‘We Have Arrived’ The Marvels of Apollo 10 (Part 3) … — Volkswagen Apollo

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#039;We Have Arrived#039;: The of Apollo 10 (Part 3)

By Ben Evans

controllers anxiously watch the and docking” of lunar module four hours into the 10 mission. Photo Credit:

Four hours after a launch from Cape and an equally rattling ride Trans-Lunar Injection, the crew of 10 were finally on their way to the on the afternoon of 18 May 1969. Their to lunar orbit would the final hurdles before first piloted landing on an world on Apollo 11. Those included astronauts Tom Stafford and Cernan guiding the spider-like module, which they had “Snoopy,” to within nine (15 km) of the surface … and leaving crewmate Young as the first man ever to fly in orbit around the Moon.

before 4 p.m. EDT on 18 May—45 ago today—Young executed his first task of the mission by pulling 10’s command and service “Charlie Brown,” away the spent final stage of the V rocket. He smoothly rotated the by 180 degrees in a so-called “transposition and maneuver to collect Snoopy. By in the mysterious void between and the Moon—known as “cislunar space”—the of the Home Planet had changed In the hours after launch, it a gigantic map, unfolded them, but now, as they toward the Moon, it had shrunk from filling Charlie windows to something the size of a By the time they reached orbit, it appeared little than a marble. “For the and only time in my space Stafford later wrote in his We Have Capture . “I felt .” They were a long way home.

For Cernan, a man born and in the Catholic faith, yet by his own admission an overly religious person,” it everything he thought he knew; out the smallness of Earth, its continents, and its vast ocean trenches dwarfed by the true infinity of the This beautiful, perfect, expanse of nothingness must . he prove the reality of some of Creator, but to comprehend the matter went beyond his mortal “Someone, some being, power, placed our little our Sun and our Moon where they are in the void,” Cernan pondered, the scheme defies any attempt at

There can be few views from orbit more electrifying the sight of “Earthrise,” as our Home rises over the Moon’s Upon this blue and marble resides everything we humans know and understand. Credit: NASA

These were undoubtedly with all men at quiet times throughout voyage, but such were the of a lunar expedition that no one had the to dwell upon them. of infinity came figuratively to Earth by the grind of daily aboard ship. Achieving Kennedy’s challenge was on everyone’s None of the astronauts wanted to up, get sick, or miss a step in the Sickness was a major concern. All men had experienced stuffy heads arriving in space, although the cleared within a few hours for Stafford and Young. For Cernan, it a little longer, but by 20 May he felt


It was a little ironic that 10 was the first American flight in bread— real bread—officially part of the crew’s pantry. that is, because some earlier one member of Stafford’s was reprimanded for taking a corned-beef into space. On the Gemini 3 John Young arranged for the to be sneaked aboard as a surprise for his Gus Grissom. Unfortunately, after a bite, Grissom had been to put it away when it started to and bits began to float the cabin. This problem was in time for Apollo 10: slices of and rye bread were flushed nitrogen, which kept fresh for up to two weeks and prevented from drying out and crumbling fragments.

Drinking, on the other hand, Tom Stafford a rather unpleasant when he forgot to open a to the ship’s water tank and was with an evil-tasting dose of chlorinated water. There other problems, too. The water was a by-product of the hydrogen-oxygen cells, which generated Brown’s electricity, and on previous astronauts had complained about the of hydrogen bubbles in it. A new drinking bag was with a handle that the astronauts to whirl it around and the gas from the water. Unfortunately, it did not and caused the hydrogen bubbles to at the bottom, then remixed the water when they a sip. All three astronauts what NASA euphemistically to as “gas pains,” but they an outbreak of diarrhoea.

Demonstrating the of the Apollo command module, training view of the Apollo 10 reveals the cramped conditions of voyage to the Moon. Photo NASA

Maybe the quality of the water affected the men’s which remained low throughout the To be fair, the food was by no means cuisine . even Don Arabian, of the Apollo Test Division, who described himself as “a human can,” struggled to find appealing in the tasteless sausage and minuscule chicken bits. in May, he volunteered to try Apollo fayre for four days … but three days of chewing with a taste like rubber, he understandably lost the to live! Some foods better than others, of and some could even be quite “normally” with a but the dehydrated dishes needed with water and that injecting an uncomfortable amount of gas into their meals. Not the men ate little during their to the Moon.

Still, with Snoopy to Charlie Brown’s nose, 10 provided a relatively large in which to live and work. For Tom whose two previous Gemini had been like sitting in the seat of a Volkswagen Beetle for on end, it felt almost having an attic or an extra The job of opening up that apartment to Gene Cernan, who floated the tunnel early on 19 May … to be greeted by a of floating fiberglass crumbs! It out that a Mylar cover on the module’s tunnel wall had loose, releasing the cloud of particles, which itched hell, took hours to up, stuck to hair, eyebrows, and and left Cernan looking a hound dog who’d been in a coop.”

