Moon Hoax Debate
Events: Apollo Moon Landings
Created 12/13/2001 - Updated 8/2/2005
Some Answers - page 3
CLAIM: The early artists impressions painted of the LM on the lunar surface showed a crater. Surveyor at 108 lb. free fell from 13 feet to avoid damaging the lunar surface with exhaust gases, yet the LM weighed over 2 tons and cut off engines at 5 ft 8 in. When George Pinter, Lunar Module rocket scientist, was asked about the lack of a crater, on June 15, 1996 his firm (and strange) reply was that one should write the American Consulate in London for the answer to this question. A distinguishing feature of this particular Embassy is it's library of treaties entered into by the United States during the last two hundred years.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
The engine LM can generate 10,500 lb. of thrust, but it was throttled back to 3,000 lb. on landing. But that's 3,000 lb. total over a large area! The nozzle was about 54 inches across with an area of 2,300 square inches. The thrust generated a pressure of only about 1.5 pounds per square inch. This, combined with the fact that exhaust in a vacuum spreads out very rapidly, resulted in very little surface disturbance. - BadAstronomy.com
CLAIM: Even if the surface of the moon was solid rock, the engine burned at 3,250C/1,788C when throttled back to 65% and it should have melted the dust directly under the engine as well as dug a hole. In 1986, rock melted at 1,800F/1000C during the Mount Etna volcanic eruption. There should have been in addition to a changed appearance under the engine, a trail of melted dust and softened rock as the hovering LM neared the touch down location.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
"The LM did not land vertically, the heat from the engine was not concentrated on one point on the surface for long enough to melt the rock." - email from Jason Thompson
CLAIM: Again, with the engine burning at 3,250C/1,788C when throttled back to 65% and it should have damaged the legs of the craft.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR: "The heat from the rocket exhaust would not ignite or scorch the gold Mylar. The lack of oxygen would keep it from burning. The exhaust gases from a rocket engine disperse rapidly in a vacuum, losing temperature and pressure in the process. By the time the exhaust gas reached the Mylar it would likely be too cold to cause visible damage." - email from James Spellman
CLAIM: In the 1990's a rocket called the DC-X was designed to land like the LM. Thirty years AFTER Apollo, the technology still did not exist for this type of landing on Earth. The rocket produced a 2 foot deep crater, debris flew up and impacted the rocket, it sank into its own crater, keeled over and exploded. The DC-X project was then abandoned. Back in May 1968, Armstrong was nearly killed when the LM simulator became unstable. In December 1968 test pilot Joe Algranti also had to eject due to a problem. However, on July 20th, 1969, at 4:18 PM, seven months later the manned LM (never before tested on the lunar surface) from Apollo 11 landed successfully on the moon.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
James Spellman writes that the above conpiracy claim takes two separate unrelated failures from two separate unrelated programs out of context to bolster a false idea. The DC-X progam of the 1990s and the LLTV/LLRV program of the 1960s had different goals. The DC-X was to be a reuseable earth launch vehicle. It had many successful flights before its final landing, when it exploded due to human error. The final failure was due to forgetting to hook up one hydrolic line. This caused landing strut deployment failure, which lead to a tip over and the explosion. The DC-X had already landed successfully and the engine had shut off. Funding was shifted elsewhere, but NASA gained valuable lessons from the successes and failures of the DC-X. Also, by April 1966, the Lunar Lander Research Vehicle had performed more than 100 successful flights.
"The DC-X (Delta Clipper eXperimental) program was not "designed to land like the LM" per se. Instead, it was a demonstration of Single Stage Rocket Technology (SSRT), as part of an effort to develop single stage to orbit (SSTO) launch vehicles – a spacecraft that could launch, fly, re-enter and land all in a single piece without dropping off booster rockets or multi-stages.
