50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – It’s Yesterday Once More

I grew up with the space program. My first firm memory about it was staying inside during fourth grade recess to listen to Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight on a nice day in May. Other standouts were the in-orbit rendezvous of the Gemini program, the Apollo 1 fire where I learned this really was a dangerous enterprise, Apollo 8 firing their thrusters on the other side of the moon in contact with no one. Earthrise. The Eagle has landed, and Walter Cronkite is speechless for the only time in his career.

Apollo 11 – Tranquility Base

That was the summer after my freshman year in college. Too busy to follow Apollo 13 in detail, but the LEM will keep them alive. Apollo 14 in person with friends from college. Apollo 17 with a professional geologist aboard, but Armstrong did a great job for an amateur. Realizing that the book Mom gave me, You Will Go To the Moon was wrong. And realizing that the government really had no good plans for what to do with the moon after we won the space race. How about that, Apollo wasn’t a science mission, it wasn’t even an engineering project, it was a political statement from the outset, even though it was hard and worth doing.

The Space Shuttle arriving, but not in time to save Skylab. Holding one of the protective tiles developed for the shuttle. Joining the impromptu welcome home gathering after Christa McAuliffe was chosen to be the first teacher in space. Seeing her not reach space. Seeing spots on Jupiter left by Comet Shoemaker-Levy. (Gene Shoemaker was supposed to be an astronaut. Some of his ashes did reach the moon and helped form a new crater.)

The Apollo 13 film. Wow, that was dicier than I thought. Enough things went right and the mission ended as well as it could.

“The space shuttle is late.” “It can’t be late, it’s a glider with lousy aerodynamics.” Oh dear, not again.

Meeting Dr. Harrison Schmitt at a Heartland climate change conference. Geologists are often good climate skeptics. They also know Earth has seen far worse than anything Anthropogenic Global Warming can bring. I didn’t ask about Al Gore equating skeptics with flat Earthers. BTW, Schmitt is a really nice guy and very down-to-earth. Sorry.

That’s not why I’m writing this. It’s almost the 50th anniversary and there are photos and other items ready to be used to remember a most precious day.

We’re going to be flooded over the next few days with Apollo 11 memorabilia, anecdotes, claims that we never should have gone there, claims that we should have gone back, and even claims that we never got there.

My addition to this cacophony is simple: Here are a few space-related sites that won’t get the attention I think they deserve.

By the Apollo 11 launch date, I had a very good idea of what would happen, and I wanted to hear it from the radio dialog between the Houston Space Center and the astronauts. I knew whatever network I had on, there would be a talking head in the studio to “help” explain it to the unprepared, so I suggested we watch CBS and Walter Cronkite, figuring that he was the least likely head to say something ridiculous at a key moment.

Experience the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing

A few years ago, I stumbled across Experience the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing and was completely blown away. It must have taken a huge amount of time to put together, but the site features an interactive animation that is better than the live coverage and describes the whole descent and landing with:

  • Air-to-Ground: Audio on left channel, scrolling transcript on left side of animation. Yeah, “Air” isn’t quite right, however, the astronauts were breathing air, not space.
  • Flight Director and controller audio on right channel, transcript on right.
  • Indicators of who is speaking for both channels.
  • Film in the middle. This is from a timelapse movie camera pointed out a window. This was not available live (obviously), but it’s a wonderful addition (obviously).
  • Lunar module pitch angle simulation. If you ever played Lunar Lander on a DEC GT40, you pretty much learned this. (You likely have never heard of a GT40, that’s okay, it’s only 45 years old.)
  • Timeline and bookmarks on the bottom.

Apollo 11 lunar landing animation screenshot

If you start the animation, you will have trouble leaving it before the landing. It’s my favorite Apollo 11 web site by far.

Apollo 11 in Real Time

There was only one thing that could astound me more, and Apollo in Real Time did just that. Their animation covers the entire mission and more – from 20 hours before liftoff to President Nixon’s welcome on the USS Hornet 218 hours later. You will not finish this in one sitting! There are also many parts worth skipping, like deciding when to wake the astronauts during the return leg.

Their summary:

  • All mission control film footage
  • All TV transmissions and onboard film footage
  • 2,000 photographs
  • 11,000 hours of Mission Control audio
  • 240 hours of space-to-ground audio
  • All onboard recorder audio
  • 15,000 searchable utterances
  • Post-mission commentary
  • Astromaterials sample data

Real time from Mars

This isn’t directly related to Apollo or manned space flight, but hey, it’s an example of space flight coverage without a talking head. And it’s a great thing to watch anyway.

Soon before the Curiosity rover reached Mars, I realized I should go off and learn something more about the mission, especially after hearing a radio story and interview with some of the designers. Apparently the landing was going to be more involved than the beach ball approach with Spirit and Opportunity, and they’re going to use a sky crane. Whoa. A what? I quickly found a wonderful description of the complex landing process titled 7 Minutes of Terror: The Challenges of Getting to Mars. It described a dozen or so steps involved in the landing, some easy, some challenging, some “you-must-be-crazy!” They pretty much all had to work right, and I resigned myself to expecting something would fail. How do you test a supersonic parachute in Mars-like conditions anyway?

Unlike the Apollo missions, the Curiosity mission controllers had no control over the landing process. By the time the controllers heard from Curiosity that it hit the atmosphere, the radio delay meant that Curiosity was on the ground. I found a live video feed that showed the ever increasing excitement as each step, big or small, happened perfectly as the probability of success climbed to 100% and the celebration erupts. JPL has learned that getting photos back ASAP is important, and they start coming in before the landing celebration ended. Well done!

