SpaceJibe

June 23, 2014

NASA moving ahead with asteroid-capture plan, wants to grab one in 2019

Filed under: Asteroids, Cool, Gadgets, Inner Solar System, Moons, Space Ships, Wierd — bferrari @ 1:50 pm
This undated handout two-picture combo of artist conceptions provided by NASA/JPL Caltech shows what NASA says are good candidates for a mission to capture an asteroid, haul it to the moon for astronauts to visit.(AP Photo/NASA/JPL Caltech)

This undated handout two-picture combo of artist conceptions provided by NASA/JPL Caltech shows what NASA says are good candidates for a mission to capture an asteroid, haul it to the moon for astronauts to visit.(AP Photo/NASA/JPL Caltech)

When NASA said last year it was planning to capture an asteroid, park it close to the moon and later send astronauts to explore it, many people had to check the calendar to confirm the space agency wasn’t simply demonstrating it had a sense of humor.

Well, make no mistake, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is certainly real, and the agency recently offered a progress report on its ambitious plan, which essentially involves grabbing a space rock using a robotic spacecraft before putting it in a stable orbit around the moon.

The process of getting hold of the asteroid has been likened to popping it into a bag with a drawstring

“You bag it,” NASA’s Donald Yeomans said. “You attach the solar propulsion module to de-spin it and bring it back to where you want it.”

The space agency is currently in the middle of deciding which of two missions to go with – the first idea is to “fully capture” a small asteroid in open space, while the second is to collect a “boulder-sized sample” from a much bigger asteroid.

2019

The mission, whichever it decides to go for, is on schedule to take place just five years from now, in 2019, with NASA planning to make its final decision on which asteroid to capture a year earlier.

In the meantime, concept studies are set to take place over a six-month period, beginning this July, in which the agency will work on refining key concepts and technologies for its grand mission.

“With these system concept studies, we are taking the next steps to develop capabilities needed to send humans deeper into space than ever before, and ultimately to Mars, while testing new techniques to protect Earth from asteroids,” William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said in a release.

2011 MD

So far, nine asteroids have been selected as candidates for ARM, with each ticking the boxes for orbit type and size. The sun-orbiting Spitzer space telescope has identified one asteroid in particular – 2011 MD – as having the ideal characteristics for the full-capture mission. Spitzer’s data shows 2011 MD to be about 20 feet in size, fitting nicely within NASA’s desire for a rock no larger than 32 feet. Once secured in a stable orbit, the agency plans to send astronauts to explore the asteroid some time in the 2020s.

“Observing these elusive remnants that may date from the formation of our solar system as they come close to Earth is expanding our understanding of our world and the space it resides in,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Closer study of these objects challenge our capabilities for future exploration and will help us test ways to protect our planet from impact.”

NASA has said it thinks there are some 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) flying around ‘near’ Earth, with each one big enough to ruin our day should it score a direct hit. PHAs are defined by NASA as any space rock currently within five million miles of Earth with a diameter greater than 330 feet.

Source

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June 2, 2014

‘Moon’ shots: Decades-old photos of Apollo training surface

Filed under: Cool, Inner Solar System, Moons, Space Exploration — bferrari @ 11:06 am

Before Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they went to Hawaii to train on the Big Island’s lunar landscapes.

Now, decades-old photos are surfacing of astronauts scooping up Hawaii’s soil and riding across volcanic fields in a “moon buggy” vehicle.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, a Hawaii state agency, is displaying the photos at its Hilo headquarters. Rob Kelso, the agency’s executive director, found the images at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Astronauts from Apollo missions 13 through 17 trained in Hawaii as did some back up crews, Kelso said.

Some training was on Mauna Kea volcano, where glacial runoff crushed and refined rock into power. Astronauts also trained on recent lava flows.

Today, robots are tested on the Big Island for moon and Mars missions.

In recent years, engineers have tested technology to pull oxygen out of the island’s dirt, which is volcanic basalt like the Martian and lunar soil. Future missions could use this technology to extract oxygen from the land instead of taking it along. The oxygen could be used for breathing, to make fuel or for other purposes.

Kelso said scientists are also interested in testing robots at the Big Island’s lava tubes and lava tube skylight holes, which resemble similar formations recently spotted in high-definition images taken by satellites orbiting the moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Lava tubes are tunnels made when lava forms a solid roof after flowing steadily in a confined area for hours. Skylight holes are formed when part of the tube breaks.

Source 

February 5, 2013

Could 3D printers build a future moon base?

