Category: apollo

Today Marks The Anniversary Of Neil Armstrong&…

Today Marks The Anniversary Of Neil Armstrong’s Near-Fatal Lunar Landing Vehicle Crash

“Softly landing on the Moon, with no horizontal motion and only slight vertical motions, was a tremendous problem facing NASA. There was no computerized guidance or high-resolution maps of the lunar landing site. The eventual lunar module pilot would have to navigate the touchdown manually. Armstrong was training in Lunar Landing Research Vehicle #1 on May 6, 1968, when something went horribly awry.”

A year prior to the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Neil Armstrong was undergoing his 22nd test flight in the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, the test vehicle for NASA’s Lunar Module. Designed to simulate lunar gravity here on Earth, with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, it was the ultimate way to train for one of the most essential parts of the mission: landing on the Moon.

But 51 years ago today, something went horribly wrong. Engineers would later determine that a problem with helium pressure, causing the hydrogen peroxide on board to become depleted and leading to a fuel imbalance and the eventual failure of the reserve attitude thrusters. From a height of approximately 200 feet and with no warning, Armstrong ejected.

Five seconds later, the vehicle was a flaming wreck on the ground. Come get the story behind one of the great escapes in NASA history!

5 Facts Everyone Must Know Now That The Solsti…

5 Facts Everyone Must Know Now That The Solstice Is Over

2.) Anyone living north of the 43rd parallel will, on the Winter Solstice, never have the Sun rise higher in the sky than it appears all day at the South Pole!

That’s right, the South Pole — one of our favorite metaphors for a cold, dark, remote place — will have the Sun be higher above the horizon all day than locations like Madison, WI, Portland, OR, all of Germany, Poland, England and nearly all of Russia will see at any time during the day! In fact, for a modest location like Portland, OR, with a latitude of 45.6 degrees N, it will take around a week for the Sun to reach an angle above the horizon that exceeds what you’d see at the South Pole, while for an observer in Anchorage, AK, that won’t happen for another six weeks!”

How high does the Sun reach in the sky? Why do short days with the Sun dipping low on the horizon mean the next full Moon is bright and big? And why is Earth so close to the Sun during the winter solstice, but not the summer solstice? There’s so much we’ve learned about not only our enormous, expanding Universe, but the cosmic objects right here in our own backyard, including our own Sun, Moon, and Earth. For those of you who know Latin, there’s a reason it’s named the “solstice,” because the Sun literally “stands still,” relative to the day before and after, in its path across the sky. And perhaps most exciting of all, there’s a bonus special anniversary that occurs on the winter solstice: the launch of the very first spacecraft to take human being out of Earth’s orbit and to (and around) the Moon.

Come find out five amazing facts about the winter solstice, and learn what to look forward to even with the solstice in the rear-view mirror!

Sorry, Donald Trump, It Can’t Be Infinity “But just…

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!

NASA’s Idea For A Space Station In Lunar Orbit Takes…

NASA’s Idea For A Space Station In Lunar Orbit Takes Humanity Nowhere

“It’s a great way to spend a great deal of money, advancing science and humanity in no appreciable way. Instead, why not learn the lessons from humanity’s greatest successes? Don’t look at the technology you’ve already developed and ask, “what can we do with it?” Look at the goal you want to achieve and ask, “what will it take to accomplish this?””

It’s been more than 40 years since humans last set foot on the Moon. The final space shuttle flight occurred six years ago already, and the International Space Station is set to reach the end of its life a few years from now. At the 33rd Space Symposium last month, NASA announced their new, bold plan for crewed spaceflight: a crewed space station that orbits the Moon. While this has the cost advantages of utilizing systems that have already been designed and, in some cases, built, it represents a failure of imagination, vision, and scientific goals. As a result, we’ll be no closer to returning to the Moon, exploring Mars, capturing an asteroid, or any other actual goal we may have.

If we want to accomplish something great, it’s up to us to at least attempt it. We need NASA to share that same vision!