I can recommend Gene Krantz's "Failure is not an Option" book - a bit dry and technical but does give a very good idea of the mindset of the people involved
On 16 July 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A in Florida on an eight-day mission to the Moon and back. The launch, the sixth of a Saturn V, came less than two weeks after the second attempt by Russia to send its own monster rocket, the N-1, on a jaunt to the Moon. The second N-1 and the …
.... but safety was not nearly as secondary a consideration in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs as it was for the Shuttle, where only the first launch, with just the two pilots on board, had a proper escape system - ejector seats. These were removed for all subsequent flights. Read Mike Malone's "Riding Rockets" for the full story.
John Young in an interview I saw with him talked about those ejector seats. He said that if he'd used it during launch, "I'd have been a crispy critter."
I guess it was there for landing.
They could have kept them for the guys on the upper deck, and they'd have been useful for landing if the something screwed up at low speed. Mission specialists, being downstairs, would still have been out of luck.
Then again the Vulcan bomber had ejector seats for the pilots, and the other crew had to take their chances bailing out through a hatch.
After Challenger they did fit a parachute system. It was bugger all good in a lot of circumstances, because the astronauts had to stand up and connect their suit to an ejector pole, that took them out sideways (and down I think) to avoid the wings and tailplane. But you can tell how useful everyone thought that system was, as NASA made it a crew choice as to whether they bothered to train for it or not. It was put in to make Congress happy.
Safety very much was a focused concern. Placing the first dead men on the moon wasn't going to cut it.
There's a calculated bravery when you are the first to believe you can make metal boats float in water, planes rise above air, or have spaceships land on the moon with parts purchased from the lowest bidder.
not so much SAFETY being secondary... more like overcautiousness.
In other words, they weren't playing "CYA my job is on the line" or "we can't succeed yet, we want MORE FUNDING". It was FAR more goal oriented, and the people generally supported the space program.
Unlike now, where WAY too many people fail to see the value in buying rockets and doing cool heroic stuff.
Read Krantz's book. Safety was ultimate after Apollo 1. I think Apollo 1 was in fact a major factor in the huge success of Apollo. Had it not happened the lack of renewed focus on safety would have bitten hard later on.
So let's take a minute to thank those of Apollo 1. Their loss was mankind's gain.
" And offensive to the fine men who made it happen"
Not just men, you know. Plenty of women were involved. The film "Hidden Figures" deals with the role three particular women - not just women, but women who weren't even white! - played in the US space programme in the earlier days.
For Apollo, Margaret Hamilton was one of the more crucial programmers:
- and by the way, the code she (and others wrote) was literally hard-wired into read-only memory by a process which was basically knitting. That job was also done by women.
I too watched, and had watched the launch and everything else they showed. My dad was an engineer and so I understood that a rocket leaving earth had millions of fiery gallons or explosive stuff to lift a needle where, at the tip, three men sat. I knew what bravery was at that point.
Hard to understand a civilisation that achieved this and then went 'yawnsville' shortly after. It wasn't until I saw the photos of the Mars horizon from its surface that I knew the wonder of humanity's achievements again.
"Hard to understand a civilisation that achieved this and then went 'yawnsville' shortly after"
I can go on for HOURS as to why, but I think a recent politician summed it up when he suggested that we'd get "tired of winning all of the time".
But there's also a sinister side to this: politicians have the power of the purse, and buying rockets and astronauts achieving heroic accomplishments doesn't get THEM re-elected... [but lying and manipulating people into spending 10 times as much per year and GOING INTO DEBT with _WORTHLESS_ SOCIAL PROGRAMS _DOES_ get them re-elected, and that's what we get INSTEAD of a space programl]
avoiding the rest of what I want to say. I think everyone can fill in the blanks by now.
Instead I'll say WELL DONE, SIR! to The Astronauts of the Apollo Space Program, the engineers who designed and built the rockets, and the science fiction authors that often inspired them.
Ah yes! Birling Day and the Tallinger thefts.
As an aside, one of my favourite dialogues from that show. Cue Arthur & Douglas:
- Here you go, Douglas, nice hot cup of tea
- Oh, it's cold
- Nice cup of tea
- Eurgh! it's horrible!
- Cup of tea
- I'm not even sure it's tea
keep in mind that the flight computer was heading the LEM towards a dangerous landing spot, and Armstrong had to switch to manual mode, which is why Buzz had to read off the numbers like that. Armstrong was too busy trying NOT to crash, and was running out of fuel. I think they had less than 10 seconds' of fuel left on landing. Sorta like ending the final boss battle with only one health point left... (and no spare healing items).
yeah nobody ever did THAT, right? FFXIII-III was particularly difficult in that regard (well you DID have to defeat GOD after all...). I guess another way to put it is that when your life is TRULY on the line, and you TRULY ALMOST DIED in the process, the sense of accomplishment is even GREATER.
They thought they had 25 seconds left, but in fact they had 50 seconds left: the low fuel alert went off prematurely because of fuel slosh, which was dealt with on later missions by baffles (or more baffles) in the tank.
That time remaining is also not the time until they just run out of fuel, it's the time remaining until an abort back to orbit using the LEM upper stage would become unsafe: if they'd run out of time they would have aborted, not died.
Also, I think because they'd lost telemtry at the start of the landing sequence, they missed their opportunity to measure the fuel on board the LEM. When the burn first started, it was done at very low speed, partly in order to settle the fuel in the tanks, so they could get a measure of it.
I think it should be the case that the amount of fuel in the descent stage was the amount it was fueled with, as it was not cryogenic, so I don't think fuel or oxidizer boils away. This is not to say you're wrong: I'm sure they did want to measure it (because, well, wouldn't you?) and I also remember that the communications conditions were awful at the start of the descent.
Oh, and from Episode 9 of '13 Minutes to the Moon', Gene Kranz said that there was a guy back in Mission Control who'd worked out a sort of mental algorithm to track fuel use from the telemetry. And in sumulations he'd got so good at it that he was only ever about 10 seconds out on the low-fuel alarm. So he was sat there looking at the readouts to see what control inputs Armstrong was using, with a stopwatch, and desperately calculating away to give them a backup to their sensors.
back in the 60's there were tons of really good quality plastic model kits during the space program. I had a nice one of the gemini capsule, and another that had the apollo command module and detachable LEM. As I recall you could build the LEM with the legs extended or folded (your choice).
not sure if you can get that sort of thing any more..
' "four and half million pounds of propellant"
If you're going to insist on using imperial measurement system, then use appropriate units as that's 2009 tons or 486 KiloJub!'
The units are almost certainly US customary measures rather than Imperial, and one good reason for using pounds rather than tons is to avoid any confusion over which particular ton you're talking about - the US customarily uses the 2000 lb short ton, while the Imperial (long) ton was 2240 lb, and then there's the metric ton(ne) of 1000 kg, which is approx 2204.6 lb.
Give me SI, or give me a headache...
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