep yourself and the other Sibrels of the world happy?

  77. Sandy Underpants

    Awesome picture. I remember when Gulf War I was about to be launched the US government showed a satellite picture of Iraqi forces lined up across the border from Saudi Arabia and that really freaked them out, come to find out that the picture was doctored. I’m not saying anyone would even waste the time doctoring photos of the moon, it’s probably totally legit. That begs the question, why has no other country even gotten atleast 1 mile outside the Earth’s orbit? Only Americans can send humans out of Earth’s orbit? Russia beat the US in every aspect of the space race, except that NASA landed a man on the moon with virtual ease by comparison. That blows my mind. The idea that China is planning on landing a man on the moon in 2020 and Russia in 2024 is also incredible. Over 50 years from when the United States landed a man on the moon with the technology found in a basic calculator, only now can another country even attempt that feat? You’d think people would have their own moon-landers by now, since we all have more technology available to us as individuals than the Astronauts and all of NASA back in 1969. With all of the technological advances in human history, from television to air travel to deep sea exploration, the amount of time in between other nations and people launching follow-up exploration, the Moon is the only one I can recall where the US landed there and then nobody even attempted to follow up the feat, until 50+ years after the fact? Wouldn’t it be simple for China to duplicate or improve the space suits and landers and space travel from the 1969 landings? That’s what really makes no sense.

  78. Nigel Depledge

    Sandy Underpants (81) said:

    That begs the question, why has no other country even gotten atleast 1 mile outside the Earth’s orbit? Only Americans can send humans out of Earth’s orbit? Russia beat the US in every aspect of the space race, except that NASA landed a man on the moon with virtual ease by comparison.

    THe USSR (not Russia) did indeed achieve many firsts in the space race. First man in orbit. First woman in space. First rendezvous. First spacewalk.

    The first man in orbit was, of course, a huge achievement.

    The first woman and the first rendezvous were cheats, though, because the first woman was merely a repeat of the first man (but, duh, with a woman cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova), and the rendezvous wasn’t really a rendezvous – the two capsules did not match orbits, they were simply launched so that they would pass within about a mile of each other at one point in their orbits.

    The first spacewalk was also a big achievement, but was done at huge risk. Alexei Leonov almost died because he could not get back inside the capsule (his space suit was not sufficiently flexible to allow him to manoeuvre into the tiny flexible airlock). In the end he had to bleed out most of the air in his suit so he could crawl back into the airlock.

    Kennedy chose the moon as a goal because getting there was so hard that the Soviet head-start in the space race was nearly insignificant.

    The hardest parts about getting to the moon and back were navigation, the size of craft needed to support the mission (needing a massive launch vehicle), and re-entry from higher velocity than had been tried before. The Soviet head-start did not get them ahead in any of these areas, so it was almost a start from scratch for both sides.

    I say “almost”, because the US did have a significant technical lead in inertial navigation systems, and it was these that allowed them to navigate to the moon and back with such accuracy.

    That blows my mind. The idea that China is planning on landing a man on the moon in 2020 and Russia in 2024 is also incredible.

    Hey, even NASA would need to start again from scratch to do it a seventh time. All the engineers who worked on Apollo have long since moved on or retired.

    Over 50 years from when the United States landed a man on the moon with the technology found in a basic calculator,

    This is a common misconception. While it is true that the computers were limited in terms of absolute power, they were custom-designed for navigating and controlling the Apollo spacecraft. They didn’t run an operating system, they didn’t have to display video, they were pure number-crunching systems, designed specifically for solving the three-dimensional navigational problems. So, despite their limited power in terms we would recognise, they we perfectly adequate for their intended function.

    only now can another country even attempt that feat?

    Apart from the Soviets, no-one else has yet tried. In case you did not notice, sending a man to teh moon in expensive. Wy are you surprised that no-one was prepared to spend billions to be second on the moon?

    You’d think people would have their own moon-landers by now, since we all have more technology available to us as individuals than the Astronauts and all of NASA back in 1969.

    No, we don’t. We have different technology, but we don’t have more of it.

    Besides, what use is an Xbox when trying to get to the moon? It can’t navigate your spaceship (without extensive reprogramming). Similarly, what use is remote control central locking when trying to get to the moon?

    The technology we have today is based on consumerism. What do people want as the next status symbol? What’s the next “must-have” accessory?

    Consumer electronics is all about creating a need for something that no-one needs. None of this technology is of any use (except in the vaguest and most basic of ways) for solving the problems of orbital rendezvous.

    With all of the technological advances in human history, from television to air travel to deep sea exploration, the amount of time in between other nations and people launching follow-up exploration, the Moon is the only one I can recall where the US landed there and then nobody even attempted to follow up the feat, until 50+ years after the fact?

    Yeah, did you have a point?

    Most of your examples of technology make money for some corporation or other. Going to the moon doesn’t give short-term profits.

    Wouldn’t it be simple for China to duplicate or improve the space suits and landers and space travel from the 1969 landings? That’s what really makes no sense.

    And how would they get their hands on the design details for that tech?

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