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Space Science

Apollo 11's 35th Anniversary 318

colonist writes "35 years ago, on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 began to achieve the goal set by the late President Kennedy: '...before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth'. On July 20, Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command module Columbia while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface in the lunar module Eagle. The descent engine was halfway through its final 12-minute burn when a yellow caution light lit up on the display of the lunar module computer. [ARMSTRONG: Program Alarm... It's a 1202. ALDRIN: 1202. (Pause) ARMSTRONG: (To Buzz) What is it? Let's incorporate (the landing radar data). (To Houston) Give us a reading on the 1202 Program Alarm.] Buzz Aldrin's recollection: 'Back in Houston, not to mention on board the Eagle, hearts shot up into throats while we waited to learn what would happen. We had received two of the caution lights when Steve Bales the flight controller responsible for LM computer activity, told us to proceed... We received three or four more warnings but kept on going. When Mike, Neil, and I were presented with Medals of Freedom by President Nixon, Steve also received one. He certainly deserved it, because without him we might not have landed.' Fred Martin describes the incidents, and Peter Adler looks at the design of the system."
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Apollo 11's 35th Anniversary

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  • by nxg125 ( 30911 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#9718740)
    Personally, I prefer The Onion's [] coverage of the event. Fair and balanced, you might say.
  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#9718750)
    For anyone who has HBO and hasn't seen it, there is a twelve part 'docudrama' on HBO called "From Earth to the Moon". It covers the all the Apollo missions and is absolutely fascinating. It is available now if you have On Demand.
    • Also, it exists on DVD and VHS tape (ew). I am borrowing it from my boss at work. I was impressed by its ratings [] and reviews. :)

      I hope to start watching the miniseries this weekend. I didn't know it was 35th anniversary until I read /. story. Nice timing for me. ;)
    • As one who grew up with the space program from Alan Shepard, through the landings on the moon, I think the HBO film "from the earth to the moon" was one of the best documentary/drama shows that has been on tv. Well writen, VERY accurate. They did a tremendous job with that show. They used a lot of well made props along with the actors portraying them. If you have not seen this, and you have any interest in the early years of NASA, pick up a copy and watch it. It was a nice was to remember the "glory" ye
    • From Earth to the Moon series is great, largely based on Andrew Chaikin's book, "A Man on the Moon", a great read. Tom Hanks did it, after doing Apollo 13. The book that movie is based on was written by Jim Lovell, the commander, and was originally called "Lost Moon". Also worth a read.

      Regarding Steve Bales getting a medal, score a big one for the geeks.
      • Yeah don't bother asking for "Lost Moon" though. I spent days trying to find that and someone finally knew enough to know they quit printing it with that title & renamed it Apollo 13 after the movie. Maybe the original titled version is worth more....dunno.
  • And marvel at what was, and think back of what we thought could be, and see what is, I ask simply WHY?
    • I wrote

      And marvel at what was, and think back of what we thought could be, and see what is, I ask simply WHY?

      Flamebait? I simply meant that there was so much awe at the accomplishment, and the promise of a manned Mars mission not much later, or a permanent moon colony, but that when the entire moon project was acrapped after 1972, and we relegated ourself to "shuttles", I am extremely disappointed. Why is that flamebait?
  • 35 years... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by no reason to be here ( 218628 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:46PM (#9718785) Homepage
    and we haven't done much at all comparable since.

    That's not to say that NASA hasn't done some great things since or recently (Hubble, Pathfinder, Opportunity and Spirit, Voyager, Pioneer all spring to mind immediately), but there hasn't been a significant excursion into space by mankind since the last Apollo mission.

    Well, maybe the ISS counts for something in that regard. *shrug*
    • Re:35 years... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kippy ( 416183 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:54PM (#9718895)
      Well, maybe the ISS counts for something in that regard. *shrug*

      Nope. The ISS is a dead end and an expensive one at that. I defy anyone to come up with a valid reason for ISS that doesn't involve training ants to soft tiny screws in space. It is not a stepping stone to the Moon, Mars or elsewhere, it is not an important technological midpoint between LEO and planetary or lunar excursions, and it has most certainly been done before. What there is go be gained by doing it again has never been clear.
      • Re:35 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RatBastard ( 949 )
        It exists to justify the existance of the Space Shuttle, another over-priced boondogle.
        • Amen. Don't even get me started on the shuttle. You know what sold Nixon on the idea? The crazy idea that we could use it to steal Soviet satellites. One silly star trek style selling point and the space program was put in idle for 30 years.
      • Re:35 years... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:25PM (#9719290) Homepage
        Well, it is a nice convenient platform for doing experiments on long-term keeping of life (especially humans) in zero-G, and has had some benefits for learning good (and bad) design elements for habitat construction, space suits, docking systems, long-term stationkeeping, etc.

