Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins:

It's hard to believe that it has been thirty-five years since the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Wasn't the twenty-fifth anniversary last year?

NPR had an interesting piece on this morning about how close the LM came to running out of fuel on landing - less than 17 seconds of fuel remained, and perhaps as little as six. This is a testament to Aldrin & Armstrong's training, as they knew they could cut it this close and still fire the Ascent Module engine to get away.

An excellent source for material on the mission is the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

Another little known near-snafu was that both the Lunar Module and the EVA suits were being modified up to the last possible moments. The manufacturers nearly forgot to consult on the changed specifications, and a space suit that wouldn't fit out the LM hatch nearly resulted. Now that would have been a neat finish - "Err, Houston, we have a problem (Buzz! What the blazes is going on? I'm stuck!)" As it was, the astronauts could not wear the cameras on their chests, because they would not fit. They had to pass those out separately.

Regarding the famous Hasselblad 500EL cameras, Apollo 11 carried only two of them, one silver and one black (according to Aldrin and Armstrong, but contrary to the link, which states that there were three cameras onboard). The silver was for use inside and out (silver to keep temperature stable), and the black was for intra-vehicular use only. Black camera bodies became very fashionable after the Apollo flight, since this was the camera that returned - the silver one with the Reseau crosses was left on the surface to save weight for the return trip.

Oh, and Armstrong did not say "Good luck Mr. Gorsky" on re-entering the LM. That is an urban myth.

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