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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Apollo 11 anniversary thing! Yay! [20090716|22:19]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[with a hint of |thunder! And Beethoven!]

Hello! I have had two large glasses of wine on an empty stomach at the reception after the "Apollo 11 40 Years On" lectures, aka Spodfest '09. It was fantastic and I gathered up all manner of interesting little facts that I want to work into an outreach talk about manned spaceflight, if I can find an excuse for giving one. Perhaps the inertial guidance system involving accelerometers ("autopilot") will provide me with it? Must ponder.

  • The Saturn V rocket distinctly tilts away from its tower when it's launched. It "yaws" like this on purpose to ensure that it decouples from the five sets of arms holding it in place. Once this is pointed out to you in the launch video, it is rather scary.

  • Werner von Braun, developer of the Saturn V rocket, was not happy that the rocket was tested only twice before people were put into it.

  • The lunar landing module on Apollo 11 didn't decouple from the control & service module properly, thus causing it to overshoot the intended landing site by three miles.

  • When the command module returned to Earth, it was traveling at 11 km/s. At that speed, one could cross London in 5 seconds.

  • It is a commonly held misconception that Teflon and Velcro were developed for the Apollo missions. They were in fact developed years before [I knew this about Teflon, actually]. Apollo simply popularized their use.

  • However, silicon chip technology was in fact a spin-off of Apollo. At one point, half of the chips in production in the US were being used by NASA.

I totally bought the book (NASA Mission AS-506 Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual). And walked into the tube station at Hyde Park with my fellow spodling from our group, waving my arms babbling about the MoonLITE mission and dropping £5 and having it returned to me by a man in a suit who barely refrained from shaking his head indulgently at our nerdy enthusiasm for science.

I love the Moon! I love science! I have to go try and cure my dronk with strawberries and ham sandwiches now! Bye!

[User Picture]From: thalassius
2009-07-17 09:56 (UTC)
I would have loved to come. Unfortunately, I am in the wrong country.

Talk about field geologist astronauts if you do! I think I mentioned this before, but no-one outside geology understands how important they are.
*coughs* Yes, I'm not sure how this relates to autopilots.

Edited at 2009-07-17 09:56 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-20 14:50 (UTC)
Well, spotting the most interesting landing sites is probably something that would be difficult to program an autopilot to do. A human geologist would be a lot more useful for, say, spotting indications of water or ice flow.
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[User Picture]From: danaid_luv
2009-07-17 17:02 (UTC)
I love you for your nerdy enthusiasm, & apparently said businessman does, too.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-20 14:53 (UTC)
D'aw. Thank you!
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-07-18 00:15 (UTC)
While velcro was not developed for the Apollo missions it's use directly contributed to the Apollo 1 disaster (or so I have heard relatively convincingly argued).

See when they decided to have a high oxygen atmosphere in the capsule they realised that this was a risky thing to do and conciously decided to reduce the number of combustible items in the capsule. However the designers didn't tell the people further down the line on this. So by the time they were doing pads tests on Apollo 1 the capsule was heavily lined with velcro and the manuals and suchlike that they attached to the walls. These provided much of the combustible material that ignited when the spark went off and subsequently over-pressurised the inwards opening main hatch.

Chaffe, White, and Grisson were always hereos of mine. But then I always rooted for Scott over Amundsen, I think I like my hereos failing valiantly.
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2009-07-18 00:18 (UTC)
The last comment about Apollo 1 was me, but not logged in. For I am incompetent and very ashamed.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-20 14:54 (UTC)
But full of interesting facts! Thank you for that story. It may prove useful in future outreach talks.
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