Filed under: Cool, Earth, Inner Solar System, Moons, Wierd — bferrari @ 6:45 am
The European Space Agency and a consortium of industry professionals investigated the feasibility of using 3D printing to build a lunar base. (ESA/Foster + Partners)

The European Space Agency and a consortium of industry professionals investigated the feasibility of using 3D printing to build a lunar base. (ESA/Foster + Partners)

 

The technology behind 3D printing has allowed users to craft musical instruments and prosthetic limbs, and now European scientists are taking a serious look at printing their own moon base.

The European Space Agency (ESA) study is investigating how practical constructing a manned base on the moon only using 3D printing technology could be, given that it would rely primarily on lunar dirt for building materials.

“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” Laurent Pambaguian, who heads the project for ESA, said in a statement. “Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”

A moon base with style

Pambaguian’s team partnered with the London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners to draw up ideas for a 3D-printed moon colony. [See photos of the 3D-printed moon base ]

“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners said in a statement. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”

Foster + Partners’ 3D printed design is a simple four-person moon base that can be made completely out of repurposed moon dirt, which scientists call “regolith.”

Because the entire design is made primarily from indigenous lunar materials moon, there is no need to transport costly materials from the Earth into space. The base would be built using a robotic printer roving over an inflatable dome.

“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team said. “The new possibilities this work opens up can then be considered by international space agencies as part of the current development of a common exploration strategy.”

Hollow moon dirt walls

The base would have a cell-like but strong frame resembling the structure of bird bones that will protect lunar residents from gamma radiation and micrometeorites that could destroy a less robust build.

ESA and the agency’s partners have already built part of the base. Using a mixture of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides meant to simulate regolith — a mixture of dust and dirt — found on the moon, ESA and its partners printed a 2,205-pound (1,000 kilograms) piece of what part of the home could look like.

“The planned site for the base is at the moon’s southern pole, where there is near perpetual sunlight on the horizon,” officials for Foster and Partners said in a statement.

The firm has started trying out the 3D printer in conditions similar to those on the surface of the moon. The team has started printing various structures inside a vacuum chamber.

This isn’t the first time a space agency has considered 3D printing a lunar base  . Last year, NASA officials challenged researchers at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. to 3D print the ceramic-like simulated lunar regolith into smooth, cylindrical shapes to test the strength of the material.

Foster + Partners is also partnering with other firms to build the first private spaceport in the world. Known as Spaceport America, the $209 million base will serve as a hub for commercial spaceflight. The spaceport should be completed later this year.

January 16, 2013

NASA, Europeans uniting to send space capsule to moon, flights targeted for 2017 and 2021

Filed under: Cool, Gadgets, Inner Solar System, Moons, Space Ships — bferrari @ 3:58 pm

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. –  NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to get astronauts beyond Earth’s orbit.

Jan. 16, 2013: An artist's concept of the Orion Service Module. When the Orion spacecraft blasts off atop NASA's Space Launch System rocket in 2017, attached will be the ESA-provided service module the powerhouse that fuels and propels the Orion spacecraft. (NASA)

Jan. 16, 2013: An artist’s concept of the Orion Service Module. When the Orion spacecraft blasts off atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in 2017, attached will be the ESA-provided service module the powerhouse that fuels and propels the Orion spacecraft. (NASA)

Europe will provide the propulsion and power compartment for NASA’s Orion crew capsule, officials said Wednesday. This so-called service module will be based on Europe’s supply ship used for the International Space Station.

Orion’s first trip is an unmanned mission in 2017. Any extra European parts will be incorporated in the first manned mission of Orion in 2021.

“Space has long been a frontier for international cooperation as we explore,” said Dan Dumbacher, deputy associate administrator for Exploration System Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This latest chapter builds on NASA’s excellent relationship with ESA as a partner in the International Space Station, and helps us move forward in our plans to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been before.”

NASA’s human exploration chief, Bill Gerstenmaier, said both missions will be aimed at the vicinity of the moon. The exact details are being worked out; lunar fly-bys, rather than landings, are planned.

NASA wants to ultimately use the bell-shaped Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to asteroids and Mars. International cooperation will be crucial for such endeavors, Gerstenmaier told reporters.

The United States has yet to establish a clear path forward for astronauts, 1 1/2 years after NASA’s space shuttles stopped flying. The basic requirements for Orion spacecraft are well understood regardless of the destination, allowing work to proceed, Gerstenmaier said.

