Advertisements

Secret Service Has No Audio or Transcripts of Any Tapes Made in Trump White House 

Photo: jonathan ernst/Reuters

Photo: jonathan ernst/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Louise Radnofsky reports: The U.S. Secret Service has no audio copies or transcripts of any tapes recorded within President Donald Trump’s White House, the agency said on Monday.

The agency’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by The Wall Street Journal doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity.

The Secret Service handled recording systems within the White House for past presidents, including Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

The question of a White House recording system has lingered for more than a month since Mr. Trump first raised the possibility in a provocative tweet about former FBI Director James Comey.

In recent days, the two men have offered differing accounts of whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey in private conversations within the White House complex to ease off the FBI’s probe of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

On Friday, Mr. Trump kept the tapes mystery alive, telling reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.” He added, “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.” Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Trump Signs NASA Bill, Ponders Sending Congress to Space

The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency.

Darlene Superville reports: President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA’s mission. Could sending Congress into space be next?

Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a “pretty tough job.” He said he wasn’t sure he’d want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn’t want to be a space traveler, either.

“For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology.”

— President Donald Trump

But Cruz, R-Texas, offered up a tantalizing suggestion. “You could send Congress to space,” he said to laughter, including from the president.

Trump, who faces a crucial House vote later this week on legislation long promised by Republicans to overhaul the Obama-era Affordable Care Act health law, readily agreed. The health care bill is facing resistance from some conservative members of the party.

“What a great idea that could be,” Trump said, before turning back to the space exploration measure sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

The new law authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the budget year that began Oct. 1. Cruz said the authorization bill is the first for the space agency in seven years, and he called it a “terrific” achievement. Read the rest of this entry »


10 Fascinating Facts on President Ronald Reagan’s Birthday

reagans_with_michael_jackson

It’s the 106th birthday of Ronald Reagan, and since he was one of the most widely recognized world leaders, it’s not hard to find some interesting facts about the 40th president.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan had a long career as an actor and union leader before he became the governor of California in the 1960s and won presidential elections in 1980 and 1984.

Here are 10 facts about President Reagan you may not know.

1. Reagan really did enjoy jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraryhis favorite flavor was licorice. Reagan started eating jelly beans in 1967 as he was trying to quit a pipe-smoking habit. He switched to Jelly Bellies a decade later.

2. One food that Reagan didn’t like was brussels sprouts. This is according to the Reagan Library website. In her autobiography, Nancy Reagan said her husband wasn’t a fussy eater since he traveled on the public speaking circuit for decades, but he also didn’t like tomatoes.

3. Reagan’s nickname of “Dutch” was given to him at an early age by his family. Reagan’s ancestry is Irish on his father’s side and Scots-English on his mother’s side. The name came from his childhood haircut, among other things.

4. The future President’s last movie role was in the 1964 release, The Killers. Based on an Ernest Hemingway story, it was Reagan’s only role as a villain in a film, and it was the first made-for-TV movie. However, The Killers was considered too violent for TV, and released to movie theaters instead.

thatcher-reagan

5. The future President lost partial hearing in one ear when he was hurt on a movie set in the late 1930s, after a gun was fired next to his ear. Decades later, President Reagan wrote to Michael Jackson offering his support after Jackson was burned filming a TV commercial.

6. Ronald Reagan started out in life as a Democrat and supported the New Deal efforts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan officially became a Republican  in 1962, but he had grown more conservative during the 1950s as he toured as a General Electric spokesman.

7. Reagan was not the original choice to star in “Casablanca,” instead of Humphrey Bogart. The urban legend over the issue is documented on snopes.com, and it started with a paragraph in a Warner Brothers’ press release issued before the movie was made. Bogart was always expected to play the lead role. Read the rest of this entry »


George Will: ‘Alternative Facts’ & Safe Spaces Come from Similar Intellectual Problems

Demotivated students sitting in a lecture hall with one girl napping in college

Myriad intellectual viruses are thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.

George Will writes: In 2013, a college student assigned to research a deadly substance sought help via Twitter: “I can’t find the chemical and physical properties of sarin gas someone please help me.” An expert at a security consulting firm tried to be helpful, telling her that sarin is not gas. She replied, “yes the [expletive] it is a gas you ignorant [expletive]. sarin is a liquid & can evaporate … shut the [expletive] up.”

