back to article 55 years ago, Apollo 10's crew turned the airwaves blue

It has been 55 years since Apollo 10 slipped into lunar orbit. The mission? To rehearse nearly every part of Apollo 11's landing except the part where it would actually land. The pace of the Apollo program is difficult for the Artemis generation to comprehend. Having flown a crew to lunar orbit on Apollo 8 at the end of 1968 …

  1. Jurassic.Hermit
    Mushroom

    Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

    Those were the days, no pussyfooting about, no onerous health and safety regulations, just pioneering, risk taking, trial and error, but also a very large dollop of adult common sense which helped avoid too many disasters!

    It resulted in not just one lunar landing, but six, contrary to the conspiracy nuts' claims. It would have been seven landings if not for Apollo 13 oxygen tank exploding. Tom Hanks and his crew did a great job to get back to Earth. Also led to the amazing Space Shuttle program.

    Unfortunately, the politicians and the bean counters stopped investing and we are where we are today, state-funded billionaires playing with their toys and crossing their fingers. Don't get me wrong, they've done a decent job, especially with re-usable rockets, but we're decades behind where we could / should have been, already with a permanent lunar base and at least 1 human landing on Mars. Sometimes the State does know better, and does a better job than private enterprise, and space flight is one such area.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

      No, Apollo was not a better job than private enterprise. It ended up being "flag and footprints" and that was it. After all the money spent developing it, the technology was thrown in the trash.

      The state just had more money to burn, and a "we gotta beat them Russkies to the Moon" goal.

      Prior to that, Apollo was planned to be a long buildup to actually putting a permanent base on the Moon. Then the Space Race happened and Apollo became "well this is whut we gots so this is what we're going with"

      The ONLY reason Apollo happened is Kennedy got shot, and it became "we can't let John Kennedy down, can we?" so NASA got a blank check from Congress for the only time in history.

      If he'd lived, it would have been the standard Congressional "fuck whatever the president is for" infighting that's gone on with NASA ever since, and it's pretty questionable that we would have done more than two flights.

      > It would have been seven landings

      It would have been more if Apollo 15 (moving to 16's rover mission), 18, 19, and 20 were canceled when Saturn V production was shut down. The Apollo 20 Saturn V launched Skylab.

      Nixon wanted to cancel 15, 16, and 17, and Caspar Weinberger fought for them.

      1. Jurassic.Hermit

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        No, it was the height of the Cold War with nuclear annihalation just a mistake away. The US needed dominance over the Soviet and Chinese communists, they would have got the money even if Kennedy had not been assassinated. Kennedy lit the blue touch paper and the political momentum was then unstoppable, and the military aspect was vital.

        Once 'supremacy' had been achieved then yes, interest waned and funding dwindled, and that's my main point.

        With all of that technical achievement and knowledge inside engineer's brains it could have been relatively easy to continue with the flow, rather than an abrupt halt for a couple of decades, engineers and know-how retiring, culminating with the ignominy of the USA relying of Soviet Soyuz space craft and engines to reach just the ISS in orbit around the Earth.

        Fifty odd years later, here we are, and the wheel is being largely invented, and at great cost and delay compared to having had NASA keep ticking over for the past few decades. Space X have done a great job, but it could have been so different.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

          Arguably though it set Nasa and the space shuttle up for long term failure.

          The rush to get to the moon meant creating a massive organisation focused on a short term goal.

          Afterwards you are left with a "what do we do now ?" problem. You either fire almost everyone and close 90% of the facilities and then start concentrating on long term sustainable research and development - or you look for another Apollo-size project which can be built with the same people and facilities.

          It's common in armies that win wars. We won so we must have been doing it right. We now need to build more and better of precisely the same aircraft-carriers / main battle tanks / fighter aircraft that we used to beat the last enemy.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        Nice rant Gene.

        In reality, NASA and the Apollo program did many things we all still benefit from. Not least of which was forcing the former Soviet Union into bankruptcy (the Chinese were sensible enough to not anti-up and sat that hand out).