“You don’t design a car to just go to the grocery store,” he told reporters.

Getting to 2017 will be challenging, officials for both space programs acknowledged. Gerstenmaier said he’s not “100 percent comfortable” putting Europe in such a crucial role. “But I’m never 100 percent comfortable” with spaceflight, he noted. “We’ll see how it goes, but we’ve done it smartly.”

The space station helped build the foundation for this new effort, he said.

Former astronaut Thomas Reiter, Europe’s director of human spaceflight, said it makes sense for the initial Orion crew to include Europeans. For now, though, the focus is on the technical aspects, he said. NASA will supply no-longer-used space shuttle engines for use on the service modules.

“NASA’s decision … is a strong sign of trust and confidence in ESA’s capabilities, for ESA it is an important contribution to human exploration,” said Thomas Reiter, ESA director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

Reiter put the total European contribution at nearly $600 million.

Orion originally was part of NASA’s Constellation program that envisioned moon bases in the post-shuttle era. President Barack Obama canceled Constellation, but Orion was repurposed and survived.

A test flight of the capsule is planned for next year; it will fly 3,600 miles away and then return.

Source

October 22, 2012

Space Exploration – What is the point of that waste of time and money?

This was the first color image of earth ever taken from the moon, taken in 1968…

First Image of Earth from the Moon

First Image of Earth from the Moon

… the instant this photo comes out, it becomes the defining picture of the whole earth catalogue:

1970: the comprehensive clean air act is passed.
March, 1970: Earth Day became a holiday.
1970: environmental protection agency was founded.
1971: Doctors WIthout Borders was founded.
1971: Clean water act.
1972: DDT is banned.
1972: endangered species act.
1973: the catalytic converter gets put in.
1973: unleaded gas starts being used.

The vietnam war is still going on, and there is still chaos in the streets from protests and mass arrests and yet people still found the time to think about the earth as a whole.

That’s space exploration doing it’s part in influencing culture, and you cannot put a price on that.

September 24, 2012

NASA considering deep-space outpost on far side of moon

Filed under: Cool, Inner Solar System, Military, Moons, Space Exploration, Space Ships — bferrari @ 5:27 pm
An artist's concept shows the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and future destinations for human exploration beyond Earth orbit: the moon, an asteroid and Mars. (NASA)

An artist’s concept shows the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and future destinations for human exploration beyond Earth orbit: the moon, an asteroid and Mars. (NASA)

Will NASA’s next mission send its astronauts beyond the moon?
The space agency is weighing a proposal to build a “gateway spacecraft” that would hang in space about 277,000 miles from the Earth and 38,000 miles past the moon — more than a quarter million miles further into space than the orbit of the International Space Station.
A report by the Orlando Sentinel details the plan to park the orbiting spacecraft on the far side of the moon, in a precisely calculated spot called Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2. The gravitational pull of the planets balances out at this point in space, allowing NASA to essentially “park” there permanently rather than orbiting.

In contrast, the ISS orbits the Earth at a height of about 230 miles.
‘A test area for human access to deep space is the best near-term option.’
– NASA report

“[Placing a spacecraft at the Earth-Moon Lagrange point beyond the moon as a test area for human access to deep space is the best near-term option to develop required flight experience and mitigate risk,” concluded the NASA report.
The new outpost — which may be built from parts leftover from the construction of the ISS — would be an ideal first mission for the heavy lift spacecraft dubbed Space Launch System that is being developed at NASA.
That rocket is being designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, a capsule that can hold crew on missions to the moon or beyond. It can also carry important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and destinations beyond, according to NASA.
The Space Launch System will be NASA’s first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago, the space agency said.
A deep-space base or “gateway spacecraft” would present unique opportunities and challenges. It would expose astronauts to the radiation of deep space, and would be challenging to resupply. But it would greatly ease communications further out into space, and would presumably be a jumping off point for human travel to Mars.
It was unclear whether this space base would be manned. NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division recently detailed work on a deep-space habitat that would allow crew to live and work safely in space for up to a year. The group built a mockup of such a space habitat in July at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
In a statement to FoxNews.com, a NASA spokesman said the agency was evaluating several potential routes to Mars, an asteroid and elsewhere in space.

“NASA is executing President Obama’s ambitious space exploration plan that includes missions around the moon, to asteroids, and ultimately putting humans on Mars. There are many options — and many routes — being discussed on our way to the Red Planet,”Trent J. Perrotto said.

