WASHINGTON – It’s been a momentous year for space exploration. The Mars Curiosity rover continues to astound with its desert southwest-like vistas of Gale Crater. The most complex machine ever sent to explore another planet is gearing up for its first drive into the Martian highlands to an area with promising geological features dubbed Glenelg.
The sustained excitement over Curiosity’s mission has of course been tempered by the untimely death on Aug. 25 of the first man on the Moon, Neil Alden Armstrong.
The Apollo 11 commander understood he was part of a continuum -- just one of 400,000 engineers, technicians and managers working on the Apollo program.
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Just as Armstrong stood on the shoulders of aviation giants, so too the designers of Curiosity relied on the powered descent landing technique pioneered by Armstrong on Apollo 11 to land a two-ton machine in the middle of a Martian crater.
Armstrong’s humility and dignity endeared him to humankind as much as his feats as a test pilot and astronaut. As reader Mike Peralta noted, Armstrong lived an “exemplary life.”
The crew of Apollo 1 shortly before a launch pad fire in January 1967 that killed (from left) commander Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee. Before the fire, Gus Grissom had been ticketed to be the first man on the moon.
Then there are the other 11 guys who walked on the Moon (and other astronauts who died trying). While gathering stories and pictures for our special edition commemorating the 40th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11, we were given a peak at the spacesuits worn by the moon walkers. Those suits and other Apollo gear were at the time being stored in a decidedly unimpressive warehouse in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. We are pleased to report that all the Apollo artifacts have since been moved to a new, climate controlled storage facility at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
What follows is just a small part of the Smithsonian’s collection, along with other tributes to Neil Armstrong and the Apollo program.
A section of Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral, Fla, where the crew of Apollo 1 was killed in a launch page fire on January 27, 1967. The tragedy forced NASA to completely redesign the Apollo spacecraft that eventually carried 24 astronauts to the moon.
Its uncanny how similar Neil Armstrong the first Man on Moon looked to Yuri Gagarin, the first Man in Space. Perhaps a case of the genes for the Right Stuff spreading from Russia to Germany ( Armstrong ).
If you want to hear what it was like to be flying the Apollo 11 command module while entering the moon's domain, listen to this:
Neil Armstrong is as usual on top of the situation, telling CM pilot Mike Collins to keep an eye on engine chamber pressure. Meanwhile, Armstrong observes that the fast approaching moon in "plaster of paris."
The highlight of this audio, which I believe occurs at SPS engine shutdown as the command module settles into lunar orbit, is an exchange between Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Collins is sneaking peeks out the window at the surface of the moon. "Tan, it's tan!" he yells. "Jesus!" Aldrin, an MIT grad, is telling Collins to keep an eye on his instruments. Collins replies: "I take back any bad things I ever said about MIT, which I never have."
I believe the red and blue thingies are where the umbilicals attach. These are the flight suits and are liquid cooled. During flight, O2, CO2 removal, and suit coolant were supplied by the ship through umbilicals.
I always loved this story I heard about Neil Armstrong-
Some people see the glass as half empty. Some see the glass as half full.
Neil Armstrong, who had to deal with the logic and methodology of scientists and engineers in preparation for his flight to and walk on the moon, reportedly proclaimed: "An engineer would just see the glass as being twice as big as it needs to be."
I don't like to complain George and it was an interesting enough article, but I was hoping for a bit more on the technology. For starters, what are all the red and blue thingys on the space suits (page 9)? And it would be really interesting to see some of the electronics boards that were used, with maybe some architecture diagrams or even schematics?
"Aldrin said that when he looks at the moon, he thinks: “It’s no longer a stranger. It’s a friend.”"...really it might had been a completely different feelings they experienced when they looked at the moon in the night sky after they came back...it was like a puzzle solved for them...
did Neil or other moon walkers feel nostalgic about going back again there?
Some more insights into the character of Neil Armstrong by Washington Post science writer Joel Achenbach:
Blog Make a Frequency Plan Tom Burke 17 comments When designing a printed circuit board, you should develop a frequency plan, something that can be easily overlooked. A frequency plan should be one of your first steps ...