“College, in an earlier time, was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge.”

— Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School

Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School, writing in The Chronicle Review, says such a “storm of outraged ego” is an increasingly common phenomenon among students who, having been taught to regard themselves as peers of their teachers, “take correction as an insult.” Nichols relates this to myriad intellectual viruses thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.

“Unearned praise and hollow successes build a fragile arrogance in students that can lead them to lash out at the first teacher or employer who dispels that illusion, a habit that carries over into a resistance to believe anything inconvenient or challenging in adulthood.”

— Tom Nichols

Soon the results include the presidential megaphone being used to amplify facially preposterous assertions, e.g., that upward of 5 million illegal votes were cast in 2016. A presidential minion thinks this assertion is justified because it is the president’s “long-standing belief.”

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

“College, in an earlier time,” Nichols writes, “was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge,” replacing youthful simplicities with adult complexities. Today, college involves the “pampering of students as customers,” particularly by grade inflation in a context of declining academic rigor: A recent study showed “A” to be the most commonly awarded grade, 30 percent more frequent than in 1960.

am-u-students

“Rather than disabuse students of their intellectual solipsism,” Nichols says, “the modern university reinforces it.”

— Tom Nichols

And a 2011 University of Chicago study found that 45 percent of students said that in the previous semester none of their courses required more than 20 pages of writing and 32 percent had no class that required more than 40 pages of reading in a week. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Apollo 8’s Christmas Eve Message

On December 24th, 1968, Apollo 8 made its final pass around the moon and the crew, in turn, sent home this message:

Bill Anders
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'”

apollo-8-crew1

Jim Lovell
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

earth_lg Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Replay: Incredible Lunar Views From The Japanese Selene Orbiter – Earthrise 

Take a journey across the surface of the moon. See the earth rise and set from the lunar surface.

This video was recorded by the SELENE Lunar Orbiter – images are copyright JAXA / NHK
SELENE , better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya, was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe]

Produced by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA), the spacecraft was launched on September 14, 2007. After successfully orbiting the Moon for a year and eight months, the main orbiter was instructed to impact on the lunar surface near the crater Gill on June 10, 2009.[2] Read the rest of this entry »


NASA’s ‘Forgotten Astronaut’

Who is Michael Collins?

Neil Armstrong may have been the first person to walk on the moon, but he wasn’t the only astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission; someone had to stay onboard the ship.

Molly Fosco writes: Michael Collins is one of three astronauts that were aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. You’re probably a little more familiar with the other two astronauts from the mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. That’s because Collins is the only one that didn’t get to actually walk on the moon, which is why he’s sometimes referred to as the “forgotten astronaut.”

Collins was the command module pilot on Apollo 11 so he stayed behind to man the spacecraft while Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous moonwalk. Ultimately, this means that Collins isn’t a household name, but he’s still a very important part of space history. Read the rest of this entry »


Moon Landing Documentary Airs Today

Apollo 11 Moon Documentary Launches on Decades Network Today

 A TV documentary set to premier today (July 20) will tell the incredible story of the first moon landing, which took place 47 years ago today.

The documentary, called “Go: The Great Race,” will air four times today on the Decades TV Network, as a special episode of the show “Through the Decades.” A trailer for the documentary leads off with footage from President John F. Kennedy delivering his famous 1961 speech that called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.

“He had no reason to believe that we could even come close to doing something like that,” says one of the documentary’s interviewees (supposedly someone who worked on the Apollo, referring to Kennedy’s challenge. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND Apollo 11: Walter Cronkite Anchors First Moonwalk, CBS, July 1969

CBS INFO: On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off on a mission to put man on the moon. That dream came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Forty-five years after Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made history, CBS News is celebrating their achievement.

Each day through July 20, CBSNews.com will post videos showcasing archival footage of the coverage of the monumental mission and interviews with the astronauts and others reflecting on their great accomplishment.

Above, watch CBS News legend Walter Cronkite anchor coverage of Apollo 11’s dramatic blastoff from Cape Kennedy in Florida and the dramatic days that followed, culminating in the moon landing.

