Tag: Moon

Do Something Appropriate


The world of Apollo 8 was in some ways very different than the world in which we find ourselves today; in others, not so much.  In 1968 there was war, same as today.  Then there was civil strife, same as today.  But the men of Apollo were forged in the crucible of the Depression and World War.  They were daring and brilliant.  They went about their astronaut business with drive and returned from space to pick up where they left off.

I know there are many here who have far more knowledge of the space program than I do. I have the love of Apollo forged by new color televisions and Major Matt Mason, Mattel’s Man in Space. Yet the tiny fraternity of men who traveled to the moon is getting smaller. Last week, Ken Mattingly died. Yesterday, Frank Borman died.

Aldrin on Stage, Heinlein on Film


Sunday, June 5, 2005. My wife reminded me that there was a two o’clock show of Destination Moon at the Aero Theater, an old-time neighborhood movie theater with an interesting history. This film rarely plays anywhere but on video; its last L.A. screening had been during our overnight movie marathon in 1995. We didn’t expect much bustle on a Sunday afternoon. To our surprise, there was a crowd spilling out into the street. Then I read that Destination Moon would be preceded by a question-and-answer session with Buzz Aldrin.

That’s right, Edwin Aldrin Jr., General, USAF (Ret.)—the lunar module pilot who made the first moon landing. The moment was certainly unreal.  This movie theater, the Aero, was built during the war specifically for 24-hour, three-shift use of aircraft assembly workers, hence its name.  Buzz Aldrin flew in World War II, and was still alive to stand in front of us.  Then he went on to defy death in Korea.  Then he went into space with Gemini.  Then…

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Farouk El-Baz, retired research professor and director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University. They discuss his remarkable, varied, and pioneering career in the sciences, surveying both the heavens and the Earth, and key teachers and scientists who have influenced him. Dr. El-Baz shares what it was like serving as supervisor of Lunar Science Planning for NASA’s Apollo program, and working on the world-changing project of putting a human on the Moon. He describes what the Apollo program needed to know beforehand to map the Moon in order to select the landing site, and the key scientific facts about the Moon that NASA needed to gather to ensure the mission’s ultimate success.

In the second phase of his career in science, Dr. El Baz used remote sensing and space images to explore for groundwater in the largest deserts on Earth. He explains how surveying the Moon informed this work, and the most significant and surprising discoveries he has made with remote sensing. Lastly, they talk about the mathematical and scientific background knowledge that best prepares students for careers in STEM fields.

This Week’s Book Review – Final Frontier


I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

The Moon can make for entertaining science fiction


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss polling revealing 51 percent of Americans support ICE deportation raids compared to just 35 percent who are opposed. They once again dive into the controversy involving Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar and theTrump rally chants of “send her back.” And they shake their heads as the Washington Post and The New York Times suggest the Apollo 11 moon landing was a giant leap for only white men.

To the Moon! 50th Anniversary Year Starts


This is the 50th anniversary of Americans reaching the Moon, fulfilling President Kennedy’s challenge, to reach the Moon and safely return, before the end of the 1960s. The first man set foot on the Moon, 20 July 1969. This week marks the beginning of the methodical series of Apollo missions that led up to Apollo 11.

On 11 October 1968, Apollo 7 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying a full crew, to simulate the crew going to the moon. The lunar module was not yet ready for live testing, so that component was not included. The three-man crew was Walter M. Schirra, Jr., commander, Donn F. Eisele, command module pilot, and Walter Cunningham, lunar module pilot.

Apollo 7 was the first American manned mission since the catastrophe of Apollo 1, where the crew ( Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee) had been burnt to death, trapped in their capsule on the launchpad, when a fire raged out of control in a 100% oxygen atmosphere. Apollo 7 took off with a nitrogen-oxygen cabin atmosphere, to prevent another catastrophic fire.

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First off: Apologies. Apologies to NASA, to anyone who worked on the Apollo missions. Apologies to those on this site who really get a kick out of geology, physics, astronomy, atoms, … cells… nucleic stuff….periodic table….zzzzz…I’m sorry, where was I?  Oh yes, science stuff. I find those subjects a little dry, but thank God many […]

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Christmas Greetings from the Moon


The first manned mission to the moon, Apollo 8, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. On that evening 47 years ago, the astronauts — Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders — held a live broadcast from above the moon’s surface, in which they showed images of the Earth and moon as seen from their tiny spacecraft. They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis and wished a Merry Christmas to all the people on “the good Earth.”

Why Mars Instead of the Moon?


moon-meetMaybe I am influenced by having read Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when it was first published, but I am wondering about all the recent PR for a manned mission to Mars — even by some people who are not named Robert Zubrin — and whether it is just the romance of going to another planet. The Moon seems to make much more sense for a first permanent base (i.e. not an orbital space station) for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s closer.
  2. There is micro-gravity.
  3. If you go underground, you might be in decent shape for protection against high energy particles.
  4. There appears to be water ice in some of the craters.
  5. Mining on the Moon might, or might not, be worth the effort of going there. (Isn’t a useful isotope of Hydrogen available on the Moon and not on Earth?)
  6. The Moon, being out of the deepest part of Earth’s gravity well is, from a propulsion energy perspective, about halfway to anywhere in the inner solar system.

So what are the arguments in favor of Mars and against the Moon, besides “been there, done that?”