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What Happened on the Moon Before Apollo ?

In Rockets, space, Technology, Videos by Paul Shillito2 Comments

The Apollo landings from 1969 to 1972 marked a high point in lunar exploration but Apollo didn’t just rock up on to the moon out of the blue, it took many, many missions by probes and landers over the preceding years to establish if we could send men to the moon and get them back. It’s quite strange to think that even by the late 1950’s, just over 10 years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface we knew surprisingly little about the moon other than what we could observe from the earth and the hypotheses we drew from …

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The New Space Race to the Moon between NASA, SpaceX and Blue Origin

In Rockets, space, Technology, Videos by Paul ShillitoLeave a Comment

Moon missions are becoming a bit like buses, it seems as though you wait the best part of 50 years for a return trip to the moon, then within a matter weeks, two, turn up at once. This is quickly turning into the new space race but this time it’s not between nation states but between private companies as Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon and space company Blue Origin has said that they are looking to set up a base on the moon by the mid-2020’s. This comes within a week or so after Elon Musk releveled SpaceX’s plans to …

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Nasa’s Million Dollar Space Pen vs The Soviet Pencils

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The story of the NASA’s million $ space pen and the soviet pencils has become one of the enduring tales  from the space race which still floats around the internet today and goes a bit like this. During the 1960’s as NASA was sending the first men in the space, they realise that pens don’t work in zero gravity, so they spent years and millions of tax payer dollars to develop one that did. Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, the cosmonauts simply used pencils. The moral of the story to many is that NASA was a wasteful government organisation that would …

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The Biggest Rocket ever Designed? – The Sea Dragon

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In the history of space, one rocket stands out as an icon of not only the space race but of the mighty power it symbolised. That one rocket, which is still the Tallest, heaviest and most powerful ever built, was the Saturn V, which was designed to take men to the moon and later launched the first American Space station, Skylab. But if things had been a little different back in the 60’s we might have had a different rocket to hang on the bedroom walls of the space fans of the 70’s and 80’s. In the early 1960’s, a …

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How did the Apollo flight computers get men to the moon and back ?

In computers, Science, space, Videos by Paul Shillito2 Comments

There is much speculation by some, as to how the flight computer aboard the Apollo missions managed to get men to the moon when it had just a tiny fraction of the computing power of something like a modern smartphone. But this is quite misleading as there was not one solitary computer controlling the Apollo craft, there were 4 computers and no fancy touch screens, GUI’s or other things in a typical computer of today to waste resources on. The first of the 4 computers was the Saturn Launch Vehicle Digital Computer or LVDC, this got the rocket from the …

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What if Apollo had crashed on the Moon ?

In accidents, Science, space, Videos by Paul Shillito2 Comments

For all of the celebrations surrounding the first manned lunar landing of Apollo 11 in 1969, what is forgotten today is just how close they and the other Apollo missions flew to the edge of disaster. Apollo 11 came within seconds of aborting the landing because they had over shot the landing area and were running low on fuel. This was only one of several issues with the Apollo missions that arose that could have led to the loss of the mission and crew, though as it turned out only Apollo 13 came close to this happening. This excludes the …

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Why is the Sun hot ?

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Why is the sun hot?,  now before you jump on the comments and say “because it’s the sun, stupid” think about it, our sun is basically a giant nuclear reactor at the centre of our solar system but not like the ones on earth. They create energy by nuclear fission, that is they split large atoms like uranium into smaller lighter ones and in the process it releases large amount of energy. Atomic bombs also work in the same way which is why they are so destructive. The sun creates its energy by nuclear fusion, the most efficient way to …

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Apollo, the Lunar Dust and NASA’s Dirty Problem

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Sometimes the smallest things can be one of the biggest headaches. During the Apollo missions of 1969 to 72,  the tiny particles of lunar dust turned out to be a major issue. Described as being as fine as talc but as rough as sandpaper, it also has properties that make it dangerous for both men and machines and has been cited as a bigger problem for future astronauts than radiation by some scientists. The lunar surface is covered in a thin layer of dust which has been created by the bombardment of meteorites and micrometeorites over millions of years. These …

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How did Apollo deal with the Van Allen radiation belts ?

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One of the most hotly contested procedures during the Apollo missions was the how NASA dealt with the issue of the Van Allen belts, the naturally occurring belts of radiation that surround the earth, both on the journey to the moon and returning from it. To some this just proves the point that NASA never went to the moon because they contest that if the crew went through the Van Allen belts they would have received a lethal dose of radiation and died during or shortly afterwards but as we know that didn’t happen, so how did they achieve this. …

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Why can’t we see the Apollo lunar landers from Earth ?

In cameras, space, Technology, Videos by Paul Shillito1 Comment

When you look up at a full moon, just remember that somewhere on the lunar face, the remains of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 along with 8 unmanned Russian Luna missions and 5 pre-Apollo unmanned American surveyor missions are all still there….. silently looking back….. unless of course you’re a NASA non-believer. so… why can’t we see these from the earth, why can’t we train our best telescopes on to the moon’s surface and see them there exactly where we left them the best part of 50 years ago. Well, there a bit of a problem…. and …