On the other hand

The next few years will be the last hurrah (I hope) for the moon landing hoax supporters. I’m not an expert on any aspect of the matter, but I’ve heard only one claim that I couldn’t instantly refute. In the comments, I’ll tolerate one question/claim for each topic. I’ll tolerate a reply from me and one better one. Expect all else to simply get deleted and go swimming with the chemtrails, so save your text on your own system. Comments (especially deleted ones) might get preserved on a personal web page, people who complain may get Email from me, and replies may go on that web page too.

So make it good. As in, if you’re bent out of shape over the lack of stars in the moon photos, include proof that you photograph stars successfully.

Here’s a better idea

Pretty much every post-mission press conference starts out with the astronauts thanking all the thousands of people who worked out of the spot light to make the mission a success. I’m sure the WUWT community has anecdotes, relatives, friends, and other contacts with these unsung heroes. Let’s hear their stories, both the good ones and post-Apollo stories like turbo-pump designers who found that there just isn’t much demand for people who can drain a swimming pool in seconds.

Just for Fun

Finally, inspiration takes many odd paths. One of them led Randall Munroe, author of xkcd.com, to describe the moon landing launch vehicle (i.e. Saturn V to command module escape tower) using a blueprint and only the most common 1,000 words. Saturn, V, rocket, stage, oxygen, NASA, and thousand are not among them. He did a pretty good job, see US Space Team’s Up Goer Five.

102 thoughts on “50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – It’s Yesterday Once More

  1. One of the many unsung heroes of the manned space program is Richard Underwood, he both championed “manned” space photography and trained the astronauts.

    Our collective memory of Gemini/Apollo would be extremely different had we not had someone who knew that so much of its legacy would be in the photos.


    In part:

    Underwood faced opposition within NASA, particularly by engineers who thought photography should be limited to gathering technical information by the spacecraft, with any images of the Earth a waste of time and resources.

    However, Underwood built up support over time with NASA leadership, who were impressed with the imagery, particularly during the Gemini missions. On later Gemini missions, he provided astronauts with lists of potential targets they could photograph when they were supposed to be sleeping. “The astronauts were more than happy to play along; it gave them a rare sense of independence and the opportunity to be more than just a man in the can; to be artists,” Potter wrote.

    Despite those photos, and some other NASA and military missions that offered images of the Earth from higher altitudes (including an “Earthrise” image taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft), those images didn’t really resonate with the public until the two famous images from the Apollo program: Apollo 8’s color image of Earthrise from lunar orbit, and Apollo 17’s “Blue Marble” image taken en route to the Moon. Prior to the launch of Apollo 17, Underwood told Harrison Schmitt that, given that mission’s trajectory, taking an image about five hours into the mission would likely result in something that “would become a classic.” Schmitt took that image, and Underwood turned out to be right.

  2. This post started out as a FaceBook post on my timeline. From one of the comments, this “PSA”:

    I suppose my biggest surprise and disappointment is that HBO has NOT rerun the miniseries “From the Earth To the Moon”.

    EDIT: well HBO IS going to run it: All twelve episodes on Sat, July 20 from 6 am to 6 pm MST. Idiots! Get the DVR ready.

    BTW: I think my favorite episode is #5 – Spider. Focused on the Development engineers at Grumman tasked to do the most difficult under impossible time and weight pressures.

  3. Ric, while sitting in a bunker in Vietnam, I listened to radio coverage of the moon landing. USA! USA! USA!

  4. I remember that day. The family was gathered around the TV, like everyone else in the country. As the Eagle landed and everyone let out a sigh of relieve the silence was punctuated by my father snoring.

    • Absolutely – everyone was glued to the TV that day.
      The moon landing was around 11 am that day, the moon walk was approximately 2 hours later.

      I was in 7th grade that year. We toilet papered the house next door between the moon landing and the moon walk. Nary a soul was outside to catch in broad daylight TP ‘ing the house next door. The parents didnt even catch us.

    • Apollo astronauts, scientists and engineers have formed The Right Climate Stuff

      We, a group of retired and highly experienced engineers and scientists from the Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station eras, have volunteered our time and effort conducting an objective, independent assessment of the AGW alarm and reality of the actual threat. …Our experience during the early days of manned spaceflight proved the importance of this motto:
      “In God we trust, all others bring data”
      These were not only words that guided us during Apollo, but more importantly, words that defined how we did our work. This is what made us proud to be called “Astronauts,” and “Rocket Scientists.” Our study team will continue to adhere to these attitudes in order to achieve the goals of this study.​ …
      During our pioneering years in the US manned space program, scientific controversy over complex technical issues was commonplace at numerous times when NASA needed to make critical spacecraft design and operational decisions affecting safety of astronauts. We have unique skills and experience in problem identification, specification, root cause analysis and rational decision-making applicable to public policy decisions related to the AGW concern. . . .
      We have produced reports which, in our judgment, provide a more realistic projection of the maximum expected earth surface temperature rise over the next 150 years from rising atmospheric GHG levels. We believe that these more realistic projections do not justify the extent to which the UN and others propose to manipulate and likely devastate the various major economies of the world through mandating drastic reductions in the use of fossil fuels.

      See their Reports
      e.g., Bounding GHG Climate Sensitivity for use in Regulatory Decisions February 2014 etc.

  5. Evidence we are in a simulation – Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon.

    True fact.

  6. If you look at the “fingers” on east Merritt Island right between SR520 and SR528 you will see one that is a little longer than the others. The end of Shore Dr.. At the end there was a hill where they had dredged the fingers for building houses. I was standing on that hill looking straight up the Banana River to Pads A and B for all of the Apollo V launches. My dad was on the second floor of the LCC, under the firing rooms on the third floor, babysitting the live video switcher.

    The switcher was the most modern available. It could switch 100 inputs to 100 outputs. Most of the consoles in the firing room had one or two monitors and several camera selection switches. If a console operator needed to see another camera they would call the switcher room and my dad and another guy would switch the monitor over to the desired camera. All video from the launches with the little numbers in them are live, recorded video from the pad. Most video of the launches without the little numbers were not live cameras. They were film cameras.