The Delta Clipper Experimental was constructed in 1991-93 at McDonnell Douglas' Huntington Beach facility. It was intended as a one-third scale model of a proposed SDIO (Strategic Defense Initiative Office) single-stage launch vehicle. It first flew in August 1993 and had completed three flights when SDIO terminated the Delta Clipper program. After additional funding was procured (an effort I was directly involved with) , the vehicle flew five more flights before being returned to Huntington Beach for conversion into the DC-XA (Delta Clipper eXperimental-Advanced, also known as “Clipper Graham” after the late General Daniel Graham, an early proponent of SSRT and SSTO). ... Like any good experimental vehicle, the DC-XA flew until it was destroyed."
Spellman continues, "As for the second part of the argument, two vehicles were built to train the Apollo astronauts to fly the lunar module. The Lunar Landing Research Vehicles (LLRV) was designed at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center . Bell Aircraft produced and delivered two of them to NASA. The lessons learned from these vehicles were applied toward the more advanced Lunar Lander Training Vehicles (LLTV), three of which were built.
LLRV no. 1, piloted by Neil Armstrong, crashed in May 1968 when the helium pressurization system for the steering jets failed, leaving Armstrong no way to control the vehicle. This was not because the vehicle was too unstable to control, or because Armstrong was a poor pilot. This is like driving your car down the freeway and having the steering wheel come off in your hands. You will crash in that situation, and it's not because cars (in general) can't be steered -- it's because a mechanical failure caused your car to lose control in that particular instance.
There were two other crashes: two of the LLTVs crashed, one in December 1968 and the other in January 1971. These too were caused by technical failures. They used state-of-the-art fly-by-wire technology, and it did not always work perfectly. This is why the vehicles were equipped with ejection seats.
By April 1966, the LLRV had already performed more than 100 successful flights. Conspiracists generally refer only to Armstrong's crash and imply that this was the typical outcome of an LLRV flight. On the contrary, the typical outcome was a safe, successful landing. A fleet of experimental aircraft that can perform hundreds of times over several years with only three serious crashes is not inherently dangerous, unstable, or unflyable. To imply otherwise is to ignore a great deal of fact.
It is important to understand that these vehicles were not built as prototypes for the lunar module. A prototype is built to test the technology that will go into the final version, whether everything fits together, and to determine how it can be built on an assembly line. The LLTVs and LLRVs were built to reproduce for the pilot , as best as could be determined in advance, the "feel" of flying the lunar module using whatever ad hoc technology had to be included to do that in an earth environment."
CLAIM: Hurtling towards the moon at over 6,000 mph, retrorockets must be fired within a fraction of a second to slow the craft for entry into lunar orbit 60 to 100 miles up. On reentry, if the return angle is so steep, the craft will burn up. If it is too shallow, the ship will skip out of the atmosphere and be lost forever in space.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
"Even for astronauts who have trained for years in simulators and gone over and over the procedure time and again? Think of the precision required to land a jet aircraft: too steep and you slam into the ground, too shallow and you miss the runway, or run off the end of it. Too fast or two slow, similar results. Nonetheless, thousands if not millions of such such landings take place every single day, carried out by trained pilots who know precisely what they're doing." - Jason Thompson
CLAIM: Why destroy these documents? This was one of History's greatest accomplishments. Has anyone actually seen the Saturn V blueprints?
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
According to Paul Shawcross from NASA's Office of Inspector General, the blueprints for the Saturn V are held at the Marshall Space Flight Center on microfilm. There are some diagrams of the LM and Moon buggy on the Nasa web site, but the technical blueprints showing sizes, etc. do seem to be missing.
CLAIM: The USSR had superior rockets which lead to these firsts: First satellite (Sputnik), gamma ray data, near miss of Moon (by 4600 mi), man made object to land on Moon (Luna 2), Lunar far-side photos (Luna 3), living creatures to orbit and return to Earth, man in space (Yuri Gagarin), woman in space (V. Tereshkova Vostok 6), three-man crew orbit (Voskhod 1), use of ion propulsion (1964), space walk (two crew), soft lunar landing (Luna 9), photos of Moon surface, lunar orbit (Luna 10), lunar soil sample (Luna 16), lunar rover deployed, human artifact to land on another planet (Mars 3), deep soil sample (7 ft) Luna 24 Aug 9, 1976. This pair of dogs: Belka and Strelka were placed in a 190 by 211 mile orbit, below the van allen belts.
