82 thoughts on “46 Years Ago, Today

  1. Pird

    This page is well worth checking out to get a feeling of the atmosphere in the capsule and on the ground during the minutes leading up to the landing:
    It gives the radio transmissions, transcription and the on board video recorded to re-live it as it happened.

    You can also see the original images from the mission (and NASA’s other manned missions, from the Mercury missions through to the ISS) in high resolution here:

  2. Zarathustra

    Is that a bag of rubbish in the second pic? Some people would do anything to avoid paying bin charges.

      1. Drogg

        It’s Buckfast, the only substance known to man that could survive in space that long.

      1. Pird

        To be fair, the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 made the first successful Moon “landing” in 1959, touching down at a gentle 11,882 kph. The first successful soft landing was also by the Soviet Union, with Luna 9 touching down at 22 kph (protected by an airbag) in 1966.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          Those were unmanned. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to make it.
          Though I do agree that Soviet cosmonauts deserve as much accolade as the Apollo lads for their engineering and innovation.

          1. Zarathustra

            As conspiracy theories go, I think the one about the Titanic being its sister ship, the Olympic, is feasible.

          2. Spaghetti Hoop

            Because of Sputnik and Vostok.The Russians were, eh, light years ahead of the Americans for many decades in terms of space exploration.

          3. classter

            @Spaghetti Hoop
            The cosmonauts were the pilots – Russian engineers & physicists deserve the accolades.

          4. Spaghetti Hoop

            Indeed – my error. I was wrongly using the cosmonaut term as a collective for all.

  3. Drogg

    That feat was and still is amazing and those pictures are stunningly beautiful, but it is infuriating that we haven’t been back in 43 years. We have the technology, So why the fupp are we wasting our time building weapons to fight over small patches of land and resources down here? when we could be venturing out and fighting over who is claiming new lands and resources out there.

    1. ReproBertie

      Realistically if we want to venture out we need a space elevator to build the dry dock in which to build the ships which will venture out.

      1. Drogg

        I have always liked the Space Elevator idea. Maybe have it venturing out to a space station that is in permanent orbit around the planet.

      1. Drogg

        Really there is an asteroid that passed us by on Sunday with Platinum worth $5.4 trillion and that is something that is just passing by not even what deep exploration could yield.

    2. Pird

      Supply and demand. The economically valuable resources on the Moon are available much cheaper on the Earth. Once the price rises enough, or a demand is created on the Moon or in lunar orbit, then you’ll see companies tackling the challenge.

      And there are many challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties in getting there (it is rocket science after all) and the lack of any food, water or even air to keep you alive there when you do, you also have to deal with fun things such as radiation. micrometeoroids, the lunar regolith being shockingly abrasive and carcinogenic, and Moon quakes (from solar heat expansion).

      1. Dόn Pídgéόní

        Don’t forget the clangers, VERY VERY irritating. You wouldn’t want that warbling away outside your moonwindow every morning would you?

      2. Drogg

        You forgot the wasting of astronauts muscles and bones from lack of gravity. But all the obstacles are what makes it so exciting using hydroponics to grow food, terraform small portions of land. It is time we focused on overcoming these obstacles and started a new era of explorers so we can push humanity even more to develop greatness.

  4. Paul W

    Nobody *honestly* believes that such a contraption managed to land on the moon right? What with its tinfoil legs and appearance of a shanty town hut in those photos. . . .right??

    1. Pird

      Suspension for the legs? Sure just make it so they crumple when they land:

      Sure the ascent engine was made of fibreglass:

      Radiation shielding? We’ll go round the worst of it, be grand sure:

      Dealing with solar heating during the three day trip to the Moon? Just keep the craft constanyl rolling to spread the heat out, rotisserie style. We’ll nickname it the “barbecue roll” too for the craic.

    2. bisted

      …hahaha…right Paul…and those ice mountains on Pluto…sure who do they think they’re kidding. The next thing they’ll be banging on about fossils and Darwin.

