Archive for July, 2009

A project two years in the thinking and 6 months in the building – a new dining room table.

Check out the Tavern Style Trestle Table – at Fine Woodworking Magazine

Click on images to enlarge – large download warning on most!
Images Copyright Graeme J W Smith


Conservation Assessement
Inspection of the Lunar
Module engineering test
article – yours
Cradle of Aviation Museum

For all those old enough to remember what they were doing 40 years ago – or those who want to share with their kids………

I was a “Child of Apollo” – I suddenly realized that the books I read about landing on the moon were about “how we MIGHT do it” We hadn’t actually done it yet! This was REAL exploring. This was Christopher Columbus, Scott of the Antarctic, Magellan around the World, The Wright Brothers, Pyramids, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and everything mankind had EVER achieved – all rolled into one. Apollo 8′s first manned orbit of the moon during Christmas 1968 was the eye opening wake up call to the environmental movement. Religious or not – the astronauts reading from Genesis had to be one of the most world embracing calls to mankind ever broadcast. And how everyone prayed in their own way that the single engine in the command module would fire and bring them home.

The skin of the Lunar Module
is thin enough to bend under
the slightest pressure.

As an avid new reader and follower of the BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” – the lead science programme that covered the landings in the UK – I garnered every scrap of information – Apollo 11 took off 1/144th of a second late! To save weight – the skin of the lunar module was not much thicker than the aluminium foil in the kitchen drawer.

The Lunar Module Ascent
Engine. Just 36in tall
(1m) One small engine to
start your journey home
from 230,000 miles
away ….

Apollo 9′s crucial lunar module test in Earth orbit seemed tame after 8. Apollo 10 – heck they let them start down! Why didn’t they just let them land? Because the gravity maps of the moon were not yet perfected and they couldn’t predict the orbits well enough, and the software was not complete yet, and the Lunar Module design was still too heavy to get back off and… and… and… This was cutting edge exploring.

But with Apollo 11 – we were ready to try – this was it – it was PHENOMENALLY exciting. We were really going to try. REALLY!

The JFK library has laid on this real time Internet event 40 years after it happened. If you follow along and show it to your kids – maybe they will be inspired to take up where mankind so disappointingly left off after the Apollo missions were cancelled in the early 1970′s

Countdown for the moon has just started – watch the moon mission in real time PLUS 40 years – starting now – 35 hours to lift off and counting (as I type) at:Overall Mission with soundtrackFlash Player Required. Internet Explorer 7/8 run in compatibility modeMission Control Capsule Communicator transcription in real timeApollo 11 Command Module transcription in real timeLunar Module Eagle transcription in real time
Neil Armstrong
at the foot of the
ladder – earth a
distant speck in
the sky.

In this modern day and age when airplanes have three computers to guide them, when everything we build has a backup or some sort of redudancy built in – it is hard to recognize that the Apollo program had none. The cost in fuel of hauling weight into space meant there was exactly ONE of everything and it HAD to work because there were no spares. Statisically it should have been impossible to get everything to work all the time for the whole length of a mission. But somehow – time and again everything worked, every time and on the occassions when it went wrong (Apollo 12 lightning strike at lift off, and the fuel tank explosion on Apollo 13) if the mission was not completed (13) – everyone through training and practice for “what if” got home. There is a lesson there that has been lost in this day and age.

To watch the mission in real time – check in at least 30 mins before each of these key events for the full drama. Suggest 60 minutes for the landing sequence. Click on each time below to download an appointment file that you can save to Outlook or iCalendar so you don’t miss the event. The file is in UTC and should correct to the local time on your computer so you catch things at the correct time.

Lift off of the first mission to the moon that will attempt to land on the surface…..
09:32 EDT on Thursday 16th (14:32 in the UK)Can they land? What is that persistent computer alarm about? Please don’t call an abort – they are SO CLOSE…. Armstrong takes over and flies it down by hand……. Can he do it?…Mon 20th July at 16:17 EDT (21:17 in the UK)Will Neil Armstrong be able to climb down the ladder and what will he say as he steps onto the moon?Mon 20th July 22:56 EDT (Tue 21st July 03:56 in the UK)Will the Ascent Engine Fire? They only have one and it HAS to work if they are going to get off the surface and get home…….

Tuesday 21st July 13:54 EDT (18:54 in the UK)

Will the parachutes open? Did they bring any bugs back from the moon?

Fri 24th July 12:50 EDT (17:50 in the UK)

2. If you want to buy something that has been to the moon – check out this auction at Bonhams:

Bonhams Auction

A spare $250,000 for the good pieces that actually made it to the lunar surface would not be a bad thing to have!

One Small Step.

3. Where are they now? The movie “In the Shadow of the Moon” – which was opening night at the Newport Film Festival a couple of years ago shows all the surviving astronauts who made it – or nearly made it – to the surface (except Armstrong – who is there vicariously through the others’ tales about him) telling some pretty hair raising stories and at the very end they tell you about how “they faked the whole thing”.

Show this movie to your children. Watch these retired astronauts reflect on what inspired them in childhood; what inspired them to get involved with the space program; the incredible risks involved and what they can now – after all these years – tell you about how it affected themselves and the world. These guys are VERY human.

Space buffs – there is never before seen footage from the NASA archive that was brought out of cold storage and developed for this movie.

In the Shadow of the Moon at Amazon

You want to fly a Lunar Module – memorize all this……