Buzz Aldrin launches social media campaign to mark moon landing anniversary
Cronkite marveled at how throngs of people stopped in their tracks to watch the liftoff.

“It seemed that the whole world stopped as man set out on the adventure to escape from his own planet and to set foot on a distant one,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Space History: The Brilliant, Funny Computer Code Behind the Apollo 11 Mission

From their key positions in this control center at Goddard, the Manned Space Flight Network operations director and staff controlled Apollo mission communications activities throughout a far-flung worldwide complex of stations. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

Paul Smith writes: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—the mission that put human beings on the moon for the first time—was launched in 1969, the year after I was born. My early Christmas presents were giant kids’ books full of pictures of that giant Saturn V rocket launching into space, the command and lunar modules, and of guys in bulky space suits walking on the moon. The first intelligible answer I gave to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “Astronaut.”

gemini-mission-control

I did not end up becoming an astronaut.

Computers also captured my attention at an early age, and now I work as a developer for Slate. But my fascination with space endures—so needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the source code for Apollo 11’s computer guidance systems was uploaded on July 8 to Github, a popular site used by programmers to share code and collaboratively build software. Anyone can now read the actual lines of programming code used to land men on the moon.

[Read the full story here, at slate.com]

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

“I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean ‘launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.’ And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?”

The code is pretty inscrutable to casual inspection: It’s not written in a programming language recognizable to modern coders. But Hamilton and her team wrote comments in their code (just like I do when I write code for Slate’s website) to help remind them what’s going on in a given spot in the program. Those parts are surprisingly readable. Here’s a block of code from a file called BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s (really, that’s what it’s called):

Apollo1

So, clearly, “don’t forget to clean out leftover DVTOTAL data when GROUP 4 RESTARTS and then BURN, BABY!” I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean “launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.” And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?

Altogether, with comments and some added copyright headers, the AGC code adds up to about 2 megabytes—a teeny tiny fraction of the amount of code packed into an Apple Watch. Read the rest of this entry »


Monetizing Junk from Outer Space: Art Collectors Bid on Rare Meteorites

Seymchan-Meteorite-Sphere

Bruce Dormancy writes: Holiday shopping for items from the Moon, Mars and the wilds of outer space is still possible for those open to meteoritic stocking stuffers. Such truly ancient pieces of space rock — think older than Earth itself — are increasingly sought after by hundreds of high-end collectors looking for natural pieces of sculpture.

Although a plethora of commercial startups are pining for metal riches from asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt and beyond, meteorite collectors here on terra firma now routinely buy and sell these off-world treasures at auction.

Christie’s South Kensington Auction House in London is planning their first catalog sale of meteorites next April. Prices typically range from around $500 to over $100,000, depending on the size, type of meteorites, condition and provenance, James Hyslop, the Head of Science & Books at Christie’s South Kensington, told me.

However, some meteorites can sell for much higher.

This meteorite was part of the Chelyabinsk meteorite shower of February 15, 2013. Unlike 95% of all other meteorites, this meteorite did not tumble or invert during its descent to Earth. To be sold at Christie's in April 2016. (It measures 4.5 inches across and weighs 2 pounds). Credit: © Mark Mauthner / Christie's

This meteorite was part of the Chelyabinsk meteorite shower of February 15, 2013. Unlike 95% of all other meteorites, this meteorite did not tumble or invert during its descent to Earth. To be sold at Christie’s in April 2016. (It measures 4.5 inches across and weighs 2 pounds). Credit: © Mark Mauthner / Christie’s

The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing paid a cool $1 million for two small Mars meteorites. Indeed, Hyslop says lunar and Martian meteorites are the most sought after, since they are also the most rare; representing less than one percent of the estimated 62,000 catalogued meteorites. The rest all originate from asteroidal or cometary bodies in deep space.

[Read the full story here, at Forbes]

Darryl Pitt, Curator of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites in New York — one of the world’s largest private collections, told me that any given meteorite’s sales value is also influenced by other factors. They include whether the piece is whole or fractured; its locality at the time of discovery; its esthetics; color; crystalline structure and translucency.