    3. Peadar

      Lunar gravity is 1/6th earth gravity, and there is no atmosphere. The LEM didn’t need to be incredibly sturdy, or in any way aerodynamic. It would never have been able to land, or even fly, on earth, but then again, it didn’t need to.

      1. Zuppy International

        So Peadar the wise, explain to us all how a rocket works in the alleged vacuum of space?

          1. Zuppy International

            How does science violate what we call Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?

        1. Cheech

          Well, anything sent into space(ISS supplies, probes, etc…) has not only fuel, but oxidizer, to allow the fuel to burn and generate thrust to propel the craft.

          Also, “Alleged vacuum”?

          1. Zuppy International

            If space is a vacuum as N-ASS-A tells us, then what does the rocket push against to move forward? All forces result from interactions: no atmosphere, no force.

          2. ReproBertie

            Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

            The rocket ejects a mass of burned fuel to produce a force. The force produced is proportional to the amount the mass of the combustion products (the exhaust) was accelerated. This follows from F=ma (Force = mass x acceleration). So, the more the exhaust is accelerated, the more force is applied to the rocket.

            It’s easy to see this principle in action by standing on a skateboard or an ice rink and throwing something away. The result will be the thrower moving slightly in the opposite direction (on earth this movement is stopped by gravity, friciton, atmosphere and so on).

          3. Pip

            And a jet would also work perfectly well in space – but you’d have to bring your air with you.

          4. Zuppy International


            Bad science is bad. Force needs interaction. No atmosphere means nothing for the exhaust to push against. You might as well try lift yourself up by your own ears.

          5. ReproBertie

            The force produced by the exhaust ejecting pushes against the rocket which has nothing to brace itself against and so it moves.

          6. ReproBertie


            Your alternative is that it’s a huge conspiracy invovling thousands of people and not one of those people has come out to say “the science is nonsense, we never went to the moon”. Presumably the reflectors placed on the moon’s surface are really just attached to invisible satellites that are in a synchronous orbit with the moon to ensure that anyone bouncing lasers off the moon are actually hitting the invisible-satellite-tethered reflectors which have a built in delay to create the illusion of the laser’s travel to the moon and back?

          7. classter

            Zuppy – you’re not making sense. The rocket doesn’t ‘push against’ the air, it ‘pushes against’ the ship. The fact that there is a vacuum (even if it is not a perfect vacuum) is no hindrance to this.

            You eject gases in one direction & the ship must move in the opposite direction so that momentum is conserved – validating Newton’s Third Law.

            Is this all a wind-up, Zuppy?

        2. Stewart Curry

          Zupppy do you think space rocketry is made up, or space being mostly empty is made up?

        3. Pird

          Rockets don’t need an atmosphere to push against. Quite the opposite: rockets are more effective the thinner the air gets. Which part is it that you draw issue with? Chemical reactions in vacuum, ejecting gasses in a vacuum, throwing heavy masses in a vacuum, or something else?

          Newton’s third law of motion states that when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. A rocket engine is a tube, sealed at one end, with a continuous explosion in the middle. Take any of the particles in the explosion as your first body. Its chemical reaction has left it full of energy, moving at high speed. It can be travelling to the left of the tube, the right of the tube, up to the sealed end of the tube, or down to the open end of the tube. If it hits the tube (the second body), it’ll bounce off it, exerting a force on it. If it’s going left, it’ll bounce right, exerting a left force on the tube. Similarly, if it’s travelling right, it’ll exert a right force on the tube when it hits it. These two average out to cancel each other out, so the rocket engine doesn’t move left or right (but it could vibrate). If our particle is travelling upwards and hits the sealed end of the tube, it’ll exert an upwards force on the tube. Because the bottom end of the tube is open, there is no opposing force to cancel it out. A downward-moving particle escapes without losing any of its energy to the rocket. An inflated balloon released with the bottom untied will show the same effect.