        Beyond that, yeah, it's really just a political tool, both domestically and internationally.
        • Re:35 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kippy ( 416183 )
          My beef is that all the zero-G and life support stuff was established with Skylab and Mir. Further development would have been done as part of a Mars mission or further Moon ones. Apollo was done right because they had a clear goal and had to figure out the details in between. Randomly developing technologies is very inefficient if your mindset is "this will be useful for something someday". That was the justification for ISS for the most part.
          • Re:35 years... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:37PM (#9719442) Homepage
            1. Mars and the moon are not zero G, nor do they advance several of the mentioned techs (for example, stationkeeping).

            2. Skylab and Mir were tiny and tested only the tech of the time. And they encountered a number of failings that have been remedied with the ISS. And the ISS is, in turn, uncovering a number of failings. We need to be able to fix things if we want to become a spacefaring race.
            • Getting to mars requires several months of 0-g living and life support.

              So your justification for ISS is so that we get better at fixing problems on space stations? At what point do we say, "we're good at fixing space stations, now let's go to Mars"? We'll get good at being a spacefairing race when we restart traveling through space to get to other worlds. Dicking around in a vacuum with no clear destination is nonsense.
              • Re:35 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Rei ( 128717 )
                Wait a minute - are you saying that we should *learn on the way to Mars* - so that if something goes wrong, the entire project is lost?

                Remind me never to work for you.... ;)
          • Re:35 years... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <.gundbear. .at.> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:54PM (#9719689) Homepage
            Your argument can be equally applied to any research science.

            "My beef is that all the nuclear science and atomic research was established with the Manhattan Project and the first A-Bomb. Further development would have been done as part of a Mars mission or further Moon ones. Nuclear power stations were done right because they had a clear goal and had to figure out the details in between. Randomly developing technologies is very inefficient if your mindset is 'this will be useful for something someday'. That was the justification for nuclear fusion for the most part."

            Except as part of funding nuclear fusion, we have grade A laser technologies. We now have laser accelerated fission technologies, and smaller, faster, more efficient lasers. LASIK, anyone? We have aircraft mounted lasers, and laser diodes too.

            Yes, ISS is expensive. Yes it has no value TODAY. Yes it's political. Yes it draws flak. But it isn't useless. It isn't worthless. It will have ramifications in 100 years we can't predict today. Yes, so would a Moon base or Mars base; but that is why we need to go forward.

            My question is if we had a Moon base instead of the ISS, would you be the kind to complain,

            "My beef is all the low-G and survivability stuff was established with Apollo and Mercury missions. Further development would have been done as part of a space station. Apollo was done right because they had a clear goal and had to figure out the details in between. Randomly developing technologies is very inefficient if your mindset is "this will be useful for something someday". That was the justification for the Moonbase for the most part."
    • Re:35 years... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:18PM (#9719180) Homepage
      Quite to the contrary. NASA hasn't done anything as *showy and wasteful* since.

      While you don't see it every day, even on failed projects, NASA has been advancing the core sciences behind the space program. Did you know, for example, that they're making good progress on solid rocket boosters with ISPs near that of H2/O2 liquid rockets, and much greater density? (Alane - stabilized aluminum hydride). Are you familiar with NASA's materials technologies developed fro the shuttle - not just the "tiles", but all kinds of other systems for radiating heat, the efficient turbopumps and other technologies in the SSMEs, and even ways of applying corrosion-resistant linings for the nozzles through atomic-level gradients of materials so that they don't need to be reapplied each time? Even completely failed projects, such as the X-33, had some major tech advances that occurred in the process of development.

