Apollo 11 CMP Mike Collins has passed

The advances in technology that the space program brought were just ridiculous. The Apollo Guidance Computer, as one example, was a miracle of miniaturization. It drove the development of digital integrated circuits. To think that some people believe that Herculean effort was all done as a prank boggles my mind at the level of stupidity.

The Vehicle Assembly Building is truly enormous. Apparently they encountered a new phenomenon when laying the foundations. The rebar in the wet concrete acted as electrodes, while the pH of the concrete acted as an electrolyte. Thus making an enormous battery, until the concrete cured. When I visited KSC, they took us on a bus tour of the place. There was (is?) a US flag painted on one of the sides of the VAB. Each stripe would be big enough to drive the tour bus down, were it horizontal. The floor area is 8 acres, and it’s over 500ft tall. You don’t build something like that for shits ‘n giggles.

As for the rockets, well I’ve personally seen a Shuttle launch from Cocoa beach, which is over 15 miles away. Lucky me, it was a night launch. It literally turned night into day as the Shuttle launched. Deafening noise, even from that distance. Truly, an awesome sight.

Those that deny the program are stupid beyond belief, and those involved in the program have my utmost respect. It cost peoples’ lives, too. After the fatal events of Apollo 1, Gene Kranz issued his dictum. Inspirational.

Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been in design, build, or test. Whatever it was, we should have caught it. We were too gung ho about the schedule and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we. The simulators were not working, Mission Control was behind in virtually every area, and the flight and test procedures changed daily. Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, ‘Dammit, stop!’ I don’t know what Thompson’s committee will find as the cause, but I know what I find. We are the cause! We were not ready! We did not do our job. We were rolling the dice, hoping that things would come together by launch day, when in our hearts we knew it would take a miracle. We were pushing the schedule and betting that the Cape would slip before we did.

From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: ‘Tough’ and ‘Competent.’ Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write ‘Tough and Competent’ on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.
 
I was reading Moon lander by Thomas J kelly, all about the development of the LEM, when the fire happened on Apollo one that killed Virgil Gus Grissom, Ed white and Roger Chaffee, it was like a great catalyst that swung attitudes into action, changing NASA into a more professional organization, and it put a rocket up Grumman too.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
The advances in technology that the space program brought were just ridiculous.
Regardless of the size of the computer, one processor, one task running at a time. For NASA, IBM invented the Job Entry Subsystem, JES. The processor is one of the fastest components in the computer. If it's waiting for data from tape, disk, keyboard, it's wasting time.

JES queues up jobs, and the instant a task pauses for I/O, another task in the queue, with all its resources ready, jumps in.

I heard whispers that if you really, really broke something in JES, it was possible forty years on from Mercury, Gemini, Apollo to get an obscure NAS system error rather than a JES system error. Put simply, parts of JES had never needed patching and never been updated.

In recent times with multiple processors, sysplexes, etc, JES is less critical and it has moved on, but it's still the Job Entry Subsystem.
 
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maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
in terms of books, this - Amazon product - is probably one of the best about the programme. for six quid on kindle, it's a steal.
 

Tyk

LE
I've always admired the sheer skill and guts of the astronauts and the capabilities of the engineers that built the moonshot equipment, great example of what can be achieved when people put their minds to it.
Not a trivial number of technologies got their start or a major boost as a result of the US Space Programme.

Sad that Gen Collins has gone to his rest, a man with proper achievements under his belt.
 
one of the unsung heroes of ground Control was the ice cool Gene Kranz, flight controller, his finest hour was Apollo 13, you can hear the command and leadership in his voice in this excellent rendering by public service broadcast.
 
one of the unsung heroes of ground Control was the ice cool Gene Kranz, flight controller, his finest hour was Apollo 13, you can hear the command and leadership in his voice in this excellent rendering by public service broadcast.


Thanks for posting that, that was just outstanding. Really enjoyed the music, and the channeling of the flight controller run-down for a go/no-go was brilliant. Very much reminds me of probably my all time best movie scene - Apollo 13. Gene Kranz gives it "Listen up Apollo 13 Flight Controllers - give me a go/no-go for launch" and then runs through the positions. A few seconds later, we're "hauling the mail". Best played at max dB with subwoofer and surround sound.

I may be busy for a few minutes :)
 

Slime

LE
Plus of course, the Sov's would have been monitoring it all, and if the radio & tv comms weren't coming from the Lunar surface, they'd have been crowing about it all being a fake straight away - yet they were very gracious in their congratulations I believe. You've got to remember this in the geo-political context of the Cold War as well, of course.

I seem to have recently repeatedly mentioned a radio show/podcast I listen to.

I’ve started listening to ‘The unexplained with Howard Hughes’.

There have been some cracking conspiracies to listen to about the moon landings. The real joy of the podcast is that it started in 20072008, and there are numerous ‘experts’ interviewed who confidently tell the viewer that something will happen, or will be revealed in a year or two. I just have a chuckle and think ‘Oh know it didn’t‘

The show contains some real ‘gems’ around JFK, UFOs, moon landings and aliens.

What is amusing is how the various ‘experts’ can have theories on How the Soviets would have kept quiet about moon landing hoaxes................While ignoring the multiple occasions the Soviets happily bad mouthed the USA.
 
As a follow up to my earlier post if anyone ever goes to Florida I would urge you to visit Kennedy Space Centre to see some of the hardware from the Apollo era - it is humbling and mind boggling in equal measure
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Went there with the family back in 1989.
Forget Walt Disney World, Sea World, etc, what stayed in the memory of me and my (at the time) 12 year old son and still does to this day for both of us, was the Space Centre. A truly awesome and mind boggling experience.
I came away from there with a renewed and enhanced respect for the whole Space Programme and in particular, the Astronauts themselves.
The word is completely overused nowadays, but RIP to a genuine Legend.
 
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one of the unsung heroes of ground Control was the ice cool Gene Kranz, flight controller, his finest hour was Apollo 13, you can hear the command and leadership in his voice in this excellent rendering by public service broadcast.
He was the right man at the right time. Some said he was difficult to work for, but he left you in no doubt what was required. His book "Failure is not an option" is a brilliant read. It highlights just how much of the Gemini and Apollo programmes were "seat of the pants" flying using new and poorly tested software and relying on very clever people making snap judgements.

Some quotes from the book:

“You can not operate in this room unless you believe that you are Superman, and whatever happens, you're capable of solving the problem.”

“Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect.”

“Loading new software into new computers and using it for the first time was like playing Russian roulette. It demanded and got a lot of respect.”

“always hire people who are smarter and better than you are and learn with them.”


and my personal favourite, which anyone who has ever been in command should have tattooed on their heads:

“Apollo succeeded at critical moments like this because the bosses had no hesitation about assigning crucial tasks to one individual, trusting his judgment, and then getting out of his way.”

If you are interested in the American space programme, I thoroughly recommend this book.

Amazon product
 

SignalFire

Clanker
People still believe in this cold war era hoax in 2021?

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Slime

LE
Err, slightly confused: are you a moon-landing denier?

It’s always good to see someone claim ‘the moon LANDING’ was a hoax, or in this case refer to ‘it’ as a cold war hoax.
By ‘landing’ or ‘it’ I can only assume they mean the Russian landing, multiple later US landings and the 2019 Chinese landing :)

Edit.
To be fair to India I suppose I’d better include their lander, but their attempt landed on the surface less than graciously.
 
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Went there with the family back in 1989.
Forget Walt Disney World, Sea World, etc, what stayed in the memory of me and my (at the time) 12 year old son and still does to this day for both of us, was the Space Centre. A truly awesome and mind boggling experience.
I came away from there with a renewed and enhanced respect for the whole Space Programme and in particular, the Astronauts themselves.
The word is completely overused nowadays, but RIP to a genuine Legend.

Went to the space center in 93, a really inspiring place to visit when you think of what history that place holds.
When you think how isolated Collins must have felt when Armstrong and Aldrin left him for those few days (?), with no guarantee that he would see them again, let alone make it back to Earth.
 
Went to the space center in 93, a really inspiring place to visit when you think of what history that place holds.
When you think how isolated Collins must have felt when Armstrong and Aldrin left him for those few days (?), with no guarantee that he would see them again, let alone make it back to Earth.

To listen to him he wasn't that bothered as he had plenty to be getting on with. Test pilots seem to be able to understand the consequences of things going wrong without imagining things going wrong.
 

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