    My dad climbed all over the MLP and LUT maintaining those cameras.

    I started at KSC on June 1, 1987 right after Challenger. I was there for return to flight and all shuttle launches to the last one. I left KSC right after that. I worked in the industrial area providing support to the Design Engineering Directorate. We provided DE and KSC with with computer services as they transitioned from mainframes to PCs, LANs, servers, and local resources like printers. I was there for the entire transition from terminals to PCs, Windows, MSExchange Mail, Windows NT servers, Office installs, file servers, SQL servers, network cabling, hubs, switches, routers and everything in between. We used to do all of it. Slowly they divided up the work to specialized contracts so now most everyone works in programming, networks, server ops, system analysis or another specialty. Not as much fun.

    Everyone I knew from 1966 up to the end of the shuttle was having more fun that almost anyone else in the world. People that didn’t like it generally left. A period in history that will never be repeated again. There is only one first manned spaceflight.

    • When the picture from the moon was first displayed on TV (and at Houston) it was upside down. After a short time it was flipped over so that it was right side up; quick work but whoever fixed that problem.

      • Quick work in a “scan converter” (imagery from the moon was in a “slow scan” format) somewhere in the network …

      • RicDre
        July 13, 2019 at 4:35 pm

        Yes, I remember the upside down image too for a few seconds. Maybe it was because it was received at “The Dish” in Parkes, NSW Australia!

    • Larry Geiger

      I started at the Space Center in 1988. I worked for many years on the 2nd floor of the LCC in Room 2P20. I believe some of your fathers cables and equipment were hanging on our wall, Abandoned in Place.

      • Hi Rotor
        I guess that the switcher room was 2P20. I wasn’t allowed in the LCC much as I was not a shuttle contractor, just a base operations contractor. I also don’t know when they updated the old analog switchers to more modern digital ones (long after my dad was gone in 1980). However, I remember seeing places where a bunch of the old stuff was still stored around. The EDL was full of that stuff when I got there in 1987. The EDL was called something else back in Apollo days. It’s where the astronauts practiced with the lunar rover out back.

  7. The first toy I remember was a metal Friendship 7 spacecraft with a friction motor. You rolled it backwards and the friction motor pushed if forwards. In first grade, I brought my toy astronauts in for show-and-tell… all the time. I was in 4th grade when the Apollo 1 fire happened… And 1969 will always be my favorite year (I’m a NT Jets and NY Mets fan). Someone once said, “They’ll put a man on the Moon before the Mets ever win a World Series”… And they did. And I still remember Joe Namath walking off the field making the #1 gesture, the fuzzy image of Neil Armstrong coming down the ladder, and Cleon Jones dropping to one knee after catching a fly ball to end game five of the Mets 4-1 series victory over the Orioles.

    I voraciously followed the space program from my earliest memories though the Space Shuttle program. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the radio broadcast of the Challenger disaster, just like 9/11. I heard the Columbia explosion, or at least the sonic boom as the debris flew over Dallas. I still get a knot in my stomach.

    Personal connections…

    My Dad’s cousin, R. Adm. Roderick O. Middleton commanded the task force that recovered Astronaut John Glenn and the Friendship 7 spacecraft. He then went on to manage the Apollo prorgam from 1967-1969.

    From: The New York Times 20 July 1967

    CAPE KENNEDY, Fla., July 18 (AP) – The admiral who headed a destroyer fleet that recovered Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., the astronaut in 1962 was named today to be Apollo program manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kennedy Space Center here. Rear Adm. Roderick O. Middleton, now of NASA’s Office of Manned Space Flight in Washington, will fill a vacancy created last May when Maj. Gen. John G. Shinkle resigned as Apollo program manager.


    I have had the privilege of meeting Harrison “Jack” Schmitt at the 2011 AAPG convention and USGS Director James Reilly and I worked together at Enserch Exploration in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, before Dr. Reilly was accepted by NASA as a mission specialist for the Space Shuttle program.

    • One of the best toys we got for Christmas was a GI Joe Mercury Capsule and a GI Joe with a Space Suit that could sit in the capsule. We also had a Revell Model Gemini Space Capsule which we painted and put together. A neighbor had an Estes Saturn V model rocket he put together (at 1/100 scale it was pretty big, about 43 inches tall); he did a magnificent job of putting it together and painting it but unfortunately, he never flew it as he was afraid it would get damaged in flight or on landing (not an uncommon experience when flying Estes rockets). One of my keepsakes from the Apollo 11 flight is a book called “We Came In Peace” which was given out by the Gulf Gas Stations shortly after Apollo 11; it has the Gulf log on the back cover.

      • I had the GI Joe capsul too! I think it came with a 45 rpm record of the actual communications with Mission Control.

  8. “…even claims that we never got there.”
    IMO, the most compelling evidence/verification is that the Soviets quietly ignored it.

    • From Fast Company…

      “If the United States had been faking the Moon landings, one group would not have been in on the conspiracy: The Soviets.

      The Soviet Union would have revealed any fraud in the blink of an eye, and not just without hesitation, but with joy and satisfaction.

      In fact, the Russians did just the opposite. The Soviet Union was one of the few places on Earth (along with China and North Korea) where ordinary people couldn’t watch the landing of Apollo 11 and the Moon walk in real time. It was real enough for the Russians that they didn’t let their own people see it.

      That’s all the proof you need. If the Moon landings had been faked—indeed, if any part of them had been made up, or even exaggerated—the Soviets would have told the world. They were watching. Right to the end, they had their own ambitions to be first to the Moon, in the only way they could muster at that point.

      And that’s a kind of proof that the conspiracy-meisters cannot wriggle around.”


      Then there’s the Moon rocks, which aren’t meteorite fragments and aren’t from Earth.