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        Nixon also killed the ORNL MSR nuclear reactor project and set civil nuclear power back at least 50 years

      4. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        Apollo was private enterprise. Grumman (who built the LM), North American (who built the CSM and part of the Saturn V), Boeing, Douglas, and Rocketdyne (who built the rest of the Saturn V) would all have a problem with you giving NASA credit for all the private enterprise work they did - huge swathes of it as unpaid overtime, anecdotally.

        Modern parlance would call it a public-private partnership. NASA was contractor, coordinator and executive. There was just to much expertise needed to try to bring it all in under one umbrella.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

      "It resulted in not just one lunar landing, but six"

      Let's not forget, it also resulted in the deaths of three astronauts.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        The astronauts knew that what they were doing was dangerous, and yet all volunteered for the role. People have died exploring new lands since before we left Africa. It's a hazard some are willing to risk.

        1. EricB123 Silver badge

          Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

          ...As well as having the guts to post without clicking on the "Publish Anonymously? checkbox.

        2. PerlyKing

          Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

          If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.

          —Grissom, after his Gemini mission, March 1965

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        More than that. At least one Gemini crew died before launch, just not in an actual spaceship - in a T38 on the way to inspect the spaceship

    3. Fursty Ferret

      Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

      >> no onerous health and safety regulations

      What do you think defined the modern idea of "health and safety"? In reality it was the structured and logical attitude towards risk developed during the Apollo missions.

      What you're conflating it with is litigation fear which leads to the circumstances where anything deemed slightly risky is banned outright because people are too lazy or incompetent to do risk assessments, and so "elf an safety" gets the blame. As someone who works in an industry revolutionised by modern safety practices, this casual blaming is an insult to the people in whose blood our health and safety regulations are written in.

    4. Annihilator

      Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

      You're quite mistaken. Apollo was famously risk averse (except for a blip where they considered that the risk analysis was too pessimistic and so should be abandoned), particularly off the back of the Apollo 1 disaster - Congress instructed them to bring back their risk based approach as a higher priority than "get there before 1969" directive. It's also argued that this approach to risk management is what made Apollo 11 the success that it was.

      Following that, the mathematical risk analysis was quietly discontinued for the Space Shuttle programme, leading NASA to mistakenly believe their chance of fatal failure of a mission was 1 in 100,000 (based on "engineering judgement"), when in reality it was more like 1 in 100 (based on Probabilistic Risk Analysis, that was over-ridden by the "engineering judgement"), as witnessed during the Challenger disaster.

      Fascinating paper here:

      https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20190002249/downloads/20190002249.pdf

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

        But if you have 1000 systems all with a 1 / 100 chance of a catastrophic failure then you have a 1 / 100,000 chance of a failure - and I have the PowerPoint to prove it

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Thanks

    I don't have anything to say except "thanks" for a well written article.

    Cernan ended up being the last man on the Moon, something that really disappointed him in later life.

  3. ICL1900-G3

    In some ways, we haven't progressed much

    What towering achievements, the Mercury and Apollo programmes. Hats off (posthumously) to all involved.

    Going off at a tangent, I find it weird that Americans seem happy with regular mass shootings but are so offended by the words 'toilet' and 'lavatory', preferring this bathroom /restroom nonsense. Most odd.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

      I had no idea what a "lavatory" refers to, until I googled it. Is that French or something?

      The "toilet" is the thing you sit on in the bathroom that flushes. It's the "bathroom" because, well, it's the room with the bath in it and it's quicker to say than toiletroom or showerroom.

      "Restroom" is the sign that HR sticks on the door because HR thinks going poopy is icky and there's no bath in there at work. Nobody else uses restroom.

      1. Jurassic.Hermit

        Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

        "I had no idea what a "lavatory" refers to, until I googled it. Is that French or something?"

        Erm, Latin actually. Have you heard of the Romans, they had an Empire 2000 years ago ? It was very successful for a while, until they got lazy and arrogant. History has a habit of rhyming, take note, be careful...

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          Romans, you say? Have they ever done anything for us?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

            "Romans, you say? Have they ever done anything for us?"

            Probably the only important thing that ever came out of Rome was the preservation of the works of the ancient Greeks.

            Yes, I know where the question came from. Just thought I'd put an actual answer to it for a change.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          "History has a habit of rhyming, take note, be careful..."