“In addition to the moon and an asteroid, other options may be considered as we look for ways to buy down risk — and make it easier — to get to Mars.”
Paying for any such a project would be an immense challenge in itself. The Orlando Sentinel reportedly studied internal NASA documents on the project, which don’t include any sort of price tag. And NASA has been wrestling with budget cuts for years.
On Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a policy paper detailing his vision for NASA called “Securing U.S. Leadership in Space” – it underscores the concept of doing more with less.
“A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities,” the document reads.
In February, Space.com obtained NASA memos detailing the formation of a team to develop a cohesive plan to explore the Lagrange point. The first construction flight to build a waystation there could take place as soon as 2019, according to the Sentinel.
There are many options — and many routes — being discussed on our way to the Red Planet,” spokesman David Weaver said.

 

Source

August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong’s Photo Legacy: Rare Views of First Man on the Moon

Filed under: Cool, Inner Solar System, Military, Moons, Space Exploration, Space Ships — bferrari @ 1:18 pm

There is only one photograph of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and in it, he has his back to the camera.

The first man to set foot on a planetary body other than Earth was not camera shy. It was just that for most of the time he and Buzz Aldrin were exploring the moon in July 1969, the checklist called for Armstrong to have their only camera.

When the news broke Saturday (Aug. 25) that Armstrong, 82, had passed away, it is likely that many people’s memories of the first man on the moon were of black and white television images or color film stills. If they did recall a photo captured during the Apollo 11 moonwalk, it was almost certainly one of Aldrin, whether it was of him saluting the flag or looking down at his bootprint.

In fact, perhaps the most iconic photo taken of an astronaut on the surface of the moon is also of Aldrin. A posed shot, he is facing the camera with the reflection of his photographer, Armstrong, caught in Aldrin’s golden helmet visor.

Neil Armstrong, seen here aboard Gemini 8, was the first U.S. civilian to fly into orbit. Armstrong had retired from the U.S. Navy in 1960. This photo was relatively rarely-seen until it was used as the cover of Armstrong's authorized biography, "First Man" by James Hansen. (NASA)

Neil Armstrong, seen here aboard Gemini 8, was the first U.S. civilian to fly into orbit. Armstrong had retired from the U.S. Navy in 1960. This photo was relatively rarely-seen until it was used as the cover of Armstrong’s authorized biography, “First Man” by James Hansen. (NASA)

Of course, there were photographs taken of Neil Armstrong at other points during the moon flight, and on his previous mission, Gemini 8. Cameras were ready when he was named an astronaut seven years before walking on the moon, and were more than ever present after he returned to Earth as a history-making hero.

A few of those other photos ran alongside obituaries in the numerous newspapers that told of Armstrong’s death in their Sunday editions. But they — the photos, not necessarily the obituaries — only told part of the story. A great many lesser seen photos capture Armstrong as the research pilot, astronaut, engineer and, as his family described in a statement, “a reluctant American hero.”

To help illustrate that record, collectSPACE.com asked RetroSpaceImages.com to search their extensive archives of NASA photographs and pick out those that showed the Armstrong that the public didn’t always get to see. The three dozen photos they chose have been presented chronologically, with one exception: the gallery begins with the rare photo of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

Click through to collectSPACE to view the full gallery of Neil Armstrong’s photo legacy.

Source

Astronauts mourn Neil Armstrong’s death

Filed under: Cosmology, Inner Solar System, Life, Military, Moons, Space Exploration, Space Ships — bferrari @ 7:43 am
Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin's panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only (NASA)

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only (NASA)

The news of the iconic astronaut Neil Armstrong’s death Saturday plunged American astronauts and spaceflyers around the world into mourning, with some expressing their sadness on Twitter.

Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon and commander of NASA’s Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, died at age 82 sue to complications from recent heart surgery, his family said. Armstrong had heart bypass surgery earlier this month to clear blocked arteries.

Many astronauts with NASA and other space agencies cited Armstrong as a major inspiration in their lives in their Twitter messages. Others reflected on the legendary astronaut’s modesty, despite his global fame.

“I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning Neil’s passing — a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew,” wrote Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who walked with Armstrong on the moon on July 20, 1969, in his Twitter post. He writes as @TheRealBuzz.
‘[Armstrong was] a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew.’
– Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Several active and former NASA astronauts wrote that Armstrong inspired them to pursue dreams of flying in space.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Neil Armstrong,” wrote former astronaut Leroy Chiao (@AstroDude), four-time spaceflyer and commander the International Space Station. “He was my childhood hero, who inspired me to become an astronaut myself.”