Christies_meteorite_auction63

And often, the more bizarre their shapes, the better collectors like it. Hyslop notes that meteorites with naturally-occurring holes are much rarer and more highly-prized.

Alan Rubin, a UCLA research geochemist, told me that such bizarre shapes result from both fragmentation while traveling through Earth’s atmosphere and often years of terrestrial weathering after hitting the ground.

But the hot quick trip through our atmosphere is nothing to compared to their circuitous orbital routes to Earth itself.

Christie's meteorite auction64

For meteorites that originated on the Moon or Mars, their journeys here can take up to millions of years. Most lunar meteorites either reach the Earth in a few days or achieve quasi-geocentric orbits that bring them to Earth in less than a million years,” said Rubin.

Mars meteorites typically take much longer.

Rubin says we know this as a result of cosmic ray dating on the meteorites themselves.

He says that when objects in interplanetary space are less than a few meters in size, they are penetrated by cosmic rays which transmute some elements into measurable radioactive isotopes. Read the rest of this entry »


Remembering the Apollo 1 Disaster: How 3 Astronauts were Killed 49 Years Ago Today 

nasa-apollo-1

The crew of Apollo 1 were the first fatalities in America’s space programme, but they will forever be remembered as pioneers of manned space exploration.

Gemma Lavender writes: Following the success of the Mercury and Gemini missions in the 1960’s, NASA set about planning a series of manned missions to the Moon that would become known as the Apollo missions, under direction of John F. Kennedy to land a man on the moon by 1970. Apollo 1 was to be the first manned mission and, although it would not travel to the moon itself, it was intended to test important technologies in Earth orbit with Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee on board. Tragically, however, the spacecraft was destroyed in a cabin fire during a launch pad test 47 years ago on 27 January 1967.

Each of the three astronauts had been influential during NASA’s space exploration program in the run-up to Apollo 1. Gus Grissom was the second American in space aboard Liberty Bell 7, the second Project Mercury flight, in 1961. He later became the first American to fly in space twice, piloting the Gemini 3 spacecraft in orbit in 1965.

The Apollo 1 crew are pictured here during water egress training. Image Credit: NASA

The Apollo 1 crew are pictured here during water egress training. Image Credit: NASA

Edward White was the first American to walk in space during the Gemini 4 spaceflight, also in 1965, when he spent 36 minutes outside the spacecraft. Roger Chaffee was the only one of the three who had not flown in space before. He was chosen in NASA’s third pool of astronauts in 1963 and served as capsule communicator on the ground alongside Grissom for White’s Gemini 4 mission. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] NASA Has Released More than 8,000 Images of the Apollo Mission


J. Christian Adams: Apollo 8, Christmas 1968

climate-us-environment-space

“Something was going right. Something made us proud.’

J. Christian Adams writes: During Christmastime in 1968, one of the most significant events in human history occurred. The flight of Apollo 8 marked the first time humans departed Earth orbit and traveled to the dark side of the moon. The Christmas Eve lunar orbit of Apollo 8 also marked one of most profoundly unifying moments for our nation. The journey to space was on everyone’s mind Christmas morning. And the fulfillment of man’s most ancient dream was illuminated by man’s most ancient text, while the entire world watched in wonder.

“Never before had man so vividly understood how good and perfectly designed for human life Earth was. Never before had creation been described by men so competent to describe it.”

With the eventual landing of Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon, the achievement of Apollo 8 was nudged into the background. School textbooks teach about Apollo 11, but not Apollo 8. Yet the lunar landing of Apollo 11 merely capped off the journey of Apollo 8. As the world watched on live television, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders departed Earth orbit for space and orbited the moon for the first time.

Image-of-apollo-8-crew

Perhaps only the circumnavigation of Magellan in 1522 can compare to Apollo 8, and Magellan himself died halfway around the globe. It had a fraction of the significance and risk of Apollo 8. Centuries of experience animated any 16th century sea voyage. When Frank Borman and his crew ignited a single engine burn to leave Earth orbit, they were in a fragile capsule only 12 feet in diameter crossing the cold dangerous expanse of space. Simply, Apollo 8 may be the most significant event in the history of human exploration.