      NASA has been working on huge amounts of basic technology behind the scenes. Yes, if you give them an extra couple billion, they could blow it in a big showy "We did it!" event if you wanted. They could rebuild another Generic Big Rocket(tm) and launch huge amounts of payload off the planet for (insert mission here). But I'm happy to see them advancing science instead of just repeating the past on a larger scale, personally.

      Not that major missions don't advance science; it's just about cost efficiency.
      • Re:35 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cmowire ( 254489 )
        The problem is, sure they made some great stuff, but they rarely get a chance to flight test it. All of the stuff they made for the X-33 (better heat shielding, aerospike engines, etc) never actually flew. Sure the aerospike engine worked on the stand, but there could be interesting stuff that happens at high altitude. How long did it take them to move ion engines from the lab to DS1 to actually test it?

        The problem is, most of the budget goes towards an army of NASA employees and contractors, to keep th
      • Alane (Score:3, Informative)

        by cameldrv ( 53081 )
        Alane would probably give an Isp of about 300-310 sec in an actual rocket. While that's very good for a solid, and is competitive with LOX/Kerosene, it's nowhere near Lox/LH2 which is typically about 450 sec for a good engine such as the SSME or newer RL-10s.
  • There is an interesting Book out now called Lost in Space : The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age ( 5 421505/qid=1089999998/sr=8-6/ref=pd_ka_6/002-29955 58-2684827?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 ) which deals with this time in the history as well as the current time. I've been hearing that it is rather good and gives you an understanding of how NASA came to be the great beurocracy it is now ...
  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skiron ( 735617 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:49PM (#9718833) Homepage

    ...the greatest achievement man has done yet - I was 10 at the time, and can still remember looking up to the moon and thinking men were walking about on it


    • Re:Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kiriwas ( 627289 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:26PM (#9719308) Homepage
      I just realized as I read your comment how sad it is that I, at 20 years old, have never been able to walk outside and look up and think "There is a human up there". To me it may as well be ancient history. I guess I'm saying I just realized how much I'm really missing living in the era after NASA died.
  • by mattjb0010 ( 724744 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:50PM (#9718840) Homepage
    The Dish [].
  • Celebration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:51PM (#9718857) Journal
    Members of the model/amateur/experimental rocket community are holding a celebration of sorts online. Rocketers are invited to logon to The Rocketry Forum ( and be onine across the time point Tuesday, July 20, 10:56:15 PM EDT. This is 35 years to the second from Armstrong's "one small step". Many will be in chat, but the main point is to get as many people logged onto the board as possible during that time. Even if you've just a passing interest, drop by and check it out, and help out with the numbers just by being there. Or sign up (free) and hang around.

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:54PM (#9718888)

    35 years ago we put a man on the moon.. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

    What kills me is that people exclaim how the iPOD, XBOX or Furby is "revolutionary" or will change how the world does [insert buzzword here].

    I wonder how many high school students today even know we put a man on the moon...

  • yellow warning lights and it's never hurt m Aaaghhhhh!!!!, I'm on FIRE! Help me!!

    (Impressive how I can keep typing while on fire, isn't it? Now where was I? Oh yeah.)

    Aaaghhhhh!!!!!!! Help ME!!!!

  • a matter of focus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by novakane007 ( 154885 )
    Kennedey was not a war president. Instead of using the military industrial complex to float the US economy, like many presidents, he used NASA. This gave the people a goal and boosted the nations pride without having to stomp on a smaller nation. If the US spent half of the military budget on NASA our world would look far different. Science and technology have shown their ability to create massive wealth and prosperity. Look at what a tech focus did for the Clinton era. Let's revive the NASA era. Afteral
    • Re:a matter of focus (Score:4, Informative)

      by EugeneK ( 50783 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:06PM (#9719039) Homepage Journal
      Kennedy was involved [] in helping start one of the major stompings of a smaller nation of the 20th century, known as the Vietnam War...
      • Kennedy started a coup in early November. He was dead before the end of the month. You can blame Johnson for the bloody never ending war that followed. Nixon didn't help the situation either! Kennedey can hardly be held accountable for how the Vietnam war was handled.
    • Re:a matter of focus (Score:2, Informative)

      by BK425 ( 461939 )
      That's right, he had nothing to do with the bay of pigs. And if you deny it those people who tried to assisinate Fidel so many times might show up on your doorstep. But Kennedy also had nothing to do with that ; )
    • If NASA got half the military budget, it would be about 12 times its current size. Shit, we could have a bustling Martian population now with that kind of support provided the proper direction. Of course, it's possible to piss all that away on go-nowhere stuff like the ISS.