      “Finally, we have the proof that the Moon landings actually happened right here on Earth, in the form of Moon rocks. The image on the left is a glass spherule, of which many were found in the 382 kilograms of Moon rocks that were brought back by the Apollo crew.

      Glass spherules are produced two key ways: in explosive volcanic activity and by high-speed meteorite impacts that melt and vaporize rock. In either case, the rock needs time to cool and crystallise slowly. On Earth, the elements quickly break down any volcanically-produced glass. But in space, glass spherules survive nearly pristine, and we’ve found them in both meteorites that have fallen to Earth and in the Moon rocks returned from the Apollo missions, proving that the Apollo crew were indeed space travellers.

      When the first rocks were returned from the Apollo 11 mission, samples were given to 135 different countries around the world as a gesture of good will. These rocks have withstood every possible geology test from labs around the world, and these have confirmed they are indeed of lunar origin.

      No other space mission, manned or unmanned, has been capable of returning such quantities of rock. The Soviet Union’s Luna unmanned programme did bring back some rocks in the 1970s, but only a third of one kilogram. These rocks have been shared with international scientists and match the characteristics of the Apollo Moon rocks.”


      Then there’s the recent high-resolution imagery of the landing sites…

      And the fact that the Apollo astronauts who traveled to the Moon and back were adversely affected by radiation.


      • I made a bet with a guy who said there were no footprints from the landings on the Moon. Those pictures indicate that I won my bet. It’s too bad that the guy will never admit that those pictures prove he is wrong.


      • David Middleton

        All iron clad evidence and yet they bray.

        All the evidence I need is hanging on the wall of my den. It is a paper strip chart of Buzz Aldrin’s vital signs as he stepped on the moon.
        It was given to me by my Dad who was a Telemetry Manager in the Apollo program. He knew and all the hundreds of telemetry troops knew where there antennas were pointing when they recorded their data, they were pointed at the Moon.

        • All the evidence I need was a grainy black and white TV image in the summer of 1969.

      • My best evidence is seeing apollo 9 or 10 firing their rocket to leave earth orbit. The rocket exhaust covered half the sky, near Townsville, North Queensland.

  9. From the article: “(Gene Shoemaker was supposed to be an astronaut. Some of his ashes did reach the moon and helped form a new crater.)”

    There is a really good picture in the July 2019, issue of Astronomy magazine of Gene wearing a spacesuit in 1964. Gene looks like he belongs on the cover of an early science fiction magazine in that picture!

    Gene intended to be an astronaut but a physical condition ultimately prevented him from doing so, but he made his mark in a number of different areas even so.

    • Gene’s health issue was thyroid insufficiency, he was one of the first people treated for that with almost instantaneous results per David Levy’s “Shoemaker by Levy”. https://www.amazon.com/Shoemaker-Levy-Man-Made-Impact/dp/0691002258/ref=sr_1_1

      It’s virtually impossible to overstate his contributions to solar system geology and influence on the many geology students he helped train (he was one of my brother’s thesis advisers).

      Gene was killed and his wife injured in a two-vehicle crash in the Australian outback. There wasn’t much time to arrange it, but one of his past students and planetary scientist Carolyn Porco carried through her idea to send some of his cremated remains to the moon on the Lunar Prospector mission.


  10. I knew whatever network I had on, there would be a talking head in the studio to “help” explain it to the unprepared, so I suggested we watch CBS and Walter Cronkite, figuring that he was the least likely head to say something ridiculous at a key moment.

    You made a bad choice. I picked NBC because prior to the critical points (PDI to touchdown and during most of the EVA) the NBC crew made an announcement that they were going to shut up and just let the viewers listen and dream — and they did. We got to hear the landing and most of the EVA with absolutely NO reporter idiot commentary. It was great compared to all the reruns of Walter I’ve seen since. An interesting side note, for years I had said that Buzz was slighted, the the first words ever spoken on the Moon were not Neil’s “…The Eagle has landed.” but Buzz’ post landing checklist callouts. A few years ago I had the good luck to be the engineer on a radio interview Buzz gave to plug his book and asked the host to ask him about that. Turns out we almost missed that drama of the landing because NASA decided very late on during training to have the crew use VOX rather than PTT on the radio. Had that original decision to not use hot mics in VOX remained we would have heard mostly dead air during the landing until Armstrong keyed up for his quote. That would have been horrible.

    • You of course know, that full-duplex circuits were used for those comms? And the Unified S-band (USB) full duplex (uplink/downlink) tx/rx system performed tracking, telemetry and communication (via a multiplexed signal scheme) and could keep voice channels ‘live’ at all times via dedicated multiplexed sub-carriers? So the VOX feature was more of a “mute” function than a *standard* transmit enable (or command) “keying line (or wire)” function.

      Previous space shot/capsule (like Gemini) comm systems used individual transmitters and receiver for voice and data (telemetry) and VOX vs PTT meant a difference in the actual ‘mode’ a radio was operated in.

      Period piece, a technical paper on the Unified S-band (USB) system which was specially designed for Apollo and the moon mission.

      Quick tour:

      • Yes, I knew that, Jim. But the point is that the switch in the LM was labeled VOX/PTT and the complexity of the S-band system was transparent to the crew, who simply put the switch where they were told and flew the spacecraft and the voice link worked just like they were used to from earlier spacecraft and aircraft. On a side note, several electronic and ham radio magazines of the day published plans for both S-band and UHF receivers that tuned the Apollo frequencies for amateurs who wanted to try to receive the RF directly from the Moon, although I seriously doubt any hobbyists of that time had the equipment to demodulate the S-band sub-carriers.

        • I listened to the back and forth between crew and mission-control on a SW radio in central Queensland under an old canvas tent in the early hours of the morning, camping out on a hunting trip. No light, no talking, just a still dark night and the family listening to this amazing chatter with the beeps in it. People were really doing those things out there as we listened. A quarter of a million miles away and could hear the whole thing clear as a bell, way out in the bush.