[Also see – Apollo 8 crew wish the world a Merry Christmas from the moon’s orbit in 1968 – New York Daily News]

Not only were Borman and his crew the first to depart Earth orbit, they still hold the record for the highest altitude flight.  Because of the type of lunar orbit Apollo 8 deployed, they ventured further from Earth than any subsequent manned craft. They were also the first humans to gaze on the totality of the entire Earth. Just imagine their awe.

Apollo-8

The awe of the beautiful and distant Earth was captured in Apollo 8’s famous photo of Earthrise over the lunar horizon. In contrast, the surface of the moon below appeared terrifying, bleak, and lifeless to the astronauts – an Earth before creation.

[Read the full story here, at PJ Media]

The largest television audience in American history watched the live lunar images from Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968. This was one of those shared experiences so common in our nation’s past, but so rare in our modern world of fractured information and culture. Few unifying events as joyous as Apollo 8 would follow and we are worse off from the loss.

0000015666

Something else extraordinary happened that Christmas Eve. As our nation gathered around Christmas trees and bulky televisions beaming close-up video of the moon, the three astronauts took turns speaking to the world.

William Anders started.

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you:  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell continued, reading the first book of Genesis:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Then Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

Borman concluded,

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.”

Never before had man so vividly understood how good and perfectly designed for human life Earth was. Never before had creation been described by men so competent to describe it. Read the rest of this entry »


Destination Moon: Preparing to Launch the Apollo Manned Spacecraft at Cape Kennedy

tumblr_nyija5aGGI1rdy7odo1_540

x-ray delta one


The Suit Makes The Man

tumblr_nygonalmLv1rdy7odo1_1280

1969 Neil Armstrongs’ moon suit

x-ray delta one  –  


Unseen Peanuts: Drawing of Snoopy Celebrating NASA’s Apollo 10 Space Program

 


[VIDEO] Astronauts Falling on the Moon

Clips of astronauts falling on the moon. Video created by Joel Ivy. To let all those who are asking know, the music was one of the tracks on youtube’s audio list for videos. It’s by musicshake and the title of it in the list was “Game – Rise of the Loner Spacer/Fall of E.I.M.” I hope you enjoy. The Apollo program was a great program. Apollo 10 and 17 astronaut said he “felt like he was standing on God’s front porch”, and that “There’s too much purpose, too much logic, it was too beautiful to happen by accident. There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me”.

More about Apollo moon flights >>


[VIDEO] Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch Cam E-8 

This clip is raw from Camera E-8 on the launch umbilical tower/mobile launch program of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969.


[VIDEO] The Great Unlearning: How Our Society Became so Stupid

Bill Whittle overheard a young-man spouting off that the moon landing was faked, which made him wonder… how did Americans become so stupid?

 


[PHOTO] Lyndon Johnson and Spiro Agnew Watch the Apollo 11 Liftoff

LBJ-Agnew-Apollo-11


[PHOTO] NASA: Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center Celebrates the Safe Return of Apollo 11, July 24, 1969

Apollo


Buzz Aldrin: ‘I have 3 words to describe why this photo Neil took of me is so iconic: Location, location, location’

Armstrong-moon

 via Twitter


NASA History: The Hard-won Triumph of the Apollo 13 Mission: 45 Years Later

apollo-13-patch

When their spaceship was severely damaged 200,000 miles from Earth – 45 years ago this week, it was like a bad dream from which the Apollo 13 crew could not wake.

Moments after they finished a TV broadcast late on April 13, 1970, a spark ignited one of the oxygen tanks on the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The resulting explosion plunged an entire nation into an anxious three-and-a-half day drama.

Astronauts Fred Haise (left), Jack Swigert and James Lovell pose with the Apollo 13 patch and spacecraft models the day before launch. Image Credit: NASA.

Astronauts Fred Haise (left), Jack Swigert and James Lovell pose with the Apollo 13 patch and spacecraft models the day before launch. Image Credit: NASA.

The blast obliterated one of three fuel cells and an oxygen tank. Oxygen jetted into space from the command module’s remaining tank.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” astronaut Jack Swigert told mission control in Houston at what was then NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center).