BEST ANSWER SO FAR:
Paraphrased from: http://www.clavius.org/techsoviet.html
"Conspiracists focus on the late 1950s and early 1960s when comparing U.S. and Soviet space technology. They ignore the middle and late 1960s when the Soviets clearly faltered and the U.S. made some key advances. According to the Encyclopedia Astronautica , the U.S. had accumulated 1,864 hours in space prior to Apollo 11 compared to the Soviet Union 's 697 hours at the completion of Soyuz 5 (the last Soviet mission prior to Apollo 11). Let's examine "important milestones" reached first by the Soviets:
First manmade satellite in orbit. Sputnik preceded Explorer I, but the technology gap was not so wide as the political gap. Wernher von Braun and his team had already developed the Jupiter rocket for the U.S. Army. The Jupiter was an extension of von Braun's V2/A4 rocket developed for the Nazis, and there was quite a lot of opposition to using it to launch America's first satellite. And so it fell to the Navy Vanguard rocket, not yet up to such a task but with the political advantage of having been built exclusively by Americans. Explorer I was launched on a Jupiter rocket which had been ready in the wings for more than a year. The U.S. had a suitable booster -- they were just reluctant to use it.
First man in space. Quite true. The Soviets had a clear advantage in their heavy-lift booster which the U.S. at the time couldn't match. But it was not always to be that way.
First man to orbit the earth. Since this and the previous feat were accomplished by the same Soviet feat, we could complain that is padding the list.
Recently the Soviets have admitted that Yuri Gagarin ejected from his Vostok capsule before it landed. Under the rules by which the U.S. and USSR agreed to compete in setting space records, this invalidated Gagarin's claim. No wonder the Soviets waited nearly forty years to tell that part of the story. According to the rules the pilot was to remain with the craft until it landed. We praise Gagarin's daring flight and feel he should be afforded the historical position of first human to orbit the earth. But Gagarin's craft's soft-landing mechanism didn't function. The Soviets rushed him into orbit in an unsafe, uncompleted spacecraft. The U.S. Mercury spacecraft was fully capable of landing with its pilot, so even though it carried John Glenn into orbit some time later than Gagarin, the Mercury capsule was demonstrated to be technologically superior to the Vostok.
First woman in space. There is absolutely no technological advantage to this. Score one for equal rights, but it doesn't belong on a list of "important milestones" for advancing rocket technology.
First crew of three astronauts on board one spacecraft. This would be a good example if the Soviets hadn't simply stuffed a third man into their two-man capsule just to set the record. To make room for the third cosmonaut, they had to take away the crew's space suits and remove other safety equipment. Although the Apollo capsule came a bit later than the Soviet Vokhshod, it was designed for three people and was superior technology.
First space walk. As with the three-man crew, this feat was achieved only at great risk. A makeshift airlock was attached to the capsule (since only one of the astronauts could wear a space suit). Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was initially unable to squeeze back into the airlock after his spacewalk and got inside only by deflating his suit almost to flaccidity.
First two orbiting spacecraft rendezvous. This is simply false. The Soviets staged a facsimile of a rendezvous by carefully timing the launch of a second spacecraft to place it in an orbit to pass very close to the first. This is not a rendezvous as astrodynamicists define the term. A rendezvous is the ability to alter one's orbit to meet and dock with a second spacecraft, regardless of initial conditions. The Soviet spacecraft never got closer than a few miles to each other and had no ability to alter their orbits.
The first bona fide rendezvous occurred on the Gemini 6/7 mission where the spacecraft actually maneuvered to within a few feet of each other. The Gemini program perfected the art of rendezvous with manned and unmanned spacecraft. It also set records for endurance, for altitude, for spacewalk duration, launch turnaround, and other important records. These records, however, were not the glamorous ones and so they don't attract a lot of casual historical attention. But in terms of preparing the American space program for a landing on the moon they were vital. By 1967 these early Soviet records were no longer relevant.
The ability to set records is not equivalent to the ability to create lasting, working technology. And that's why the Soviet space program eventually fizzled. They were trying to set records, while the United States was trying to get to the moon.
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