    • My dad picked a video channel to watch on the TV and then turned the TV sound off and we listened to one of the local Cocoa Beach radio stations for sound. My dad never had much interest in the talking heads. He thought it was hilarious when Crankcase’s trailer almost blew apart during a launch 🙂

  11. I would rather live in a world characterised by the kind of technological vision, determination and courage that it took to achieve the Moon landings, than the patronising, elitist and dishonest world we live in today. Watching the coverage, it brought together people of all classes, cultures and nationalities in a shared experience of the achievement, and shared pride to be part of the human race.

    • But CAGW is an extensional threat to humanity! Man has no ability to respond to climate threats! Technology is dead (w/o renewables)!

  12. It was a stupendous achievement, one aspect that is forgotten is the morale boost it was for what in those days was called the Free World.
    The tone was set in my mind when I was taken to see Destination Moon in ’50 or ’51 and the space adventure comic books along with the Cold War atmosphere of the ’50s.
    The Soviets looked like winning the Space Race by successfully launching Sputniks in ’57 and Yuri Gagarin in ’61, followed by the Cuban Crisis in ’62, the assassination of J F Kennedy, and then Vietnam.
    They were turbulent times but from the moon landing on it appeared that the Soviets had conceded and the international atmosphere calmed down.

      • The Soviets were still working on a lunar landing after Apollo 11, but soon decided it was better propaganda to pretend they’d never even tried to compete and it had all been a waste of money by America.

        Plus their rockets kept blowing up, though that was not unexpected in Soviet rocket development. They could probably have put a man on the Moon by the mid-70s if they’d wanted to… but that would have looked like a failure in their eyes.

  13. The biggest problem to fake was the Moon dust. Fine dust that sticks together without forming dust clouds when kicked or disturbed. It must be in a vacuum or near vacuum. The Moon buggy threw up dust from its wheels and no dusty clouds. The dust blobs flew in perfect parabolic paths, too. The technology to create studio-sized vacuum chambers on the Earth still doesn’t exist–it would be easier to just go to the Moon.


    • Jim Masterson
      July 13, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Yes, very good point Jim.

      The trajectory of the buggy’s dust is the absolute killer to all who believe in the hoax nonsense. Especially the shots of the last buggy from Apollo 17 doing high speed passes…the front wheels are off the ground with the dust pouring straight down; the rear wheels are skidding a bit and show the parabola you mention. They could not fake that particular trajectory anywhere except where you have 1/6 Earth’s gravity; not on the ISS, not in Hollywood, not on Mars. Much of the dust was the size of talcum powder or flour but just comes straight down off the wheels; no clouds of dust anywhere.

      After the Fox hoax film came out on TV I wrote to Armstrong stating my thoughts on the dust. He of course agreed and added that when they walked on the Moon that the dust:

      “…fanned out like petals of a flower with no residual dust.”

      He added that the most offensive part of the film was “the implication that NASA had murdered the Apollo 1 crew.”

      We run stargazing tours here in NZ (www.stargazersbb.com) and about 30% of our guests believe the landings were faked…even guys my age (69) who were around at the time (you can perhaps understand the youngsters being skeptical I guess). So I spend quite a bit of time with them explaining with models and photos just what happened…fortunately most leave with their opinions changed.

      • re: “The trajectory of the buggy’s dust is the absolute killer to all who believe in the hoax nonsense. ”

        I would have thought the testimony of the guys with the big university radio telescopes who monitored the comms from the moon would suffice, or, the amateur radio operator who received the back-pack radio signals (yes, in the 297 MHz range IIRC) from the astronauts during a moonwalk with an antenna and receiving equipment he put together to do just that.

        But hey – I’m a RADIO guy not a ‘rock doc’ (or physicist) …

        • eply

          July 13, 2019 at 7:58 pm

          That’s interesting Jim, I hadn’t heard about that one…he must have had a big antenna! But what an achievement! But then, we all know that he was just paid by NASA to say that he got a signal.

  14. Absolutely – everyone was glued to the TV that day.
    The moon landing was around 11 am that day, the moon walk was approximately 2 hours later.

    I was in 7th grade that year. We toilet papered the house next door between the moon landing and the moon walk. Nary a soul was outside to catch in broad daylight TP ‘ing the house next door. The parents didnt even catch us.

  15. One of the Arizona-parking-lot “evidences” I saw was a claim that there was not much lead-up to the moon landing. I was a schoolkid during the Geminis, etc, and several times, teachers brought TVs into the classroom so we could watch a launch live. “Pay attention,” we were told. “this is historic–you’re going to tell your children and grandchildren about it.” We shouted in unison: 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1! 0! Ignition!
    I still use that when I am counting down for something.
    Then they landed on the moon on my birthday, 17 years old. First thing they were supposed to do was SLEEP!! Are you kidding me? They have just landed on the MOON and they are supposed to SLEEP?!?! So they walked around on the moon on my birthday, too.

    I had a boyfriend who was a geologist. He showed me his lab with pretty crystals under the same microscopes you see in biology classes. He proudly told me his lab was among those chosen to analyze the moon rocks. Yeah, right–the whole thing was a hoax and there were rocks to analyze. uh huh. /sarc.

    Years later, I learned another story: the Native American Indians had stories about the time of healing of Mankind’s insanities. They could tell when that time was here when there was a White Buffalo (there has been at least one) and an eagle would fly to the moon and return. There were Amerindians in Mission Control for Apollo 11. I understand the got very emotional on hearing that famous line: “The Eagle has landed.”

    And one more thing you’ll love: Buzz Aldrin wrote a novel with John Barnes named “The Return.” 2000, Tom Dougherty & Associates, LLC, New York. Very exciting story–you’re gonna love it!