The rugged, forbidding landscape, seen from 10. Photo Credit: NASA

By the morning, Apollo 10 was more 240,000 km from Earth and its had slowed to a relatively puny mph (4,000 km/h), as the gravitational of the Home Planet waned. thereafter, it entered the Moon’s of gravitational influence and began to as it “fell” toward its objective. trajectory,” wrote Stafford, been so accurate that of our four mid-course correction had been cancelled.” The only burn of Charlie Brown’s Service Propulsion System engine changed their by barely 33 mph (54 km/h). It was so accurate the last two burns were This also served to the engine for the forthcoming entry lunar orbit.

Eight and a thousand miles (14,000 the Moon, they made a transmission, giving their another view of Earth, by this point had diminished to between a grapefruit and an orange. views gave Stafford a to jab at the British Flat Earth that “the Earth is Perhaps the use of the word “round,” than “spherical,” pre-empted the president’s defiant response: Stafford, it may be round . but it’s flat . like a disk!” Yet the camera was a marvel and gave the audience an unprecedented sense of there.” By the end of the flight, Apollo 10 19 telecasts, spanning almost six and providing such a novel for what was happening in space Stafford, Young, and Cernan a special Emmy award. The was so good that when filmed the transposition and docking Snoopy, viewers could count the tiny metal on the lunar module’s skin. wrote Cernan, “the would get a look at where money was going.”

If the taxpayer knew where money was going, it was not until 10 passed around the limb of the late on the afternoon of 21 May that the finally saw where they going. Until then, goal had been virtually “During the entire mission,” Stafford, “we had been facing its side, which was almost black. Peering through his equipment, John Young had able to find a place in the sky the stars were occluded, so we pretty sure the Moon was out To this day, Cernan that his first glimpse of the surface was not grey or white … but . But this mistaken impression barely a second, before its greyish-brown hue became apparent. The planners and mathematicians had guided to the Moon with pinpoint and there it was . the lunar surface, 60 miles (95 km) from them; so it seemed, that they almost touch it. …

Captured one of Apollo 10′s colour this view reveals to the west of the Sea of Fertility, on the lunar side. Photo Credit:

A few minutes before five in the the SPS engine slowed Apollo 10 by mph (5,900 km/h) and inserted it an elliptical orbit. “I pitched the over,” wrote Tom Stafford, “so we get a good view of the surface. We looking at the so-called far side of the the tide-locked side facing from Earth.” Visible in relief were forbidding pockmarked ridges and furrows, and of craters—including the gigantic Tsiolkovsky named after the humble schoolmaster today revered as the of theoretical cosmonautics. Indeed, the far side looked so tortured it reminded Stafford of a plaster-of-Paris

On the near side, the dark, Sea of Crises was easy to spot, a wrinkle-edged blob, clearly to the astronauts in the wonderful, eerie of the early lunar morning. It stood out, said Stafford added that the running across its floor “straight down just the Canyon Diablo in New Mexico.” given the Latin name ( mare ) by early astronomers, who their darkness for being water, the lunar mare actually formed by ancient eruptions, many of which (as a of the samples collected by astronauts on the have been dated to three and four billion old. Their intrinsic comes from their and some two dozen maria on the near and far sides cover 16 percent of the lunar surface.

Two after their arrival, a SPS burn roughly circularised 10’s path around the at an altitude of a little more 110 km. As the astronauts gawped through Brown’s windows, their adapted to distinguish finer of colour in this lifeless It was now early morning, lunar and the surface exuded a vivid from white to black and a mix of tans, sickly pale and hints of red in some craters. The was completed by the awe-inspiring sight of first Earthrise on the lunar even at this distance—some miles (370,000 km) from could still pick out the ice the vast bulk of Antarctica, the finger of Baja California, the flecks of white cloud, and the blues of the oceans.

Moving into their orbit around the Moon, Young, and Cernan again out the camera and treated their to the first-ever televised images of closest celestial neighbour …  in . Although these early were somewhat “washed-out,” to the height of the Sun in the sky, they as Apollo 10 headed westward, the illumination was oblique and the terrain was into sharper relief. Joe Engle in Mission Control the vast expanse of the Sea of Fertility as Other controllers were by the Langrenus impact crater, its up to two miles (3.2 km) high in its central, cone-like peak 3,200 feet (1,000 from an irregular, boulder-strewn that Apollo 8 astronaut Jim the previous December, had described as “huge.”

Stafford keyed his “Houston, tell the world we arrived! ”

The final part of four-part article will tomorrow.

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