Monday, September 13th, 2010

American Space Programme

I was watching a six part series on DVD about the US space programme over the weekend and discovered a few things about it that I hadn’t known before. There were also a few comments that were made by prople in the series that didn’t make sense.

Things I didn’t know before include:

  • That there were problems with the Gemini 6 launch that led to the engines being shut down again immediately after ignition and that it took three days to fix the problem and resume the launch – unfortunate given that was the launch that had the tightest launch window as Gemini 6 had to rendevous with Gemini 7 which had already launched.
  • They made sure that Apollo 10 couldn’t land on the moon by deliberately underfilling the ascent stage tanks on Snoopy.
  • That Columbia’s last mission was different from the prior series of missions in that it wasn’t carrying a part of the space station into orbit but was instead in a lower orbit carrying out science experiments.
  • That the shuttle flights overcame the radio blackuot on reentry by bouncing the transmissions off of sattelites

There were also some things that I already knew thatwere mentioned in the series (as well as some things they didn’t mention.

  • That the heat shield on the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 came loose and ground control had John Glenn override the retro pack ejection so as to use that to hold it on until air pressure would do the job and that they didn’t tell him why until after he landed. (I didn’t know that he didn’t hear the okay to release it due to the radio blackout).
  • There was no mention made that the “Apollo 1” fire wasn’t originally called Apollo 1 since officially the unmanned Apollo 3 test had already taken place and that is why the first unmanned test after the fire was Apollo 4.
  • That Neil Armstrong flew Eagle horizontally looking for a place to land outside the boulder field and had just 17 seconds of fuel left in the descent stage when they finally landed.
  • That the first manned fligfht to Skylab was delayed (which I knew at the time but had forgotten until seeing the DVD.

The main thing in the series thaugh that didn’t make sense is that there was the claim made that the Americans landed a man on the moon in the sixth decade of the 20th Century. If that were the case then why did they bother following that up with the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs in the seventh decade and why didn’t they broadcast the fact that they’d got to the moon before the Russians got a man into orbit. Finally, if they did land someone on the moon nine or more years before Armstrong and Aldrin then who was it?

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