Former shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to fly in space, agreed.
“As young girl watching #NeilArmstrong step on the moon, the stars came a little bit closer & my world & expectations quite a bit larger,” Jemison wrote as ‏@maejemison.

Christopher Ferguson, the commander of NASA’s last space shuttle mission (STS-135 in July 2011), was touched by Armstrong’s modest demeanor despite his great feats in space.
“Today we lost a legend,” Ferguson wrote Saturday as @AstroFerg.” Neil was a source of personal inspiration and a humble and unassuming American hero.”

But Armstrong was more than just an American icon. His legacy reached out across the entire world, as astronauts from Japan, Canada and Europe pointed out.
“RIP #NeilArmstrong, the 1st moonwalker. He inspired me to fly high,” wrote astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (@Astro_Soichi), who included a photo of the moon in one of his two posts. ” Salute to #NeilArmstrong, the 1st moonwalker. He inspired me deeply, long before I become spacewalker.”

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently training to command the International Space Station’s Expedition 35 crew, cited Armstrong as an inspiration to all to excel.
“Neil Armstrong is one of my heroes. He inspired and challenged us all to work at the edges of what’s possible. A life well-lived. RIP Neil,” Hadfield wrote as@Cmdr_Hadfield.

Here are more astronaut reflections via Twitter mourning the death of Neil Armstrong:

NASA astronaut Ron Garan (‏@Astro_Ron)
Honor Neil Armstrong’s example of service accomplishment + modesty Next time UC the moon think of Neil + #WinkAtTheMoon

European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang, of Sweden (@CFuglesang)
I’m sad. Neil Armstrong, 1st on Moon, incredible astronaut, fantastic person has passed away. I was very impressed the few times I met him.
NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (@AstroFlow)
Rest In Peace CDR Armstrong.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of Italy (@AstroSamantha)
I’m grateful for this recent, one-hour interview w/ #NeilArmstrong. A man w/ so much to teach! http://thebottomline.cpaaustralia.com.au/

NASA astronaut Mike Foreman (@foreman_mike)
Definitely a sad day. He was a great American hero.
NASA astronaut Dorothy Lindenburger ‏(@AstroDot)

The astronaut family lost many this year, but each member contributed and lived so fully that ALL of the world has gained.
NASA astronaut Nicole Stott (‏@Astro_Nicole)

Neil Armstrong -his 1 small step will inspire generations to come. “the dream remains -there are places to go beyond belief.”

Source

May 24, 2012

Legendary moonwalker Neil Armstrong narrates his own moon landing

Filed under: Cool, Inner Solar System, Military, Moons, Space Exploration, Space Ships — bferrari @ 2:29 pm
Neil Armstrong, as NASA astronaut (NASA)

Neil Armstrong, as NASA astronaut (NASA)

In a four part interview with Neil Armstrong, the man who stopped the world back in 1969 with his historic walk on the moon, Armstrong talked through those final knuckle-whitening minutes when he realized Eagle’s auto-pilot was trying to set them amongst a minefield of slopes and boulders on the lunar surface.

“Those slopes are steep, the rocks are very large — the size of automobiles,” he told Alex Malley, CEO of accounting firm CPA Australia, narrating over a Google Moon version of the landing.

“It’s certainly not a place where I want to land, so I took over manually from the computer, the auto-pilot. Like a helicopter, on out to the west, to try to find a smoother, more level landing spot.”
Footage shows Commander Armstrong spots a smooth spot other side of crater.
“I’m running low on fuel. I’ve got less than two minutes of fuel,” he told Malley.
The actual footage shows Eagle’s rocket engine starting to kick up moon dust. Then a 30-second fuel warning pings.
“I need to get it down here on the ground pretty soon, before we run out,” Armstrong said.
Then a light thump, followed by the immortal words: “Tranquility to base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The interview with the first man to step foot on the moon aired over the past week on Australian television on the CPA Australia-sponsored show “The Bottom Line.” Armstrong is just as famous for his reluctance to talk about his experience, having given the barest handful of television interviews since that landmark day in 1969.

So how did Australian accountants get to shoot the breeze in a 40-minute one-on-one with one of the most in-demand, yet seldom heard heroes of modern history, Neil Armstrong?

Malley knew something that a lot of people didn’t know about Neil Armstrong, he said: “His dad was an auditor.”

The interview is as much a tribute to Malley’s desire to make it happen as it is to the man who stopped the world back in 1969.

“When I raised the issue of approaching Neil and speaking with him, it became immediately clear how many people thought it couldn’t be done,” Malley told news.com.au. “I very much feel my form of leadership is to show people you can do things. CPA Australia talking to Neil Armstrong, I think should be a clear message that anyone to do it.”

I know that one day somebody’s going to fly back up there and pick up that camera I left there.

— Neil Armstrong

“The most compelling thing I felt about him was his humility — his commitment to his team, his deference to everyone except himself, his respect for the Russians — I found that quite extraordinary.”

Even at the age of 82, he’s not comfortable in the public spotlight. Last year, his nerves were painfully obvious as he presented an Apollo enthusiast’s recreation of the moon landing using Google Moon images to a U.S. House Committee on Space, Science and Technology.

He’s far more relaxed talking Malley through it live. In fact, Commander Armstrong’s ease and openness has been a noteworthy feature of the hour-long interview.

A CPA Australia spokesman said the response to the series has been overwhelming and “growing by the day.”

“We’ve received an extraordinary amount of feedback … even [from] a number of Neil’s close friends and colleagues who were really pleased to see how relaxed he was in sharing his story publically,” he said.

In the past four weeks, Armstrong has spoke at length about his days in the Air Force, U.S. Government policy, leadership, success and the deaths of former comrades.

He wound up his final interview by tackling the most controversial issue (yes, Malley went there): Was the moon landing faked?

Armstrong answers with a chuckle.

“People love conspiracy theories,” he said.

“They’re very attractive, but they were never a concern to me — because I know that one day somebody’s going to fly back up there and pick up that camera I left there.”

Source

May 18, 2012

The United States Once Planned On Nuking the Moon

Did you know that the United States once planned on shooting a nuclear bomb at the moon.

If you presumed that the reasoning behind such an act was “because we can”, you are absolutely correct. That is exactly why the U.S. wanted to do it, in order to one-up the Soviet Union, who were perceived as leading the space race at the time.

The project was labeled “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” or “Project A119″ and was developed by the U.S. Air Force in the late 1950s. It was felt that this would be a relatively easy thing to do and would also boost public perception of how the U.S. was doing in comparison to the Soviet Union in terms of the space race.

According to one of the leaders of the project, physicist Leonard Reiffel, hitting the moon with an intercontinental ballistic missile would have been relatively easy to accomplish, including hitting the target with an accuracy of about two miles. This accuracy would have been particularly important as the Air Force wanted the resulting explosion to be clearly visible from Earth. As such, it was proposed that the explosion happen on the border of the visible part of the moon, so that the resulting cloud would be clearly visible, being illuminated by the sun.

The project was eventually scrapped as it was felt that the public would not respond favorably to the U.S. dropping a nuclear bomb on the moon.

One can only imagine the conversation that would have had to take place to convince the Soviet Union of the U.S.’s peaceful intent with the launch of that missile:

United States: “Hey Soviet Union, don’t worry about that intercontinental missile we just fired that has a nuclear warhead attached. I swear, it’s aimed at the moon.”
Soviet Union: “Why would you shoot a nuclear missile at the moon?”
United States: “…”
Soviet Union: “???”
United States: “You know… BOOM… but in space.”
Bonus Factoids:

A young Carl Sagan was one of the scientists hired by Reiffel for this project. Specifically, Sagan was hired to study how exactly the mushroom cloud would expand on the moon, so that they could make sure it would be clearly visible from Earth, which was the whole point of the project.
Sagan felt that the project also had scientific merit in that the cloud itself could be closely examined for possible organic material.
Sagan breached national security just one year after he was hired (1959) when he revealed aspects of the project when applying for the Berkeley Miller Institute graduate fellowship. Details of this were not brought to light until a biographer, Keay Davidson, uncovered this information when doing research for a biography on Carl Sagan after Sagan’s death in 1996.
The Miller Research Fellowship is a program provided by Berkeley to help some of the world’s most promising young scientists launch their careers. Winners are given a three year appointment where they are mentored by Berkeley’s faculty and are allowed to use the university’s facilities for their research, among other benefits.
Around 400 people have been made Miller Fellows since 1960 and there have been over 1000 scientists who have been supported through the program. Among this very prestigious group are six Fields Medalists and seven Nobel Prize winners.
Carl Sagan was one of the first “Miller Fellows” inducted. His three year term began in 1960 when the Fellowship was created.

Sources:

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