          Indeed. How's that so-called "British Empire" thing working out?

          1. BenDwire Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

            Oh that's a dim, distant memory these days. It seems that we're now sharing our small island with many of those folk we once invaded.

            History, take note.

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

            >How's that so-called "British Empire" thing working out?

            Taking the long view pretty well.

            Everybody speaks English, most play some version of Rugby, and the best ones like trains and play cricket - in return they gave us some tasty recipes.

            1. Bebu Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

              "British Empire" ... in return they gave us some tasty recipes

              And some rather interesting* politicians...

              as in interesting times

        3. EricB123 Silver badge

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          Not even mentioning "vomitaurium".

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

        Asked once if there was any word in English for it that wasn't a euphemism = washroom / restroom / bathroom or just the same in French, lavatory / toilet.

        You mean like "the shitter?" responded our Australian

        1. Hazmoid

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          "Thunderbox"? asks another Australian

          1. Bebu Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

            "Thunderbox"? asks another Australian

            Probably going out of use now. The one holer at the bottom of the garden and the night soil man are not even memory now. I always wondered whether this referred to the exigencies of the contemporary aussie diet or an exothermic consequence of throwing your still glowing cigarette stub down the hole. (CH4+O2->☆) A bloke is unlikely to drop a glowing durry end between his legs for obvious reasons but I am not so sure about the sheillas.

            I am surprised no latter day Shakespeare has applied his wit to some doggerel like "If its a piss or shit, then this is it." Direct, to the point.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

              "Thunder box", from the ages old thunder jug, thunder mug, thunder box, et alia. See also chamber pot.

              Re: Shakespeare, see Henry IV, Part 1 : "Why, they will allow us ne'er a jordan, and then we leak in your chimney;"

              A "jordan" is a flask-like chamber pot, probably named because they had a similar shape to the vessels that pilgrims used to bring back water from the River Jordan.

          2. Francis Boyle

            The correct term

            is of course "dunny" which may or may not refer directly to shit but is, almost certainly, not a euphemism.

          3. Bitbeisser

            Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

            That sheds a totally different light at the movie title "Beyond Thunderdome"... :P

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

        "I had no idea what a "lavatory" refers to,"

        In case nobody around here knows, that was the name for the un-plumbed[0] wash basin, and later a room for washing. Eventually, with the addition of plumbed hot water, the bath was moved from the kitchen or main room (where the fire was) to the washroom. Adding the toilet came much, much later (what kind of HEATHEN would want to pee and poop INDOORS‽‽‽). Architects still label the sink the lav on plans, and builders still call the washroom sink a lav (as opposed to the much larger kitchen or laundry sink). Real estate agents use the term "lavatory" in order to not upset the hand-wringers and namby-pambys[1]. Almost nobody outside these groups use "lavatory" in the real world here in the US.

        "Restroom" used to be just that, a room to get away from the hustle and bustle of the workplace, today we call it the break room. Later, as plumbing came indoors, they were required by law to have an attached toilet, and later still the restroom became the actual room with a toilet and sink for washing up. It is simply an archaic term which has slightly mutated over the years.

        [0] Yes, I know the derivation of "plumber".

        [1] Ever wonder why such people are full of shit? Apparently they never poop ...

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

      You wait until you accidently show a nipple on network TV.........

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

        "You wait until you accidently show a nipple on network TV........."

        There were lots of them (of all shapes and sizes and colo(u)rs, vive la différence) on TV this past weekend. San Francisco's annual Bay To Breakers race was on.

        That's "accidentally" ... New to English? It's a bitch of a language to learn to write properly. Have a beer.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          "You wait until you accidently show a nipple on network TV........."

          Wasn't even a real one, she had a tassle stuck on - leading to a suggestion that the wardrobe malfunction might not have been all that accidental

        2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

          Quote

          "That's "accidentally" ... New to English? It's a bitch of a language to learn to write properly. Have a beer. "

          I be speaking the queen's english as its suppossed to be spoken, proper like for 58 yrs.