      With the proper direction, there should be a Martian population now. When the NASA focus was switched from the Apollo mindset to low earth orbit and shuttle thinking, it crippled NASA as an productive organization.
    • by LehiNephi ( 695428 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:14PM (#9719129) Journal
      The tech focus of the Clinton era led to an over-inflated economy that collapsed under its own unrealistic expectations. People blame bush for the economy tanking in 2000. It was not his fault, nor do I blame Clinton(as much as I would like to). It was similar to the time leading up to the Great Depression--wild hysteria about how much money one could make easily, followed by ruined hopes (and fortunes) when reality set in.

      I will, however agree that the space program (including the much-maligned ISS) does contribute to the development of new products. However, we need to stop shouldering such a vast majority of the financial responsibility for it.
  • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @01:57PM (#9718932) Journal
    Wheres the mention of the most infamous mistake ever?

    "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"

    should of been

    "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"
    • by Inoshiro ( 71693 )
      You don't know the difference between the homonyms "should've" and "should of" even though "should of" is not sensical, and recognized as a common mistake of English speakers.
  • Interesting that the tin foil brigade hasn't appeared yet to claim that the entire landing was faked.
  • by MisanthropicProgram ( 763655 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:02PM (#9718993)
    1. How many of you wanted to become an astronaut after seeing the moon landing only to give up when you realized that :

    You had to join the military

    AND You had to get more degrees than a thermometer

    2. How many of you think that "Apollo" is only a character on "Battlestar Gallactica"

    • Not entirely true, but mostly, since the first man to set foot on the Moon was actually one of the very few civilians in the program, as was the last, geologist Jack Schmitt.
      • "... since the first man to set foot on the Moon was actually one of the very few civilians in the program ..."

        Neil Armstrong? Civilian? Umm, he was Navy. Called to active duty in 1949, flew 78 combat missions in Korea off the USS Essex in an F9F-2 Panther. Awarded the Air Medal and two Gold Stars.

        • By the time he became an astronaut, he was out of the Navy and back to being a civilian.
        • Armstrong left the Navy in 1955 to become a civilian test pilot for the X-15. Before becoming an astronaut, he was a consultant to Boeing on the X-20 (Dyna-Soar) around 1960. He was selected as an astronaut in 1963 as part of the "Next Nine".

          It was a big thing that he was a civilian and an important factor in his being chosen to be mission commander for an Apollo mission.

      • The FIRST civilian with no military background was a geologist on apollo 17.
        I think it was Dr. Harrison Schmidt, PhD in geology and a BS from Caltech, to boot! ml
    • Actually as the other poster pointed out, civilians went too.

      As for the degrees, not of people were inspired to get an education for that exact reason. This was a benefit that I don't think NASA had even envisioned but was probably more enriching to our country than anything else.

      No one looks at shuttle astronauts and says "wow, I want to go into orbit and go back down again". The idea of being real explorers was very engaging. I only hope the new Mars push gets seen through. It will have the same eff
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3&yahoo,com> on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:07PM (#9719053) Homepage Journal
    Here's why I'm so pissed at the Partisan situation in America.

    For those of you who are non-American, let me explain: In America, we have become SO polarized that the moment a democrat says something, a republican immediately says "why it's wrong/why he's REALLY doing it for some evil purpose" - and vice versa. I guarentee you, Al Franken has already decided that whatever Bush will do in 2006 (if elected) is already wrong, EVEN BEFORE HEARING IT! Same way that republicans ALWAYS said clinton was wrong (When Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998, Republicans said it was only to distract us from Monica). And yes, Rush already agrees with whatever Bush agrees with and hates Hilary Clinton's Senate bills even before they're presented. This goes both ways.

    Today, had president X said that we have to unite as a nation and go to Mars by 2016, the other side would immediately say "It's stupid/useless/waste of money/just a distraction from (problem Y)."