          As you can see, there’s no air needed in this situation. Adding air to it leaves air particles for the explosion particles to hit and give their energy to, leaving you with a large number of medium-speed particles instead of a small number of high-speed ones.

          The above example is looking at a chemical rocket, but as ReproBertie said, you can feel the effects of Newton’s third law in everyday life too. If you’ve ever been unloading heavy goods, or thrown a large rock, you’ll feel yourself being forced backwards as you accelerate the mass forwards. You might even have stumbled backwards if the object you were throwing was big enough, or made your office chair or skateboard roll. If you’ve fired a gun, you’ll have felt the recoil pushing it backwards. If you’ve used a powerful hand drill, you might have felt your wrist twist in the opposite direction to the chuck as you spin up the drill. An ion engine works in this manner, using an electromagnet to accelerate xenon molecules out of the back of the engine.

          If all of that sounds too much like manual labour for you, you’ve probably seen many videos on youtube or You’ve Been Framed where someone steps off a small rowing boat, forcing the boat backwards and away from them, causing them to fall into the new gap between the boat and pier.

          Big solid masses are all well and good, but I’m assuming you draw issue with gasses in a vacuum. You may have been told of adiabatic free expansion, a process in thermodynamics where a gas in a closed system is expanded into a vacuum and does no work. In the case of our rocket engine, it is not a closed system; It has a hole in the bottom through which energy escapes. Our closed system is the universe. The universe does not move when we fire our rocket engine, as no work is done.

          Feel free to ask any questions you have, or call me out on anything I’ve explained poorly or incorrectly.

          You mentioned the “alleged vacuum of space”, but imply that you don’t believe that rocket engines would work there. What is your view of the world? Do you believe there is a vacuum, an end to the Earth’s atmosphere? What is your opinion of unmanned space travel, satellites and in-atmosphere rocketry?

          1. dereviled

            You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think.
            Great answer though ; )

          2. Zuppy International

            Let’s take your balloon example: On earth the gas in the balloon pushes against the atmosphere and so Newton’s third law applies, ie there is an interaction of forces, work is done and so the balloon moves. If the balloon is in a infinite vacuum (as we are told is the nature of ‘space’) then the gas in the balloon meets no resistance/friction/interaction and so no work is done. Does the balloon move?

            Rockets move on earth because the exhaust pushes against the atmosphere (work is done). Without an atmosphere there is nothing for the exhaust to push against and so no work is done. You get around this problem by saying the rocket pushes against itself but this is just as likely as you being able to lift yourself up by your ears. If space is a vacuum then neither rockets nor balloons can do any ‘work’ there. You can’t have it both ways: that’s physics.

          3. Pird

            The propellant (air in the balloon, exhaust gases in the rocket, the rock for the guy on the skateboard) pushing against the atmosphere slows the propellant down. It has no way of propagating this force back to the rocket: It’s already left it far behind. If you try and pull yourself up by the ears, you have a connected system, with your arms transmitting the force from your shoulders to your ears. Your ears move upwards, but there is also a downward force on your shoulders. This system has a second connection: Your neck. Pulling your ears increases the tension in your neck, counteracting you pulling your ears. Once you let them go, the tension is released, undoing any movement caused. If you managed to pull your head off and let it go, you’d see that the upward force on your ears caused your head to fly off, while the downward force of this caused your feet to press into the ground a little harder. The work is done when you accelerate or decelerate the object. If you sit in a rowing boat on a calm lake throwing heavy stones out the back, you’ll find yourself moving during the portion of your throw where you accelerate the rock. What happens to it after it leaves your hand doesn’t affect the boat: You’ll still move forward the same amount whether it hits the water or a rocky shore.

            I understand where you’re coming from; up until the early 1900s, it was believed that rockets needed air to push against to provide thrust.

            So: We have two competing theories. That means that our next step is to put them to the test.