          <<has a accent that varies wildly from cockney sparrow to darkest 'ampshiire depending how drunk he is. oh and the 'l' key on the keyboard is stuck due to too much zummerzet scrumpy last night

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

        Today perhaps. People were far less prudish in the 1970s as long as it was after 8pn

    3. Emir Al Weeq

      Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

      Us right-pondians can get that way too. This morning I bought some "Sticks Like sh*t" and the woman serving said she'd been told off by management for pronouncing it like me (I said "shit"); she was supposed to say "ess aitch star tee" (as per the brand name). My reply "What? In here?" (a builders' merchant), was met with much understanding. Next time there I'm going to buy a bastard file.

    4. druck Silver badge

      Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

      What towering achievements, the Mercury and Apollo programmes. Hats off (posthumously) to all involved.

      Don't forget Gemini in-between, which pioneered docking between spacecraft which was a crucial prerequisite for the moon landings.

  4. anothercynic Silver badge
    Angel

    And the offended reverend? When did he shuffle off his mortal coil? People want to know! ;-)

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Variety.com

      Larry Poland, Founder and CEO of Mastermedia International, Dies at 83

      McKinley Franklin

      May 9, 2023 at 11:27 PM·1 min read

      Larry Poland, the founder of Mastermedia International, died on May 3

      Seems he did well in the religious media game....

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Damn, he outlasted them.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Who the fuck cares. Such parasites should have been a footnote to history well over a thousand years ago.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge
        Devil

        Don't be a party pooper, Jake...

    3. _Elvi_

      ... And what's this propensity for Religious nuts in America to gain massive followings, and matching bank accounts?

      .. Smells fishy ..

      1. jake Silver badge

        Honestly? Cheap and easy television and radio licensing, especially in states with well below average education.

        Stupid and ignorant people will follow anyone who sounds like he has a plan. (See: the MAGA[0] cult.)

        [0] MAGA: Muppets Annoying Genuine Americans

  5. trevorde Silver badge

    One great mystery still remains

    There were three astronauts inside the lunar module that day. No one claimed responsibility at the time or since. They took the secret to their graves.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/poop-space-apollo-10-astronauts-turds-mission-nasa-transcripts_n_3054324

  6. Binraider Silver badge

    While 1960's censors probably disagree, I'm inclined to believe that those employed in dangerous government work are more than entitled to use choice language in public.

    Nancies sitting behind their keyboard expressing outrage to their local church gathering via a newsletter can cry all they like but they aren't the ones taking the risks.

    At the other end of the scale, Ferrari employees will note that criticising the car publically WILL get you fired. No matter how true your statement is.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      In 1940, future Field Marshal Montgomery, noting that 100x as many soldiers in WWI were hospitalized with STIs than gunshot wounds, demanded that all troops were issued with condoms.

      All the bishops in the Lords and the massed catholic bishops called for him to be removed from command - it took Churchill intervening with the King to keep him in the job.

      Beating the Nazis is definitely a goal - but we have to do it without mentioning unmentionables

      1. jake Silver badge

        I am assured by people who were there[0] ...

        ... That the M*A*S*H TV show would have been much, much more compelling (and funnier) if the actors had been allowed to use the language as she was spoke. Dropping the cuss words made it a poor, washed out, diluted shadow of what it could have been.

        People in stressful situations swear. This is fact. It's a stress reliever.

        People under stress also use dark humo(u)r for similar reasons. It even has a name: Hospital Humo(u)r.

        People who don't like this reality have almost universally never been in a stressful situation. We should ignore them, they are clueless.

        [0] Both in Korea and Hollywood.

        1. BenDwire Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: I am assured by people who were there[0] ...

          Jake, thanks for your appropriate use of (u). It almost seems like the old days on these forums ...

        2. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: I am assured by people who were there[0] ...

          When I did a couple of solo parachute jumps, the coach (who was a paratrooper) told us to swear when hitting the ground. "It relaxes the muscles" he said, then proceeded letting us jump from higher and higher platforms to train how to correctly roll and break the fall.

          So, yes, "vernacular" is actually encouraged.

          Ah, and what a contrast to one of the interviews in "13 Minutes to the Moon"[+], where in one situation one of the calmer and very well spoken astronauts did use one of them words as things went haywire, probably one of the few times he used that word. One has to admit that using strong language only has an effect when it is the exception rather than the norm.