“We’ve had a main B bus undervolt,” Mission Commander James Lovell said. One of the command module’s two main electrical circuits had experienced a drop in power.

The Manned Space Flight Network at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, made Swigert and Lovell’s reports possible. The network’s tracking stations linked the spacecraft to Earth, where its signals were transmitted through Goddard. Nearly three million circuit miles of communication channels in the NASA Communication Network conveyed the messages received at Goddard to the Mission Control Center in Houston.

From their key positions in this control center at Goddard, the Manned Space Flight Network operations director and staff controlled Apollo mission communications activities throughout a far-flung worldwide complex of stations. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

From their key positions in this control center at Goddard, the Manned Space Flight Network operations director and staff controlled Apollo mission communications activities throughout a far-flung worldwide complex of stations. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Less than two hours after Swigert’s message was transmitted to Houston, mission control pronounced the command module mortally wounded. With only 15 minutes of power left, astronauts Swigert, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise escaped to the “life boat” of the lunar module.

President Richard Nixon learned of the crisis shortly after the explosion, and he met with Goddard Center Director John F. Clark the following day for an update. William C. Schneider, director of NASA’s Skylab program, briefed the president on the status of the rescue mission in Goddard’s Manned Space Flight Network control room, through which communications to and from Apollo 13 passed.

The nation watched for the latest updates from their television sets, transfixed, as the rescue mission unfolded.

Then-Goddard Center Director John Clark greets President Richard Nixon, who visited the center for an Apollo 13 briefing on April 14, 1970. At right is Henry Thompson, deputy director of manned flight support at Goddard. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Then-Goddard Center Director John Clark greets President Richard Nixon, who visited the center for an Apollo 13 briefing on April 14, 1970. At right is Henry Thompson, deputy director of manned flight support at Goddard. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The crew spent three-and-a-half grueling days in the lunar module. They rationed food and water, which mission designers had only intended to last two men a day and a half, not three men three days. Carbon dioxide reached dangerous levels in the lunar module before the team managed to convert square filters from the command module to fit in the round openings on the lunar module. When the crew shut the instruments off to conserve power, the inside temperature reached an icy 38 F.

But reorienting the lunar module to a return-to-Earth trajectory from a lunar landing course proved to be one of the most difficult and important obstacles to hurdle. Read the rest of this entry »


Jeffrey Kluger: The Enduring Importance of the Last Man on the Moon

cernan-NASA

A new documentary about astronaut Gene Cernan is far more than the story of one person’s life

Jeffrey Kluger  writes: Real astronauts never say goodbye. At least, not the way you’d think they would before they take off on a mission that could very well kill them. They’re good at the quick wave, the hat tip, the catch-you-on-the-flip-side wink. But the real goodbye—the if I don’t come home here are all the things I always wanted to say to you sort of thing? Not a chance.

“You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon. But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do.”

But Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, tried to split the difference—as a scene in the new documentary The Last Man on the Moon, sweetly captures. Before Cernan headed off for his first trip to the moon, the Apollo 10 orbital mission, which was the final dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon-venuslanding a few months later, he mailed his young daughter Tracy a letter. It was written on the fragile onion skin that was air mail stationery, back in the era when the very idea of air mail carried a whiff of exotic distance.

“Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.”

Cernan was a young man when he wrote the letter in 1969, and is a much older man, at 81, when he returns to it in the film. “You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon,” he reads aloud, “But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do. Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.” If the Navy pilot who once landed jets on carrier decks and twice went to the moon mists up as he reads, if his voice quavers a bit, well what of it?

[Read the full text here, at TIME]

As the title of the movie makes clear, Cernan was the last of the dozen men who set foot on the moon, and the 24 overall who journeyed there. No human being has traveled further into space than low-Earth orbit since Cernan climbed up the ladder of his lunar module in December of 1972, closed the hatch and headed for home. That makes it a very good time for a movie that can serve as equal parts biography, reminiscence and, yes, cultural reprimand for a nation that did a great thing once and has spent a whole lot of time since trying to summon the resolve, the discipline and the political maturity to do something similar again.

