Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Well here it is, 40 years ago today Neil and Buzz had achieved the unthinkable only ten years earlier.

There has been much debate of course about the date of the anniversary, if you live in the US the date was July 20th, but here in the UK it is today. The reason being that the "first step" took place at 9:18pm EDT which related to 2.18am BST here in the UK.

The news thus hit the headlines on July 21st here, the day before my 7th birthday!

Anyway, it was nice to see Neil on TV last night attending some kind of event at NASA making a very rare appearance and speech.

Of course he was advised by Charles Lindberg to not give interviews or autographs, Charles being the first solo pilot to cross the atlantic (in 1927) had been his own "first man" of that generation and had paid the price of his fame when his infant son was kidnapped and murdered in 1932 amid a media frenzy across the globe.

Neil it seems heeded the advice of one of his childhood heroes.

It seems that after touching down at Tranquility Base Neil and Buzz had to first ensure that they could execute an emergency lift off while a "stay" "no stay" decision was being made back at Houston.

They were then scheduled for a rest prior to taking that first step but pursuaded Houston to let them cut that rest short.

The rest they say is history, one has to admire these men for their sheer bravery for stepping literally into the unknown, they could well have been swallowed up by quick sand or much worse.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Still not got the scope out yet, but there has been plenty to see on TV about the upcoming 40th anniversary of Neil's first step on the moon, next Tuesday 21st July.

I remember it well in terms of all the fuss and the TV coverage during the day in the first week of the school summer holidays, the landing was the day before my 7th birthday so I always remember the date.

We had black and white TV like most people in the UK at the time and I distinctly remember thinking what the fuss was all about when the first images of Neil climbing down the ladder were so fuzzy!

I remember the lift off on July 16th I think, not sure whether we watched the launch live or not, but I do remember 5 days of James Burke and Patrick Moore explaining all about trans lunar injections etc. with rather primitive graphics (by todays standards) because basically nothing much happened until they entered lunar orbit.

Of course Patrick Moore was a bit of an expert on observing the moon so much so that NASA consulted him with regard to possible landing sites.

There is lots of stuff on You Tube about the mission and the Saturn V tests etc, apparently there is more on the NASA site, I'll check that out later.

The sad thing is that back then we all thought we'd have a moon base by 1975 and by now we would have colonies on Mars and beyond!

This obviously highlights the fact that the Apollo programme was funded out of a need by the US to beat the USSR to the "prize", once that had been achieved the US population didn't feel the need for more taxes etc to fund the project. I wonder how the Apollo programme compared with the Vietnam war in terms of tax dollars? I don't mean to get political but I do wonder where we might be if we didn't waste so much money fighting each other rather than just getting on with things in a civilised manner!

As for the people who think it was all a fake, the two main arguments I've seen are the Van Allen belt and the lack of stars in the photos taken by the Astronauts from the surface.

Firstly, I reckon the guys were told there was a risk with the Van Allen belt in terms of health and I reckon they all signed up for it, and in fact a number of them have died of cancer since, although I am no expert on how the numbers stack up against a statistical norm.

Where I can offer an educated opinion is the photos, the lunar surface would be no different (in fact worse) than here on Earth in terms of getting the stars to show on photos. Don't forget the photos were taken in "daylight" and even though the moon has little atmosphere etc, for the stars to appear Neil would have had to mount his camera on a tripod and a take a minimum 1 minute exposure. This would have resulted in the foreground (the lunar surface) being grossly overexposed and totally useless. Of course without a motor driven equatorial mount the stars would have also shown as trails!

Anyway, enough for now, more next week hopefully!