            Robert H. Goddard tested the theory with a vacuum for the first time in 1916 using this device:
            It consists of a vacuum chamber made out of a metal tube with the rocket at the top, ending in a circular curve to prevent rebounding exhaust gases from affecting the reading.
            His observation and conclusion:

            All of the experiments in vacuo showed that the recoil was practically the same as that at atmospheric pressure, down to a pressure of 0.5 mm. The recoil was therefore the result of an actual jet of gas, and was not due to reaction against the air.

            We can create an experiment to test this effect ourselves using a less bulky apparatus. Here’s a video of an experiment in the National Air and Space Museum:

            You can set this up yourself for couple of hundred quid or so. It’s a bell jar connected to a vacuum pump with a see-saw inside. The see-saw has your propulsion method of choice attached to it (in this case, compressed air), so that the weight of the device holds the see-saw down, but any thrust in the vacuum would tip the see-saw over.

            Here’s a cheap bell jar you could use:
            and here’s a cheap hand pump you could use to evacuate it:

          4. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Only one ass around here and its you, who smoked too much weed in college while during your BA in comparative religion and philosophy

          5. Zuppy International

            You’re the perfect example of free expansion Dόn Pídgéόní; a gas expanding into a vacuum and doing no work.

          6. ReproBertie

            Zuppy if I look up at the sky at night I can watch the ISS pass by. If rockets don’t work in space, how did it get there?

          7. ReproBertie

            Because I’ve seen no evidence to suggest otherwise. How do you believe it got there?

          8. Zuppy International

            So as an Act of Faith you believe the ISS is magically floating in space?

            Is that the same Act of Faith that allows you to believe in rockets traveling through a vacuum against all scientific evidence to the contrary?

            Isn’t the simplest most rational explanation of the so-called ISS (the moving object in the night sky that is occasionally visible from the surface of the earth) is that it is actually a high altitude airplane?

          9. ReproBertie

            No, I don’t believe it’s magically doing anything.

            I certainly don’t belive that the simplest most rational explanation is that the ISS, which can be seen with a decent telescope, is actually a high altitude airplane and millions are spent successfully keeping thousands of people quiet about it.

          10. ReproBertie

            I have seen the ISS through a telescope but not one powerful enough to determine the features. Next time I’m in my brother in law’s I’ll remedy that. Of course I’ve never seen South America with my own eyes.

            Have you seen your high altitude airplane with your own eyes?

          11. Zuppy International

            Nope. It’s a rationalisation/theory based on available evidence. But you knew that.

  5. :-Joe

    Almost 50 years has gone by and only recently has the private company Space X developed re-usable and refuel-able rockets that can take off and land from the same launching pad on the earth’s surface which will radically reduce the cost of delivering cargo, payloads and transport into orbit and beyond.

    It’s some achievement but begs the question, what in the fupp have we all been doing on this planet for the last four decades… and why the hell did this event not inspire a lot more effort to make space exploration more of a priority and for it’s development to happen faster?…

    It’s like we’re a bunch of Panda’s genetically pre-programmed to accept extinction as a reasonable eventuality. Although, the general stupidity, corruption and greed of the military complex and the likes of Boeng and Lockheed have had a lot to do with all the wasted investment capital that came largely from US taxpayers over the years. Still, we should already have a well funded global organisation that’s a lot bigger than what we have now.

    Maybe we should rethink our priorities, just sort the obvious bs problems all around us and get a fuppin move on… next step, M.A.R.R.S.

    Pump up the volume, Pump up the volume… Base, Base..


    1. dereviled

      SpaceX isn’t space flight, it’s a lob-shot into the upper athmosphere. Escaping earth’s gravity currently requires vehicles that are 92%-95% fuel.
      The goal, I believe, is regular efficient trips to assemble a spacecraft in low orbit which can then take advantage of centripetal acceleration from the earth’s spin and vastly reduced air resistance.
      Imagine, if you will, making multiple trips to the roof of an office tower to assemble a glider. You can now launch without massive engines, fuel and take-off speed.

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