    Was Kennedy's space-race politically motivated? Yeah. Is it a good thing it happened? From my point of view... definately. Science doesn't know politics. Martian soil doesn't really care about WMDs or Gay Marriage. I hope that the next leader to make such a bold statement is met with some sort of unity, and not bickering. (But it won't).

    As Chris Rock said in his latest comedy special about partisan politics: "Anyone who decides on an issue... before hearing the issue... is abolutely f*@&ing crazy!"

    • Only one crazy line stood out: "Science doesn't know politics"

      Hmmm.. Have you ever worked in the beltway at organizations like CDC, HHS, NIH? Remember scientist need money to do R&D, where does money come from: budgets. Regardless if you are public or private, the budget cycle is the most politizied process. Remember a common definition of politics is who gets what when and where.

      You're dead on about the division in America. We're exactly 50 / 50 between the sides. I actually think it is a good thing,
    • Those of us who aren't American don't know who Al Franken is. From context, I presume a Democrat?
      • Those of us who aren't American don't know who Al Franken is. From context, I presume a Democrat?

        Those of us who are American still don't know who Al Franken is. From context, I presume a Democrat as well?

  • by dmadole ( 528015 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:07PM (#9719055)

    When I was eight or nine years old a neighbor gave me a copy of The Invasion of the Moon 1969 by Peter Ryan. I've read it at least a dozen times since then.

    It's a paperback, mostly consisting of transcripts of the communications between Mission Control and the Apollo 11 mission, with commentary and explanation interspersed.

    Sadly, the book is long out of print, but you can find used copies through the usual sources. I bought one a couple years ago for a friend who read mine and liked it.

  • I was 8 when they landed on the Moon. I remember having an Apollo 11 poster, a nice commemorative book from the local Gulf Oil gas station, a nice leather-bound book on the history of scape flight, and more space books than I can count. Looking up at the moon and thinking that people were there made a huge impression on me because I have always wanted to visit any visible, yet distant, location. My parents even used my fascination with space to encourage me to do better in school.

    It's too bad that we do
  • If the moon landing was real, how come they didn't find these guys? []
  • by Mean_Nishka ( 543399 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:16PM (#9719158) Homepage Journal
    Although the article above links to a portion of this site, the full Lunar Surface Journal [] offers an incredibly detailed look at the Apollo program, including audio, video, and high resolution images from the missions. Be warned, you will spend hours there :).
  • by bdigit ( 132070 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:18PM (#9719179)
    Since Tom Hanks was up in space? I must say Tom is a great astronaut and a hero to all of us for his efforts in outterspace.
  • 413 is in.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:18PM (#9719191) Homepage Journal
    Drifting forward just a little.
    That's good.
    Contact light.
    Shut down.
    Okay. Engine stop.
    ACA out of detent.
    Out of detent. Auto.
    Mode control, both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm off. 413 is in.
    We copy you down eagle.
    Engine arm is of. Houston, Tranquility base here. The eagle has landed.
    Roger Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we're breathing again, thank you. .................

    I wasnt born then. Still there is a lump in my throat when I read those words. I wish I am alive when we hear something along these lines when we touch down on the Red Planet..or even farther..

    Wish for a moment, we could stop all this crap going around and remember those brave souls who perished in our urge to leap higher and honor their souls by setting higher goals and achieve them.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:19PM (#9719207)
    A major stop on NASA's space center tour is the moonwalking shrine.The tour leader beams with pride, but I am saddened by NASA's lack of progress in manned space exploration the past 35 years. Its a dusty old museum of past glories.
  • Sad isn't it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jzarling ( 600712 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:22PM (#9719244)
    In the 60s we looked ahead, learned from failure, tried again and landed on the moon.

    Now when we fail, we look back, assign blame, postpone, assign blame, and postpone some more.

  • All the funding at NASA never went to a nobler effort than getting this man his oral sex.

