1.a program of space flights undertaken by US to land a man on the Moon"the first lunar landing was achieved by the Apollo program on July 20, 1969"
voir la définition de Wikipedia
Apollo program (n.)
|Goal||"landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth"|
|Tasks||Manned landing on the Moon, Scientific studies relating to the Lunar geology|
|Legacy||First manned landing on another celestial body|
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F. Kennedy proposed the national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s in a May 25, 1961 address to Congress.
Kennedy's goal was accomplished with the Apollo 11 mission when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon on July 20, 1969 and walked on its surface while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command spacecraft, and all three landed safely on Earth on July 24. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six spaceflights, 12 men walked on the Moon.
Apollo ran from 1961 to 1972, following the Mercury and Gemini programs. It used Saturn family rockets as launch vehicles. Apollo / Saturn vehicles were also used for an Apollo Applications program which consisted of three Skylab space station missions in 1973–74, and a joint U.S.–Soviet mission in 1975.
Apollo was successful despite two major setbacks: the 1967 Apollo 1 cabin fire that killed the entire crew during a pre-launch test; and an in-flight failure on the 1970 Apollo 13 flight which disabled the command spacecraft's propulsion and life support, forcing the crew to use the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" for these functions until they could return to Earth safely.
Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit; Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology incidental to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo also sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Its command modules and other objects and artifacts are displayed throughout the world, notably in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums in Washington, DC, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, Space Center Houston in Texas, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. The Apollo 13 Command Module is housed at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Apollo program was conceived early in 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, as a follow-up to America's Mercury program. While the Mercury capsule could only support one astronaut on a limited earth orbital mission, the Apollo spacecraft was to be able to carry three astronauts on a circumlunar flight and eventually to a lunar landing. The program was named after the Greek god of light, music, and the sun by NASA manager Abe Silverstein, who later said that "I was naming the spacecraft like I'd name my baby." Dr. Silverstein recalls he chose the name after perusing a book of mythology at home one evening, early in 1960. He thought that the image of "Apollo riding his chariot across the Sun was appropriate to the grand scale of the proposed program." While NASA went ahead with planning for Apollo, funding for the program was far from certain given Eisenhower's ambivalent attitude to manned spaceflight.
In November 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president after a campaign that promised American superiority over the Soviet Union in the fields of space exploration and missile defense. Using space exploration as a symbol of national prestige, he warned of a "missile gap" between the two nations, pledging to make the U.S. not "first but, first and, first if, but first period." Despite Kennedy's rhetoric, he did not immediately come to a decision on the status of the Apollo program once he became president. He knew little about the technical details of the space program, and was put off by the massive financial commitment required by a manned Moon landing. When Kennedy's newly appointed NASA Administrator James Webb requested a 30 percent budget increase for his agency, Kennedy supported an acceleration of NASA's large booster program but deferred a decision on the broader issue.
On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly in space, reinforcing American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. At a meeting of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics one day after Gagarin's flight, many congressmen pledged their support for a crash program aimed at ensuring that America would catch up. Kennedy, however, was circumspect in his response to the news, refusing to make a commitment on America's response to the Soviets.
On April 20, Kennedy sent a memo to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, asking Johnson to look into the status of America's space program, and into programs that could offer NASA the opportunity to catch up. Johnson responded approximately one week later, concluding that "we are neither making maximum effort nor achieving results necessary if this country is to reach a position of leadership." His memo concluded that a manned Moon landing was far enough in the future that it was likely the United States would achieve it first.
On May 25, 1961, Kennedy announced his support for the Apollo program during a special address to a joint session of Congress:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
At the time of Kennedy's proposal, only one American had flown in space—less than a month earlier—and NASA had not yet sent an astronaut into orbit. Even some NASA employees doubted whether Kennedy's ambitious goal could be met. Kennedy even came close to agreeing to a joint US-USSR moon mission, to eliminate duplication of effort.
Landing men on the Moon by the end of 1969 required the most sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources ($24 billion), ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.
It also required the conversion of the Space Task Group, which had been directing the nation's manned space program from NASA's Langley Research Center, into a new NASA center, the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), to be housed in a new facility built in Houston, Texas on land donated by Rice University. In September 1962, by which time two Project Mercury astronauts had orbited the Earth, and construction of the MSC facility was under way, Kennedy visited Rice to reiterate his challenge in a famous speech:
"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? ...
We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ...Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, 'Because it is there.' Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."—
Once Kennedy had defined a goal, the Apollo mission planners were faced with the challenge of designing a set of flights that could meet it while minimizing risk to human life, cost, and demands on technology and astronaut skill. Four possible mission modes were considered:
In early 1961, direct ascent was generally the mission mode in favor at NASA. Many engineers feared that a rendezvous —let alone a docking— neither of which had been attempted even in Earth orbit, would be extremely difficult in lunar orbit. However, dissenters including John Houbolt at Langley Research Center emphasized the important weight reductions that were offered by the LOR approach. Throughout 1960 and 1961, Houbolt campaigned for the recognition of LOR as a viable and practical option. Bypassing the NASA hierarchy, he sent a series of memos and reports on the issue to Associate Administrator Robert Seamans; while acknowledging that he spoke "somewhat as a voice in the wilderness," Houbolt pleaded that LOR should not be discounted in studies of the question.
Seamans' establishment of the Golovin committee in July 1961 represented a turning point in NASA's mission mode decision. While the ad-hoc committee was intended to provide a recommendation on the boosters to be used in the Apollo program, it recognized that the mode decision was an important part of this question. The committee recommended in favor of a hybrid EOR-LOR mode, but its consideration of LOR —as well as Houbolt's ceaseless work— played an important role in publicizing the workability of the approach. In late 1961 and early 1962, members of NASA's Space Task Group at the Langley Center (which was in process of transitioning to the newly formed Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston), began to come around to support for LOR. The engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center took longer to become convinced of its merits, but their conversion was announced by Wernher von Braun at a briefing in June 1962. NASA's formal decision in favor of LOR was announced on July 11, 1962. Space historian James Hansen concludes that:
The LOR method had the advantage of allowing the lander spacecraft to be used as a "life boat" in the event of a failure of the command ship. This happened on Apollo 13 when an oxygen tank failure left the command ship without electrical power. The Lunar Module provided propulsion, electrical power and life support to get the crew home safely.
Preliminary design studies of Apollo spacecraft began in 1960 as a three-man command module supported by one of several service modules providing propulsion and electrical power, sized for use in various possible missions, such as: shuttle service to a space station, a circumlunar flight, or return to Earth from a lunar landing. Once the Moon landing goal became official, detailed design began of the Command/Service Module (CSM), in which the crew would spend the entire direct-ascent mission and lift off from the lunar surface for the return trip. (An even larger, separate propulsion module would have been required for the lunar descent.)
The final choice of lunar orbit rendezvous changed the CSM's role to a translunar ferry used to transport the crew and a new spacecraft, the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), which would take two men to the lunar surface and return them to the CSM.
As the program concept evolved, use of the term "module" changed from the generic meaning of an interchangeable component of systems with multiple variants, to simply a component of the complete spacecraft.
The Command Module (CM) was the crew cabin, surrounded by a conical re-entry heat shield, designed to carry three astronauts from launch to lunar orbit and back to an Earth ocean splashdown. As such, it was the only component of the Apollo spacecraft to survive without major configuration changes as the program evolved from the early Apollo study designs. Equipment carried by the Command Module included reaction control engines, a docking tunnel, guidance and navigation systems and the Apollo Guidance Computer.
Attached to the Command Module was the cylindrical Service Module (SM), which housed the service propulsion engine and its propellants, the fuel cell power system, four maneuvering thruster quads, a high-gain S-band antenna for communications between the Moon and Earth, and storage tanks for water and oxygen. On the last three lunar missions, it also carried a scientific instrument package. Because its configuration was chosen early before the selection of lunar orbit rendezvous, the service propulsion engine was sized to lift the CSM off of the Moon, and thus oversized to about twice the thrust required for translunar flight.
As used in the actual lunar program, the two modules remained attached throughout most of the flight to make a single ferry craft known as the Command/Service Module (CSM), which carried a separate lunar lander (only half as heavy as the CSM) to the Moon, and the astronauts home to Earth. Just before re-entry, the Service Module was discarded and only the Command Module re-entered the atmosphere, using its heat shield to survive the intense heat caused by air friction. After re-entry it deployed parachutes that slowed its descent, allowing a smooth splashdown in the ocean.
Under the leadership of Harrison Storms, North American Aviation won the contract to build the CSM, and also the second stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle for NASA. Relations between North American and NASA were strained during the winter of 1965–66 by delivery delays, quality shortfalls, and cost overruns in both components. They were strained even more a year later when a cabin fire killed the crew of Apollo 1 during a ground test. The cause was determined to be an electrical short in the wiring of the Command Module; while the determination of responsibility for the accident was complex, the review board concluded that "deficiencies existed in Command Module design, workmanship and quality control." This eventually led to the removal of Storms as Command Module program manager.
The Lunar Module (LM) (originally known as the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM), was designed to fly between lunar orbit and the surface, landing two astronauts on the Moon and taking them back to the Command Module. It had no aerodynamic heat shield and was of a construction so lightweight that it would not have been able to fly through the Earth's atmosphere. It consisted of two stages, a descent and an ascent stage. The descent stage contained compartments which carried cargo such as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package and Lunar Rover.
The contract for design and construction of the Lunar Module was awarded to Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, and the project was overseen by Tom Kelly. There were also problems with the Lunar Module; due to delays in the test program, the LM became a "pacing item," meaning that it was in danger of delaying the schedule of the whole Apollo program. The first manned LM was not ready for its planned Earth orbit test in December 1968, but the program was kept on schedule by canceling a second manned Earth orbit LM flight.
When the team of engineers led by Wernher von Braun began planning for the Apollo program, the payload capacity required for a manned lunar landing was not yet clear. Sending the three-man Apollo Command/Service Module directly to the lunar surface would require an extremely large launch vehicle, the Nova, which could send over 130,000 pounds (59,000 kg) to the Moon. NASA's decision to use the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous method eliminated the need for Nova and met the capability of the Saturn rocket family, so the Marshall Space Flight Center proceeded to develop the Saturn I, Saturn IB and Saturn V. While the Saturn V was less powerful than the Nova would have been, it still holds the record for largest payload capacity (260,000 lb/120,000 kg to LEO or (100,000 lb/45,000 kg to the Moon) of any rocket developed as of 2012. The closest comparable launch systems were the Energia (220,000 lb/100,000 kg to LEO) and the unsuccessful N1 (200,000 lb/91,000 kg to LEO), which the Soviet Union developed for manned lunar flight in competition with Apollo.
Since Apollo, like Mercury, would requre a launch escape system (LES) in case of a launch failure, a relatively small rocket was required for qualification testing of this system. However, a size bigger than the NAA Little Joe would be required, so the Little Joe II was built by General Dynamics/Convair. After an August, 1963 qualification test flight, four LES test flights (A-001 through 004) were made between May 1964 and January 1966.
Saturn I, the first US heavy lift launch vehicle, was initially planned to lift the 20,000-pound (9,100 kg) partially-fueled CSM in low Earth orbit tests. However, the CSM's weight grew beyond this, requiring the uprated Saturn IB. The S-I first stage was powered by eight H-1 engines burning RP-1 with liquid oxygen (LOX) oxidizer, to produce 1,500,000 pounds-force (6,670 kN) of thrust. The S-IV second stage used six liquid hydrogen-fueled RL-10 engines with 90,000 pounds-force (400 kN) of thrust. A planned Centaur (S-V) third stage with two RL-10 engines, never flew on Saturn I.
Five Saturn Is were used to launch boilerplate CSMs into orbit in 1964 and 1965. The last three further supported the Apollo program by carrying Pegasus satellites, which verified the safety of the translunar environment by measuring the frequency and severity of micrometeorite impacts.
The Saturn IB was an upgraded version of the Saturn I. The S-IB first stage increased thrust of its eight engines to 1,600,000 pounds-force (7,120 kN), and the second stage replaced the S-IV with the S-IVB, powered by a single J-2 engine burning liquid hydrogen fuel with LOX, to produce 200,000 lbf (890 kN) of thrust. A restartable version of the S-IVB was used as the third stage of the Saturn V. The Saturn IB was used in two unmanned and one manned CSM flight, and also launched an unmanned test of the Lunar Module. One unmanned flight, AS-203, carried no spacecraft but was used to support the Saturn V design in a test of the behavior of its excess hydrogen fuel in orbit.
The Saturn V was a three-stage rocket consisting of:
Three Saturn V vehicles launched on Earth orbital flights. Two of the three (Apollo 4 and 6) were unmanned tests of the command and service modules, and the third was a manned flight, Apollo 9, testing the lunar module. Nine Saturn Vs launched manned Apollo missions to the Moon, including Apollo 11. It was also used for the unmanned launch of Skylab.
Forty-one astronauts were assigned to fly Apollo spacecraft; thirty-two of them were part of the Apollo program, with the rest not flying until the subsequent Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. Twenty-four of the Apollo program astronauts left Earth’s orbit and flew around the Moon (Apollo 7 and Apollo 9 did not leave low Earth orbit).
Twelve of these astronauts walked on the Moon’s surface, and six of those drove a lunar rover on the Moon. While three astronauts flew to the Moon twice, none of them landed on the Moon more than once. The nine Apollo missions to the moon occurred between December 1968 and December 1972.
Apart from these twenty-four people who visited the Moon, no human being has gone beyond low Earth orbit. They have, therefore, been farther from the Earth than anyone else. They are also the only people to have directly viewed the far side of the Moon. The twelve who walked on the Moon are the only people ever to have set foot on an astronomical object other than the Earth. Of the twenty-four lunar astronauts taking part in the Moon missions, two went on to command a Skylab mission, one commanded Apollo-Soyuz, one flew as commander for shuttle approach and landing tests and two went on to command orbital shuttle missions. A total of twenty-four Apollo-era astronauts (as well as pre-Apollo astronaut John Glenn) flew the space shuttle.
The Apollo Program used 3 Florida launch sites: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 34 and 37, built for the Saturn I and Saturn IB; and Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 just north of the Canaveral AFS, specially built to assemble and launch the Saturn V. Construction of the $800 million LC-39 began in November 1962, and the two launch pads A and B were completed by October 1965. The 130,000,000 cubic feet (3,700,000 m3) Vehicle Assembly Building was completed in June 1965, and the infrastructure by late 1966. Supporting equipment included: a hangar capable of holding four Saturn Vs; a transporter capable of carrying 5,440 tons along a crawlerway to either of two launch pads; a 446-foot (136 m) mobile service structure; 3 Mobile Launcher Platforms, each with a fixed launch umbilical tower; a Launch Control Center; and a press site.
Apollo required more than six years of spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing before the first manned missions could be flown. Test flights of the Saturn I launch vehicle began in October 1961 and lasted until September 1964. Three further Saturn I launches carried boilerplate models of the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM). Two pad abort tests of the launch escape system took place in 1963 and 1965 at the White Sands Missile Range.
Three unmanned tests of Apollo components with the Saturn IB (Apollo-Saturn, or AS) were officially designated (in their chronological order of launch) as AS-201, AS-203, and AS-202. According to original plan the first CSM manned orbital mission AS-204, called Apollo 1, should be after two unmanned suborbital flights of CSM (AS-201 and AS-202). Then AS-205 CSM manned orbital and AS-206 LM (the Apollo Lunar Module) unmanned flights followed by dual AS-278 mission of AS-207 CSM and AS-208 LM (started on Saturn IB separately for docking) were scheduled. Later AS-205 mission was canceled, AS-278 dual mission was reassigned as AS-258 and AS-278 CSM+LM common manned mission on Saturn V was planned.
After a pre-launch fire caused the death of the Apollo 1 crew on January 27, 1967, manned missions were postponed, while unmanned LM and Saturn V flights continued. At this point, NASA started publicly designating Apollo missions by sequence number (starting with Apollo 4), rather than by the launch vehicle designation (AS-201 to 205 for Saturn IB, AS-501 to 512 for Saturn V.) The sequence started at "4" to cover the first three unmanned flights while reserving Apollo 1 to honor the lost astronauts. The "AS" launch vehicle designations were still kept internally.
