Category: apollo 11

Everyone Missed An Apollo 11 Mistake, And It Almost Killed The Astronauts Returning To Earth

“Fortunately for everyone, they did get lucky. During the technical debriefing in the aftermath of Apollo 11, the fly-by of the Service Module past the Command Module was noted by Buzz Aldrin, who also reported on the Service Module’s rotation, which was far in excess of the design parameters. Engineer Gary Johnson hand-drew schematics for rewiring the Apollo Service Module’s jettison controller, and the changes were made just after the next flight: Apollo 12.

Those first four crewed trips to the Moon — Apollo 8, 10, 11 and 12 — could have all ended in potential disaster. If the Service Module had collided with the Command Module, a re-entry disaster similar to Space Shuttle Columbia could have occurred just as the USA was taking the conclusive steps of the Space Race.”

The flight plan for Apollo 11 was straightforward, if not quite simple. Follow the same trajectory to the Moon that Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 undertook, then successfully enter lunar orbit, launch the Lunar Module, descend to the surface and land softly, perform the scheduled EVA, then ascend back to the Command and Service Module, return to Earth, jettison the Service Module, re-enter, and deploy the parachute to successfully splash down in the Pacific Ocean. Only uncovered well after the mission, there was a huge flaw: the Service Module wasn’t programmed to jettison properly! If things had gone differently, the Command Module could have been damaged, and would have burned up in the atmosphere, killing all on board. 

Come learn about the Apollo 11 mistake that Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were lucky to survive!

Our Generation Is Not Getting A Moonshot, And This Is The Reason Why

“We could take equally bold steps today if we wanted to. There are literally thousands upon thousands of astronomers, physicists, engineers, technicians, computer scientists, hardware designers, rocket builders, habitat designers, and many other skilled professionals who would love to participate in a moonshot for a new generation: a generation that grew up where crewed spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit was only a historical memory.

Instead of investing a substantial amount of resources in truly reaching towards new frontiers, we’re delegating them to uncrewed, robotic space probes. Sure, the amount of scientific information we can get out of them is much higher for a much lower cost, but getting the most bang-for-our-buck isn’t why we push the frontiers of knowledge. Instead, we’re taking baby steps where great strides are called for.”

Have you ever dreamed of traveling to another world? Even if you yourself aren’t game for the journey, have you dreamed of humanity achieving that goal? For most of us alive today, we have never lived during a time where human beings were present anyplace beyond low-Earth orbit. Unless something dramatically changes, that will likely remain true for the remainder of the century. Humans aren’t headed to the Moon, to Mars, to a satellite world in the outer Solar System, or to an interstellar destination unless we seriously take the initiative to re-invest in basic research and development. Until we start stably allocating resources, personnel, and R&D priorities towards these ends, we’re going to remain stuck here on Earth. 

Read this if you want to get motivated towards changing the course of human civilization for the better.

This Is Why The Soviet Union Lost ‘The Space Race’ To The USA

“Korolev began designing the Soyuz spacecraft that would carry crews to the Moon, as well as the Luna vehicles that would land softly on the Moon, plus robotic missions to Mars and Venus. Korolev also sought to fulfill Tsiolkovsky’s dream of putting humans on Mars, with plans for closed-loop life support systems, electrical rocket engines, and orbiting space stations to serve as interplanetary launch sites.

But it was not to be: Korolev entered the hospital on January 5, 1966, for what was thought to be routine intestinal surgery. Nine days later, he was dead from colon cancer complications. Without Korolev as the chief designer, everything went downhill quickly for the Soviets. While he was alive, Korolev fended off attempted meddling from designers like Mikhail Yangel, Vladimir Chhelomei, and Valentin Glushko. But the power vacuum that arose after his demise proved catastrophic.”

On July 20th of this year, humanity will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human footsteps on the surface of another world: the Moon. Yet history could have been vastly different had one man in the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, not suddenly died. The mastermind behind Soviet rockets and most of the major successes of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s, Korolev had plans to have humans orbit the Moon in 1967 and land on it in 1968. It’s interesting to think that the USA didn’t take the lead as much as the Soviets lost it, and that’s largely due to the death of one man alone. 

Come get the story of Sergei Korolev, and learn how one man almost single-handedly made the dream of humans on the Moon and beyond come true.

Sorry, Donald Trump, It Can’t Be Infinity

“But just because we can’t explore infinity doesn’t means we shouldn’t explore things to the absolute limits of what’s physically allowable. The purpose of the National Space Council is to advise and assist the President on matters of national space policy and strategy. It is chaired by the Vice President and is composed exclusively of cabinet members and presidential appointees. The only two spots for scientific advisers— the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy —are presently both vacant. There is no guarantee that either one of them will be filled by an actual scientist or someone with scientific expertise, even though those are the only people who possess the necessary skills to succeed at those jobs.”

Last week, Donald Trump restored the National Space Council, promising to take America and the world to new heights in space. He also made some statements claiming that this is infinity here, and that we don’t know, but it could be infinity. In both cases, the statements don’t quite match the facts, as the funding cuts proposed by the President are inconsistent with increased exploration efforts, and, more to the point, we know we’ll never access infinity. That includes, by the way, even if we wait around for an infinite amount of time! The amount of Universe that we can reach is finite and quantified; the amount of Universe we can observe today is finite and quantified; and the full suite of things that will ever impart information, photons, particles, etc., to us is finite and quantified. It can’t be infinity, as we’ve learned by doing science.

Don’t bring your uninformed opinion to a matter that can be settled by scientific fact, but rather bring an open mind and a willingness to learn. There’s a whole Universe out there worth knowing!