          [+] Please do check it out, both seasons are really worth listening to! There's also an ad in there for another podcast, "Death in Ice Valley", which also was interesting (as I lived only a couple of kilometres away).

  7. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    The one where Adam fucked Eve's brains out

    I am frequently bemused by America's puritanicalism.

    It's the 20th anniversary year of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl 'nipplegate' exposure and some are still losing their shit over that.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: The one where Adam fucked Eve's brains out

      War, death and destruction are OK as long as there is no potty language.

      Shamelessly borrowed observation from South Park. The downvoters above no doubt don't get the joke...

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The one where Adam fucked Eve's brains out

      I thought he begotted her brains out ?

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: The one where Adam fucked Eve's brains out

      "I am frequently bemused by America's puritanicalism."

      Are you aware that the Puritans were a mostly ignored minority in North America when the United States started? None of the USA's Founding Fathers were Puritans, and most of them were quite outspoken against what the Puritans stood for. (Are you even aware that what made a Puritan a Puritan was a fanatical devotion to the purity of the Church of England?)

      During the meanwhile, History shows us that said religious cult couldn't hack the work required to carve a (European-like) civilization out of what they perceived as "raw" countryside, and had fucked off back to England, where they proceeded to take over much of the Government, and founded things like The Royal Society. You can still see echos of Puritanism in England.

      "It's the 20th anniversary year of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl 'nipplegate' exposure and some are still losing their shit over that."

      I have not seen anybody losing their shit over that in YEARS.

      In fact, outside the usual loudmouth religious whackjobs (happily covered by the Press, who apparently had nothing better to report on), I didn't see anybody losing their shit over it THEN.

  8. Mark 85

    Colorful Metaphors

    As for the use of the "colorful metaphors" as Spock would call them... It's a time-honored tradition that goes back in time to the beginning of militaries. Even amongst the

    "officers and gentlemen". I never did understand the outrage by some of the more gentle souls who complained except they didn't serve and as former Marine, I guess I never will grasp the outrage. It's a part of the human condition when in anger, danger, and high stress situations, IMO.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Colorful Metaphors

      I read a study once that said an outburst of "colourful metaphors" can help to relieve the stress of extreme situations.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Colorful Metaphors

        There is some interesting research out there around how our brains manage profanity. I seem to recall one study that claimed people who swear are better at language than those who don't.

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          Re: Colorful Metaphors

          I must be really good with language then. ;-)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Colorful Metaphors

            "I must be fucking good with language then. ;-)"

            FTFY

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Colorful Metaphors

      I forgot in which book Sir PTerry used the figure of an officer who used no fould words, resulting in phrases like "you sons of mothers!". Not sure if it was "Monstrous Regiment"? It was not "Interesting Times", where Ronald Saveloy the Apologetic gave Mad Hamish a lookup table to convert swearing into civilised language ("lovemaking lovechilds" and such things...).

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Colorful Metaphors

        Much missed sir Terry. From Montrous Regiment I understand

        The enemy wasn’t men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin’ stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid.

        As applicable here and now as in Borogravia, in fact even more so.

        I have just learnt that the title was taken from John Knox (in reference to women.)

        Lady Sibyl would have had numerous occasions to caution the good comander over his choice of language, I imagine although her riding to hounds and husbanding dragons would have likely possessed an equally colourful vocabulary.

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Apollo Program

    Fuck Yeah!

    Wouldn’t have missed those days for anything.

    (Even though I was a kid and had never heard swearing above the odd “damn” and “hell”)

  10. Hazmoid

    My introduction to swearing

    On the Dairy farm where I grew up, the afternoon milking was not complete until a cow had kicked the cups off into the cowsh!t and followed with the bluest language I ever heard. I think if there were an Olympics for swearing my dad would have been a contender.

  11. Red Ted
    Thumb Up

    Charlie Brown

    I have admired it many times in the Science Museum.

    It certainly looks like it has hurtled through the atmosphere at high speed.

    To have been in it when it did would have required balls of steel!

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