    Happy Anniversary, Mr. Gorsky! []
  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @02:27PM (#9719312) Homepage Journal
    Can be found here []

    It was sounded because the computer was receiving more instructions than it could handle and it was getting to the point where it would have just stopped executing them, leading to an abort.
  • The real story from those who were there; 1 /a11.1201-fm.html

    Quoting Fred H. Martin, At the time Deputy director of mission development;

    'I remember bumping into one of our M.I.T. engineers, George Silver, who was usually at our office at Cape Kennedy. George had been involved in and witnessed many pre-flight tests. I asked him in frustration if he had ever seen the Apollo Guidance Computer run slowly and under what conditions. To my surprise and rather mat

  • Rant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:03PM (#9719835) Homepage Journal

    I have been reading Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct (borrowed from my father-in-law) and yesterday I came to a conclusion. I must mention that I have some very deeply held political ideology: I am a strong anarcho-libertarian. I believe all taxation ought to be repealed, the purpose of government ought to be limited to defense of rights against aggression, important government projects like space exploration ought to be handled through voluntary donation and/or private enterprise, and government ought to relinquish its monopoly and allow competing governments to be set up within the same geographic region.


    Reading Mars Direct yesterday I suddenly found myself just amazingly mad. Yes, space exploration ought to be handled by private enterprise ... but the reforms needed to bring about the ideal libertarian society I believe would handle this are decades off and will probably not occur in my lifetime. Meanwhile, the government is still taking our money ... and what are we getting for it? Mankind has not set foot on the moon in my lifetime, and even if he did I'm not sure what it would accomplish. But Mars has been sitting there, waiting. How many billions of dollars have been spent on the space program since man landed on the moon in 1969, and why have those billions of dollars not gotten us to Mars?

    If they are going to take my money away to support space exploration, something I would have voluntarily given my contributions for, they ought to at least produce what they promise to deliver. But we're sitting on earth, noone is in transit to Mars, and noone is there to look at these emissions of ammonia and methane to see if it's rocks or life.

    And the saddest thing of all is ... for a mere 20 billion dollars, someone could be sitting there right now to answer our questions for us. That's awful.

    So yesterday I threw a lot of my principles out the window. Yes, I don't believe space exploration should be handled by governments instead of private industry ... but for crying out loud, it ought to be handled, somehow! And we shouldn't have to wait until my grandchildren have grandchildren to see it. It can be done, now for $20 billion. It ought to start TODAY. George Bush (I like him; I know many of you do not) should be on the news, announcing that we have a plan to take us to Mars in less than 10 years for 20 billion dollars, and it starts today. Congress ought to be passing the paperwork as we speak. This is more important than just about any other political issue. This is about the future of the human race. Are we going to stagnate, or are we going to explore the new frontier?

    And you know what? That $20 billion is trivial. Governments spend that all the time. That's less than 1% of the national debt. And after all the trouble we went to to get a balanced budget, we're currently running a deficit again. Look, if we can pay off $3 trillion (that was the national debt when I was about 15; I don't know what it is, now) at some unidentified future date, we can pay off another $20 billion at some unidentified future date. Quit whining, borrow the money, and do it! The plans are sitting on your desk.

    NASA could be scrapped and we'd free up $15.5 billion for this project. But actually if we spread the plan out over ten years, it's only $2 billion. Half of NASA's plans are silly float humans in LEO plans that are doing nothing, anyway. (Many of these are designed to research irrelevant Mars mission scenarios, like long term effects to zero-g. Mars Direct provides for spinning the transit vehicle (duh!) to provide gravity. What a waste!) Drop a few of those, free up the money, and do it. Better yet, forget NASA altogether. Let NASA go ahead with their work (yes, much of it is excellent; I'm just in rant mode; the rovers are great, the probes are great, but the places we are sending humans stink). Meanwhile, we could just increase

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:04PM (#9719837) Journal
    On the subject of getting us out of Low Earth Orbit again, one month ago NASA organized a workshop to brainstorm and refine ideas for cash prizes, as part of the Centennial Challenges Program []. I was on their web site, and noticed that a Post-Workshop Report is now available []. There's quite a bit of good information there regarding possible prizes.