    • My lead engineer was on the LEM crew at Huston. He explained the difficulty in the instrumentation of the fuel quantity of the LEM fuel tank–essentially impossible. He tracked the fuel quantity by other means. So when one of the LEMs (I don’t remember which) tried to land on a large boulder, they asked if there was enough fuel to find another landing spot. My lead had a split second to respond–he said there was enough. Otherwise the landing would have to be aborted. Fake landing–yeah right!


      • Jim Masterson
        July 13, 2019 at 8:08 pm

        Do you remember why it was so difficult? And how did they work around this?

        • Yes. The fuel, when weightless, adheres to the inside of the tank–all around with vapor bubbles in the middle. You could measure the fuel level better when the rocket engine was firing–the fuel then lies on the side opposite the acceleration. In many airplanes, they use a capacitance probe to determine the fuel level–but that assumes gravity is vertical. When g forces are not vertical, those capacitance probes are useless. I’m not sure what instrumentation was used in the LEM–he said it wasn’t reliable. I think he just timed the engine firing and knew how long it would remain firing.


  16. Ric Werme,
    Thank you so much for this! I too am a child of our toddling efforts to survive, adapt, and thrive in ‘outer’ space. “The Eagle has Landed….” still sends chills down my spine! With a newly minted BS & MS in Metallurgical Engineering in 1986, I went to work for McDonnell Douglas Astronautics in St. Louis MO, because I wanted a career in space and aerospace applications. NASP was like being a kid in a candy store, for this metal head! After 30 years of wonderful challenges too long to list here, I never regretted my career choice!

  17. 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – It’s Yesterday Once More

    Sorry, I could resist: Carpenter, “Yesterday Once More”

    • The Carpenters released this in 1973. Sadly, after Apollo 17, so it’s not as timely as I’d like. However, I’ve spent much of the last week or so in my own Yesterday Once More reviewing everything that has gone into this post. The song’s title made it into my title and wouldn’t leave!

      And I’ve listened to this song at least three times today….

  18. Shortly after I graduated from high school, during my Army physical I found out that I had a hernia that needed to be repaired. A few days later I went in for surgery so I watched the moon landing from a hospital bed, but I can’t remember if it was the day before or the day after the surgery.

  19. Ric Werme

    I too grew up in the Space Program. In 3rd grade at Cocoa Beach Elementary the whole school got out of school and walked to the beach to watch Alan Shepard’s launch. Great stuff for an eight year old kid.

  20. I remember my aunt, a very religious woman, visiting us during the approach. I was watching some network channel and she asked what I was doing. I explained they were headed for the moon.

    She looked at me intently and stated “I don’t think they will get there. “.
    “Why?” I asked.
    She said” I don’t believe the Lord will let them”.

    Proof positive it was a hoax. (wink,wink).


    US government plaque left on Moon: “We came in peace for all mankind.”

  22. My space program memories:
    1. “We Seven” – the stories of the original Mercury astronauts in their own words (although probably ghost-written in part).
    2. Home sick from school on the day of John Glenn’s orbital flight.
    3. Building replica models from scratch of the early launch vehicles, especially the Atlas. And getting into model rocketry with those cool Estes engines.

    • My Estes rocket was modeled after the Apollo capsule. The engine was mounted up inside the cone and left an impressive smoke trail behind.
      Unlike most, it didn’t have a parachute. The charge that would deploy the chute on other rockets would instead eject the engine which was attached to the cone by an elastic band. The cone itself would then act as the parachute.
      On it’s last flight the band broke and it hit the street nose first.

  23. I’m pretty sure I was Revell’s best customer for space craft models. I’m also pretty sure I got brain damage from all the glue I used to put them together

  24. Looks like July 20, 1969 was a Sunday. I am quite sure I was visiting relatives and took a picture of the TV. Now to find the pictures.

    When Apollo 13 made a successful return and landed in the Ocean, I finished an early shift at noon. I got in my car and headed for a department store and parked myself in front of the best color TV to watch the splashdown and rescue.

  25. “Unlike the Apollo missions, the Curiosity mission controllers had no control over the landing process. ”

    Just a note that Apollo mission control was largely a spectator during the landing. All they could do was monitor systems and send advice. Tis was a 1.25 second time delay on all radio communications.

    So if any problem occurred the only the astronauts could respond immediately. So if nasa saw anything critical the human delay plus the 2 second delay would make it difficult to do anything helpful.

    Just to get video of the launch from the moon required mission control to to send commands to the video camera on rover before the launch occurred

  26. For Americans, reaching the moon provided uplift and respite from the Vietnam War, from strife in the Middle East, from the startling news just a few days earlier (July 18, 1969) that a young woman had drowned in a car driven off a wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island by Sen. Edward Kennedy. The landing occurred as organizers were gearing up for Woodstock, the legendary three-day rock festival on a farm in the Catskills of New York.

  27. From Ric Werme’s article, ” if you’re bent out of shape over the lack of stars in the moon photos, include proof that you photograph stars successfully”

    Hehe, one thing that is pretty amazing is how good our eyes naturally are at adapting to different light levels, so the unsophisticated conspiracy theorists just assume that still cameras and video cameras will do the same, I guess! If I am looking at a full moon at night here on earth, I can look off to the side just a little ways, and my eyes will pick out stars pretty quickly. Try that with a camera, just try getting the moon and stars in the same shot without the bright moon “burning a hole” in your exposure! Mostly, with short exposure times, cameras aren’t going to pick up the stars at all, no reason to see them in astronaut videos.

  28. A very good friend of mine (now deceased) ran the real time data collection for the wind tunnel which was used to design the chutes for the Apollo program capsule. He wrote the interrupt driven code in Fortran and I believe it ran on an IBM 360, which was another first. He later went on and wrote one of the LISP variants.