“That story, as Cernan and Craig came to agree, would be about the lunar program as a whole and the up-from-the-farm narrative of so many of the men who flew in it, as well as the random currents of fortune that saw some those men make it from terrestrial soil to lunar soil, while others perished in the violent machines that were necessary for them to make those journeys.”

The Last Man on the Moon, which premiered at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March and was later shown at the Toronto Film Festival, had a long provenance, beginning eight years ago when director Mark Craig, who had read Cernan’s book, requested an interview. Cernan agreed and six months later Craig got back in touch and said he wanted to make a movie based on his memoir.

“My first answer was, ‘Who would be interested in a movie about me?’” Cernan tells TIME. The answer he got impressed him: “This movie is not going to be about you.” It was, instead, going to be about the larger story. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Jan 27, 1975

Apollo-Soyuz 

January 27, 1975 — The Apollo command/service module for the Test Project mission goes through prelaunch checkout procedures in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building at the Kennedy Space Center.

(NASA)


‘Tumbling End Over End’: Gemini VIII, 1966

Gemini-V11-closeup-splashdowngemini-v11

Dave Scott (left) and Neil Armstrong breathe the fresh air of Earth as the hatches of Gemini VIII are opened after splashdown. Photo Credit: NASA

[Also see – ‘A Finite Number of Heartbeats’: The Trauma of Gemini VIII (Part 1)]

Ben Evans writes: Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott accomplished a key goal in America’s bid to land a man on the Moon by successfully rendezvousing and docking with an unmanned Agena target vehicle in Earth orbit. As noted in part 1 AmericaSpace article, it was the first time that a manned vehicle had achieved physical contact with another target in space. However, the situation aboard Gemini VIII was far from perfect. A distinct lack of available gemini-8-launch-377x800tracking stations across the flight path had already resulted in decidedly “spotty” communications with the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in Houston, Texas.

“We have serious problems here. We’re tumbling, end over end. We’re disengaged from the Agena.”

— Dave Scott

In fact, only two ship-based stations were supporting the flight, the Rose Knot Victor and the Coastal Sentry Quebec, together with a land site in Hawaii. Shortly before one loss of contact, at around 6:35 p.m. EST on 16 March 1966, Capcom Jim Lovell radioed the Gemini VIII crew. If problems arose, he told them, they should immediately deactivate the Agena with Command 400 and assume manual control with the Gemini. It was a standard call. Lovell could hardly have imagined that a potential disaster would soon engulf the mission.

Half an hour after docking with the Agena, Dave Scott instructed the target to roll them 90 degrees, and Neil Armstrong, in the commander’s seat, told Lovell that it had “gone quite well.” The call came a few seconds before Gemini VIII passed out of radio contact with the ground. Alone, the astronauts electronically activated the Agena’s tape recorder. Shortly thereafter, their attitude indicator showed that they were in an unexpected, and almost imperceptible, roll of about 30 degrees.

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon later in their careers. Photo Credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon later in their careers. Photo Credit: NASA

“Neil,” called Scott, “we’re in a bank.” Were the Agena’s attitude controls misbehaving? Or was it a problem with the target vehicle’s software? Certainly, Gemini VIII’s own thrusters were now switched off and the assumption could safely be made that the Agena was at fault. What they did not know was that one of their thrusters—the No. 8 thruster—had short-circuited and stuck into its “on” position. Unaware, Scott cut off the Agena’s thrusters, whilst Armstrong reactivated the Gemini’s thrusters in an attempt to stop the roll and bring the combination under control.

gemini-8-agena-500x472

Credit: NASA

For a few minutes, his effort succeeded.

Gradually, the craft stabilized. Then, as Armstrong started to reorient them into their correct position, the unwanted motions resumed … albeit much faster than before and along all three axes. Perplexed, the men jiggled the Agena’s control switches, then those of the Gemini, on and off, in a fruitless attempt to isolate the problem. Glancing at his instrument panel, Scott noticed that their craft’s attitude propellant had dropped to just 30 percent. At this stage, it dawned on the astronauts that the fault was with their craft. “We had to disengage from the Agena,” Scott later wrote in his memoir, Two Sides of the Moon, “and quickly.”