    Here's a list of possible prize goals which were examined in detail (from TOC):
    - Precision Lander
    - Astronaut Glove
    - Mobile Power Breakthrough
    - Micro Reentry Vehicle
    - Robot Triathlon
    - Lunar Processing Demo
    - Quantum Computer
    - Lunar Landing
    - Telerobotic Race
    - General Aviation
    - 3-Dimensional Detector
    - Autonomous Earth Analog Sample Return
    - Long-Duration Cryogenic Propellant Storage Tank
    - Perpetual (30-Day) UAV
    - Aircraft Engine
    - Deployable Telescopes
    - Aerocapture
    - Autonomous UAV Cargo Hauler
    - Human Radiation Shielding
    - Solar Sail Race
    - Rover Survivor
    - Planetary Surface Power Transmission
    - Extreme Environment Computer
    - Mars Com/Nav Micromission
    - Autonomous Drill
    - Nanotube Tether
    - In-Situ Life Detector
    - Asteroid Mission
    - Miniature Robotic Flyer
    - Human Space Flight - Orbiter Technology
    - Human Space Flight - Suborbital Flight
    - Human Space Flight - PVT APOLLO 8
    - Education
    - Suborbital Flights for Scientific Payloads
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:15PM (#9720028) Journal
    Journal home page []

    ... and particularly interesting, all regarding Apollo 11, in chronological order:

    - Landing []
    - Post Landing Activities []
    - EVA Preparations []
    - One Small Step []
    - Mobility and Photography []
    - EASEP Deployment and Close-out []
    - Trying to Rest []
    - The Return to Orbit []

    These transcripts also have RealAudio (blergh, but better than nothing I guess :-P) clips if you really want to get into mood. :-)

  • by The Wookie ( 31006 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @03:20PM (#9720092)
    As he planted the flag on the moon, Armstrong yelled out "First Post", but was quickly modded-down by mission control.

    Although he claimed that he wasn't bitter about being left in the command module, Michael Collins spent his time alone by replacing Neil Armstrong's Tang with Metamucil and reversing the direction on the toilet hose.

    During their training, the Apollo 11 astronauts were taught to identify over 1200 varieties of cheese, "just in case..."

    Buzz Aldrin's capsule record of 72 zero-G somersaults before puking has never been broker.

    Mission Control was commanded to whisper while Buzz Aldrin was hitting a golf ball.

    The following conversation occurred during one of the lunar rover expiditions, but was quickly hushed up:

    Buzz: Watch it!
    Neil: Huh?
    Buzz: Right there!
    Neil: Where?
    Mission Control: What was that?
    Buzz: Neil hit something.
    Mission Control: Some form of life?!?
    Buzz: Not any more.

    Buzz Aldrin stated that his biggest regret was that he 3-putted Mare Imbrium.
  • Eagle Lander 3D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Friday July 16, 2004 @04:07PM (#9720843) Homepage Journal

    Doom. Quake. Unreal Tournament. All games where you play the role of a hero against insurmountable odds. All deliciously showy and fun as hell. But... Could you step into the shoes of an actual hero and land Apollo 11?

    Download Eagle Lander 3D [] and find out. From their home page:

    Eagle Lander 3D (EL3D) is an authentic simulation of the Apollo lunar landings. EL3D includes accurate renditions of scenery, flight dynamics and the lunar module. EL3D has developed from a freeware first generation Apollo 11 simulator to one that will recreate every Apollo landing mission. Currently EL3D includes Apollo 11,12, 15, a LM racing course and an orbital module. [ ... ]

    I don't know about anyone else, but this simple simulation has somewhat skewed my view of FPS games. I have passable 5k1llz in QuakeWorld and UT, but they are absolutely useless trying to land a LEM. Patience and attention to detail are the key here, not twitch-and-fire. (You couldn't "twitch" a LEM, anyway.) I've played Eagle Lander a bit, and I'm no damn good at it.

    Think about that for a second. I've wrecked a LEM several times in this game/simulator. Hey, no big deal, right? Just restart the game. Now, think about Neil Armstrong, sitting there in the middle of what's essentially the ultimate desert, a half million miles from home, being watched by a billion people, flying this tiny little metal can, trying to kiss the surface of the moon. Granted, he had years of training in simulators and mockups, but this is the real deal, and he absolutely cannot fuck this up! No retries, no $0.25 for three more lives. One shot. Success or absolute failure.

    Now, keep that frame of reference in mind when you grab the controls of Eagle Lander 3D, and see if it doesn't even slightly mess with your sense of gravity about what you're doing (pun not intended).


"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors