Well, here we are July 20, 2019 celebrating “one of the most defining moments in human history,” man’s greatest adventure, the dawning of a centuries-old dream…blah, blah, etc. And “NASA has gone all-out for the occasion.” What rubbish on stilts! Yet most Americans still seem to buy into the Apollo myth–hook, line and sinker. Certainly the corporate media do, with nary a word of doubt allowed that have I seen, dissent apparently restricted to ‘off-the-reservation’ types like yours truly, just another wacko conspiracy theorist.
But you might think that nearly a half century without any travel by humans into deep space following the (incredibly successful!) Apollo missions would fan skepticism about humans strolling around on another celestial body with 1960’s technology. Like, maybe it didn’t happen? Was our real advantage show biz faking the moon missions? If NASA could not make it, did they fake it? Or did we, the exceptional nation, really beat the USSR at the “space race.” The USA won, right?
If so, why were the moon landing(s) the first major technological breakthrough in history with no follow up and zero progress toward human travel in deep space since? Despite all the tech advances since the 1960s? Hard to believe. Today, all we have for space travel is a few governments putting people into low earth orbit where they are nicely protected from deadly radiation by the Van Allen belts and our atmosphere, just like we earthlings are every day. To put it another way, the Apollo missions allegedly sent astronauts on 240,000-mile journeys to the moon and then back to earth, safely, and yet technology today limits us to 250 miles up and 250 miles down. Amazing!
One feature of the celebration of our greatness is the movie “Apollo 11” produced and directed by Todd Douglas Miller and released in March this year (thanks to JH for the tip). It seems to be based almost entirely on NASA footage and is worth watching for $5.99, even though it’s packaged propaganda (spreading ideas to further a cause) and its backers include CNN Films. Here are some things I noted as I watched the 1 hour 33 minute production only once:
- Great shots of the big tractor and related hardware moving the rocket to the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.
- The most trusted man in America–Walter Cronkite–narrates with his marvelous voice.
- A klinker in Cronkite’s description is his reference to the “cold of space.” Temperature extremes yes, but I never did get that claim since “when sunlight hits the moon’s surface, the temperature can reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius)” and “when the sun goes down, temperatures can dip to minus 280 F (minus 173 C).”
- At one point there is a 1-2 second clip of a jet-powered LM simulator pilots used to practice a rocket landing on the moon, and on one ride Neil Armstrong barely ejected in time to escape death. No one, of course, had landed a LM with its descent and ascent rockets prior to the triumphant moon landing and take off by Apollo 11.
- Lots of footage of showtime in Florida on July 16 with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins in space suits waving at cameras, a shot of Nazi rocketeer Werner von Braun, elevator ride up, intercom chat, hatch closing, etc.
- The crowd of spectators, food vendors, J.C. Penny store in background, a mobbed parking lot, can of Busch beer.
- An ignition sequence, then supposedly “6.7 million lbs. of thrust pushing upward,” I could only see three thrusters firing though five (engine type disputed) fired, followed by slow motion take off, what seemed like mild applause in the background, attaining 4,000 ft/sec (was a camera in parallel flight or was that a simulation?), then accelerating to 23,000 ft/sec.
- Two orbits of earth claimed and then a “burn for the moon” accelerating to 22,000 mph and you’re “well on your way now…”
- Next the transposition and docking maneuver explained here. Holy moly! Separation (“undocking”) of the command and service module some 5,300 miles away from earth, fairings around the Lunar Module exploding away, then turning the command module 180 degrees via delicate, repeated short rocket thrusts, hard docking with the lunar module, and finally separation from the S-IVB stack. So the “Eagle” is finally exposed at the front of the command module. I wonder why this packaging design relied on so much maneuvering in outer space? Got me.
- We get a few looks out a command module window at planet earth. Looks fake, and it is, as discovered by Bart Sibrel’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xciCJfbTvE4&t=1069s) in NASA footage mistakenly released to him. It was trick photography to make low-earth photography resemble long distance shots in transit thousands of miles from earth.
- The claim that the lunar sphere of influence is 186,000 miles from earth is offered. True or false, I have no idea, but on a manned mission to the moon it would be crucial to know in order to insert into lunar orbit. Our understanding of gravity is disputed (https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Moon-Pari-Spolter/dp/0963810782/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=pari+spolter&qid=1563565078&s=books&sr=1-1).
- So the command module orbits the moon at some 4,000 mph and the LM undocks (simulation video?) and burns for a lunar landing, a wholly new, unpracticed event.
- Amazingly, the Eagle lands smoothly without any rocket noise, vibration or harshness. Impossible. The lunar surface looks fake, at least to me. The apparent artificial lighting instead of sunlight has received plenty of attention by critics.
- Clumped footprints show in abundance but how can that happen without moisture? And there is no trace of a rocket-blasted crater beneath the LM nor dirt or dust on the LM lander’s feet.
- But thank goodness we have that famous Buzz/Neil photo in the movie.
- Outside the LM we have 2:45 time spent in life-support suits made by Playtex without any radiation protection. And how good was insulation against the temperature extremes of the moon? Boiling temperatures were offset by air-conditioned suits powered by batteries? Uh-huh.
- Next comes the lunar liftoff which requires separation of the LM and its ascent motor from the descent motor and its LM attachment structure. Then rendezvous with the command module which is real “rocket science” with such primitive computers. But chase down Michael Collins going 4k mph and dock–it was a smooth operation and no problem! Reunited!
- Everything continues to work and then there is a burn for the earth, attaining 5,000+ mph and shutdown.
- Collins shown razor shaving?!
- Some country music and the USS Hornet is the recovery ship, “Oh mother country, I do love you.”
- Did I understand a voice claiming re-entry at 215 miles altitude at a velocity of 26,000 mph?
- A camera inside the capsule shows plenty of heat on re-entry.
- Amid this sequence we see a typewriter in use! Maybe the film should have added a couple of slide rules too, thereby promoting the right techie ambiance.
- Parachutes deploy–applause.
- Our trustworthy leaders Nixon and Kissinger clap aboard the Hornet.
- The three astronauts appear in isolation suits and stay awhile in an isolation chamber, more proof they really went to the moon and returned safely.
- Praise for the “giant rocket 300′ tall” built with “greater precision than the finest watch.” Uh-huh, sure.
- Walter Cronkite soothingly narrates the film’s end, we see two seconds of the desultory press conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI_ZehPOMwI the three astronauts conducted, and finishes with gratitude expressed to the many thousands who contributed to man’s greatest accomplishment.
And why can’t we go again, if only as a step to the promised Mars mission? “NASA wants to put people back on the lunar surface in 2024, but it doesn’t have the budget.” So it’s only a money problem? What about the series of unsolved engineering challenges, beginning with protecting humans from deadly radiation throughout deep space? No, the establishment effectively insists that the Apollo missions proved such problems were overcome once upon a time. And the fairy tale marches on.