“Television stations began interrupting their programmes—Batman and, ironically, Lost in Space—to provide live coverage. Original plans had called for Gemini VIII to splash down in the Atlantic and be recovered by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Boxer, but the emergency guided them instead to a point in the western Pacific, 500 miles east of Okinawa.

This posed its own problems, since both craft were rapidly rotating and could hit each other. Quickly, Scott set the Agena’s recording devices to allow flight controllers to remotely command it; a crucial step, since, after undocking, the target would otherwise be dead. “No one would ever know what the problem had been or how to fix it,” he wrote. His prompt action saved the Agena and preserved it not only for subsequent investigations, but also for a remarkable “double rendezvous” on the Gemini X mission in July. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Rocket to the Moon’: LIFE Magazine, 1949

life-moon

Life, January 17, 1949


Saturn V Apollo Flight Configuration

saturn-v-config


This Day in History: Ron Evans Space Walk, Dec 17, 1972, One Hour, 7 Minutes, 18 Seconds

spacewalk

December 17, 1972 — Apollo 17 astronaut Ron Evans takes a spacewalk outside the command module during the trans-Earth coast  to home. He is retrieving film cassettes, a mapping camera, and panoramic camera. The total time for his EVA was one hour, seven minutes, 18 seconds.


[PHOTO] Margaret Hamilton: Code Pioneer

margaret-Hamilton

sixpenceee:

Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist and mathematician. She was the lead software engineer for Project Apollo.  Her work prevented an abort of the Apollo 11 moon landing. She’s also credited for coining the term “software engineer.”

Those stacks are the code she wrote for Apollo 11. Incredible.

nowonlyghosts – mudwerksmudwerks – drtuesdaygjohnson


The Saturn V at the US Space & Rocket Center

SaturnV

The Saturn V at the US Space & Rocket Center


[PHOTO] Apollo 8 Astronauts Jim Lovell, William Anders, & Frank Borman

Apollo8Apollo8-1

November 13, 1968 — Apollo 8 astronauts Jim Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman during training with the Apollo Mission Simulator at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

popmech


[PHOTOS] July 26, 1971: Apollo 15 Launch

tumblr_n99pd1Uo2m1ql9k3fo1_1280 tumblr_n99pd1Uo2m1ql9k3fo9_1280 tumblr_n99pd1Uo2m1ql9k3fo7_1280 Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ISS Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Message

“When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago, this space station that we live on was science fiction”

International Space Station astronauts Steve Swanson and Reid Wiseman salute the Apollo 11 mission on the 45th anniversary of its launch.

“But today it is reality thanks to the legacy of the Apollo astronauts…”

“When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago,” says Swanson, “this space station that we live on was science fiction. But today it is reality thanks to the legacy of the Apollo astronauts and all the nations that have followed the path to space since then.”

 


Space: The Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon Took Place 45 Years Ago This Week


[VIDEO] REWIND: Apollo Lunar Orbiter

spacexp.tumblr.com


[PHOTO] S-II stage of the Saturn V Rocket as it was Hoisted onto the A-2 Test Stand – 1967

SaturnV

S-II stage of the Saturn V rocket as it was hoisted onto the A-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility – 1967

Exploring Space


Air and Space Artifacts to Get New Display in D.C.

National Air and Space Museum (Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

National Air and Space Museum (Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Some of the most iconic artifacts of aviation and space history will be getting an updated display for the 21st century, with the Apollo moon landing as the centerpiece.

“We’re trying to figure out what the museum needs to do to stay in touch. We want to inspire people of all ages to want to know more and to do more.”

— Museum Director J.R. “Jack” Dailey

For the first time since its 1976 opening, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum plans to overhaul its central exhibition showing the milestones of flight. The extensive renovation announced Thursday will be carried out over the next two years with portions of the exhibit closing temporarily over time, said Museum Director J.R. “Jack” Dailey.

Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” aircraft from the first trans-Atlantic flight, John Glenn’s Mercury capsule from his first Earth orbit and an Apollo Lunar Module recalling America’s first moon landing will be among the key pieces to be featured. Such artifacts have made the Air and Space Museum the nation’s most-visited museum, drawing 7 million to 8 million visitors each year.

Read the rest of this entry »