  29. I was 9 years old in 1969 , and now vaguely recall watching the event on a 20′ black and white TV. I have but one quibble with what has been written , moon glass could have been created by powerful solar flares , and some claim Giant bolts of lightning . The mission was named Apollo , I believe because the moon has been a source of inspiration for music, poetry and prophecy , as had Apollo , and in later poetry , associated with the Sun . I know it sounds conspiratorial , but the only reasons I can think of for not having returned to the moon ( even if an unmanned probe , perhaps it has happened ), is they found what they were looking for, and terrified of it’s implications,and wishing to not create mass hysteria , thought it best to leave dead dogs lying , or, perhaps it was, to some small but significant degree , a hoax . Or perhaps something else. Additional up close photographs , and video of the lunar surface as viewed on the Apollo missions , have not occurred .Not to mention additional investigations and analysis of the non uniform lunar surface . Ostensibly , given the Martian missions , we’ve had the capability to do so for years . What’s on the dark side of the moon ? Does not the moon have mysteries worth pursuing which , imprints of past events leading to a better understanding of our history , and place in this Universe? I am very SUSPICIOUS .

  30. I wish someone could explain me these, please:

    – The astronauts spent many days inside a “thermos bottle” in direct sunlight (200 degC) and the only way to cool down was to radiate the heat away. How did they do it?

    – In an early phase of the Apollo project it was calculated that the wall of the capsule needed to have a mass of 1000 kg per m2 to avoid damage to the human life from the Van Allen belt radiation. Finally they used only a thin aluminium wall and some aluminium foil in the space suits. Extremely risky, in my opinion.

    – How do you steer/stabilize/control the capsule in a vacuum? If the pilot sits on his seat and inclines to the left on his buttocks (eg. in order to release a fart inside his space suit) the center of the mass of the whole capsule changes and the steering thrust may cause an uncontrolled spin that sends the vessel into a crashing course to the moon or an eternal course towards the stars. In Youtube there is a video of Armstrong trying to test drive a space module on earth one year before the launch but he crashed it even it should have been easier to maneuver in an atmosphere.

    – You cannot leave a footprint with clear edges on the moon surface because there is no humidity. Try going to the beach and leave a sharp footprint on a hot dry sand.

    …And there are at least two hundred more details that don’t fit the official narrative. You can easily find investigative videos on this subject on the web, the problem is that they are normally done by people supporting the flat earth hypothesis which scares the sane people away. However, the above mentioned questions are still valid to me and I have tried to keep an open mind.

    • Pasi, you must lead a very dull life. I’m reminded of: 1) A bee can’t fly; and 2) Galileo, on his deathbed: “But it moves.”

      The moon landings happened. All the imaginative questions can’t change those facts.

    • I don’t have the time or patience to nuke all of these right now…

      – In an early phase of the Apollo project it was calculated that the wall of the capsule needed to have a mass of 1000 kg per m2 to avoid damage to the human life from the Van Allen belt radiation. Finally they used only a thin aluminium wall and some aluminium foil in the space suits. Extremely risky, in my opinion.

      Firstly, the astronauts who traveled to the Moon and back were exposed to high levels of radiation. The radiation exposure subsequently led to an elevated level of heart disease in the lunar astronauts relative to who flew only orbital missions.

      The Apollo astronauts — the first men to land on the moon — took a giant leap for mankind. But the deep space radiation that dosed the men who left the Earth’s orbit may have damaged their hearts, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science.

      The number of deaths due to heart disease among the Apollo lunar astronauts is almost five times greater than that in non-flight astronauts, or astronauts who never flew missions in space, researchers from Florida State University found. Compared to astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO), the heart risk among Apollo astronauts is four times higher. There were no differences between LEO and non-flight astronauts.


      However, the aluminum skin and instrumentation inside the Command Module provided adequate protection because their trajectory took them through the weakest parts of the Van Allen Belts and their velocity allowed them to transit the zone quickly.


    • >>
      – You cannot leave a footprint with clear edges on the moon surface because there is no humidity. Try going to the beach and leave a sharp footprint on a hot dry sand.

      Sand is the wrong grain size. Try this: spread flour over your floor to about two inches thick. Then remove all the air in the room. Now try walking across the floor and see how sharp the footprint edges are.


    • Mr. Layman here. (In other words, I’m no expert.)

      200*C? That’s about 400*F. When I was a kid (when the landings happened) my parents oven had a “Broil” feature. It got hot. Even when it wasn’t on broil it could go over 500*F. I’m not sure what kind of insulation it had or how much it cost but our house did not burn down.
      (PS The Sun only shown on one side at a time. I don’t know if they did it or not but simply rotating the capsule would dissipated the heat.)

      Radiation? Guess they learned more after those early guesstimates.

      How much effect world shifting their weight have on the capsule when they are weightless?

      The surface of the Moon is not made of beach sand. At work I’ve had occasion to walk across fine powders. My footprints left clear edges that remained with clear edges a week or so later. (Unless someone swept the area.)

      Again, I’m no expert but these are a few possible answers/things to ponder in response.

    • I wish someone could explain me these, please:

      Why can’t you answer the questions yourself? I learned long ago that often leads to better questions, better learning, and better knowledge in the long run.

      a “thermos bottle” in direct sunlight (200 degC)

      Light doesn’t have a temperature. Of course, sunlight can heat the surface of a spacecraft, energy use inside the craft has to be dumped too. I’m sure you recall that the space shuttle bay doors were opened soon after reaching orbit as they were cooling radiators. You may not recall that the Apollo Command module did spin (slowly) to reduce the temperature differential. See https://www.quora.com/Did-the-Command-Service-Modules-spin-on-the-Apollo-lunar-missions-or-were-they-mostly-continuously-stable-and-not-spinning for some details. It was well described in print and TV in the Apollo Era.

      How do you steer/stabilize/control the capsule in a vacuum?

      Keep in mind that both angular momentum and angular momentum is conserved. The two main control schemes are attitude control thrusters and gyroscopes. Gyroscopes can be powered by PV panels more or less indefinitely. Thrusters use reaction mass, so you really don’t want to use them. They are good in asymmetric environments where solar wind is spinning up the satellite and the gyros have to spin faster and faster.

      There’s really very little an astronaut can do inside a space craft to change course. He can change the craft’s orientation, but not its rate of spin.

      And there are at least two hundred more details that don’t fit the official narrative.

      And how many have you researched? Do you photograph stars successfully?

      • Mr. Werme and others: First of all, I want to express my tremendous respect for this blog and all the very talented persons that contribute to it based on more than 10 years I have been following it. I know this is not the forum to debate these conspiracy theories and it gets me easily banned but I just wanted to leave this for the record.

        For me, the moon landing belongs to the same category as 9/11: Fire in the Twin Towers makes steel structure, glass, office furniture, toilet seats etc. turn into powder, pancakes Building 7 and creates a crater through Building 6. *It Just Doesn’t Make Sense*. I am convinced that with Trump we are going to see great development in catching the real criminals and also taking down the terribly corrupted NASA, among others.

        Temperature: Space is not cold, but it is just a perfect insulator. It is much worse out there than in a car on a parking lot on a sunny day. Rotating the car does not help, it is still bloody (deadly) hot.

        Navigation: You do need manual control – in my opinion, all of the time – but latest when the Lunar Module leaves the Moon surface (strangely without leaving a dust cloud and a crater and with a camera man left on the ground following the trajectory) in order to dock with the Command Module 100 km above. Extremely risky / suicide mission.

        Radiation: The least risky place to leave the Earth to avoid Van Allen belt is from the poles (did not happen). In any case, as a responsible for the mission, I would have not sent my men exposed to any sudden EMPs from the sun, too risky/suicidal.

        Footprints on the surface: I still cannot imagine any physical force responsible for keeping the dust particles attached to each other on the moon. On earth there are water molecules creating a bond between flour or fine sand grains but on the Moon there is no water. It should be all fluffy and volatile! Static electricity comes to my mind but in that case the sand should stick to the sole and leave an imperfect footprint.

        • A few notes – you won’t accept them, perhaps they’ll get you to experiment.

          Temperature: this is related to kinetic energy of atoms moving in a confined space. A vacuum has no atoms. A light beam has no atoms. Space is cold thanks to the 3K background radiation from a very low density gas left over from the Big Bang.. White/reflective objects retard both heat gain from sunlight and heat loss due to black body radiation from the object. That’s one reason why there’s a lot of white and reflective metal on Apollo. And a big life support box on the astronauts’ back. And the space shuttle, and ISS, etc.

          Navigation: Spacecraft moving at circular orbit speeds or at escape velocity (41.4%) faster pretty much require computers to get the timing right, especially if you can’t afford to bring a long a lot more fuel. I learned far more about orbital dynamics playing CMU’s version of SpaceWar! than I ever did from books and math, it’s worth finding an emulator or writing one. BTW, one trick I figured out is what’s used for rendevous with the ISS – enter an orbit in the same plane, but with a somewhat lower altitude. An orbit is faster (because gravity is stronger, you need greater speed), and it’s less distance, so you catch up with the ISS, and when you do, it’s fairly easy to rendezvous.

          Of course it was risky. So was firing the command module’s rocket to leave lunar orbit. And that had to be done incommunicado with Earth from the far side of the moon due to no relay satellite that could see both the command module and Earth.

          The LM made for a launch platform – reaction gases were forced sideways and not much reached the ground, though Aldrin reported the US flag was blown over. The low mass of the LM and low acceleration allowed (demanded!) relatively low thrust and hence reaction mass velocity.

          Avoiding the van Allen belt by leaving from the poles means forgoing the 800? mph boost we get from launching at Cape Canaveral (circumference of the Earth divided by the length of the sidereal day times cos(latitude of launch point). It also means burning fuel to make a 90 degree turn, possibly after reaching escape velocity.

          I said “make it good” in the post. A lot of orbital mechanics is just high school math and physics and is surprisingly easy to learn if you did okay with “statics and dynamics.” However, you haven’t made it good, you haven’t even tried.

    • One thing you might not remember to look into in your research is the Skylab space station I mentioned above. It had an area that allowed for much better play with conservation of momenta and kinetic energy than any other space station offered to date. Well, except for the spaceship in 2001 – A Space Odyssey.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1sr6aVzW9M – one of the comments says

      Alan Bean took gymnastics while studying at University of Texas, Austin. It sure came in handy!!

      I never knew that, I’ve long wondered where he learned those moves.

    • Re: Footprints

      Making clear footprints in dry sand may seam difficult. Still, I tried in some filtered and fine dry clay, and to my surprise, the footprint came out pretty clear.

      What you should look at is how to brake from 11 km/s after a freefall from 300,000 km, calculate the kinetic energy and see if you can make any physical sense of the numbers and values. They don’t – you should reach some impossible numbers there. No one talks about these basic calculations on how to brake for one or another reason.

      Also really peculiar is the fuel calculations. Impossible to find any credible numbers, and the numbers you find are all over the place. Almost as if they have applied Hollywood physics in these operations!

  31. So did we land on the moon or not? Most of us need you all to tell us what to think. Pls help.

    [Yes, we landed on the moon and left – six times. – Ric]

    • Sure we did.
      Where do think we got all that “Tang”?
      You can’t find it store shelves anymore because we stopped going back. 😎

    • Thanks Ric. You encouraged me to review the two-body solution again. I understand it more each time I go over it. It’s basically the same sequence used by Newton–although modern vector notation wasn’t known to him. It was amazing that he was able to solve the problem. He even had to invent the laws of motion, the law of gravitation, integral and differential calculus, and even the iterative method for solving Kepler’s equation in order to solve the two-body problem.


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