Apollo 4 (AS-501) was the first unmanned test flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle, carrying a CSM. Launched on November 9, 1967, Apollo 4 exemplified George Mueller's strategy of "all up" testing. Rather than being tested stage by stage, as most rockets were, the Saturn V would be flown for the first time as one unit. Walter Cronkite covered the launch from a broadcast booth about 4 miles (6 km) from the launch site. The extreme noise and vibrations from the launch nearly shook the broadcast booth apart- ceiling tiles fell and windows shook. At one point, Cronkite was forced to dampen the booth's plate glass window to prevent it from shattering. This launch showed that additional protective measures were necessary to protect structures in the immediate vicinity. Future launches used a damping mechanism directly at the launchpad which proved effective in limiting the generated noise. The mission was a highly successful one, demonstrating the capability of the Command Module's heat shield to survive a trans-lunar return reentry by using the Service Module engine to ram it into the atmosphere at higher than the usual earth-orbital reentry speed.
Apollo 5 (AS-204) was the first unmanned test flight of LM in Earth orbit, launched on January 22, 1968, by a Saturn IB. The critical LM engines were successfully tested (though a computer programming error cut one test firing short), including an in-flight test of the second stage engine in "abort mode," in which the ascent engine is fired simultaneously with the jettison of the descent stage. This capability was made available, only to be used in the event of a critical problem on the Moon landing, such as running out of descent fuel, but was never needed.
Apollo 6 (AS-502) was the last unmanned Saturn V flight, launched on April 4, 1968. It carried a CSM and a LM Test Article near the mass of the Lunar Module for ballast. It was planned to achieve translunar injection, then after 5 minutes, use the Service Module engine to return the CM to Earth, thus demonstrating the Saturn V's ability to send the Apollo craft to the Moon, and a direct return-to-Earth abort capability. However, "pogo" vibrations caused premature shutdown of two second-stage engines, and failure of the third stage to re-light for the translunar injection. Instead, the Service Module engine was used as in Apollo 4 to raise the craft to a higher Earth orbit, and bring the CM back at a velocity midway between that of low Earth orbit and lunar return velocity. This mission was considered successful enough to launch men on the next Saturn V flight, since fixes for the vibration problem were identified.
The manned missions carried three astronauts, designated as Commander (CDR), Command Module Pilot (CMP), and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP). Besides exercising all crew command decisions, the Commander was the primary pilot of both spacecraft (when present) and was first to exit the LM on the surface of the Moon. The CMP functioned as navigator, usually performed the initial docking with the LM, and remained in the Command/Service Module when his companions flew the LM. The LMP functioned as engineering officer, monitoring the systems of both spacecraft. On a landing mission, he accompanied the Commander on the lunar surface. On the last flight, the LMP was a professional geologist, Dr. Harrison Schmitt.
The first planned manned mission was an Earth orbital test of the Block I CSM launched with a Saturn IB was designated AS-204, or Apollo 1, originally planned for late in 1966, but plagued by delays until February 21, 1967. A second Block I CSM orbital flight, AS-205, was originally planned but canceled in late 1966. The next manned mission was planned as a dual launch of the Block II CSM (originally AS-207, then changed to AS-205) with AS-208 launching an unmanned LM to which the astronauts in the CSM would dock. This mission was first designated AS-258, and later as AS-278. This would be followed by the first manned launch of both spacecraft on a Saturn V in a high Earth orbital test.
These plans had to be revised after the January 27, 1967 fire which killed the Apollo 1 crew in a pre-launch test. Manned flight of the Block I CSM was canceled, and the program concentrated on unmanned testing of the Saturn V and LM while safety improvements were made to the Block II CSM which would be used exclusively in manned flight. The AS-278 mission was revised to use a Saturn V in a single launch instead of two Saturn IBs.
Apollo 7, launched on October 11, 1968, was the first manned mission in the program. It was an 11-day Earth-orbital flight intended to test the CSM as in former planned AS-204 Apollo 1 mission. It was the first manned launch of the Saturn IB launch vehicle and the first three-man American space mission.
Between December 21, 1968 and May 18, 1969, NASA planned to launch three manned test/practice missions using the Saturn V launch vehicle and the complete spacecraft including the LM. But by the summer of 1968 it became clear to program managers that a fully functional LM would not be available for the Apollo 8 launch. Rather than waste the Saturn V on another simple Earth-orbiting mission, they chose to send the crew planned to make the second orbital LM test in Apollo 9, to orbit the Moon in the CSM on Apollo 8 during Christmas. The original idea for this switch was the brainchild of George Low, Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. Although it has often been claimed that this change was made as a direct response to Soviet attempts to fly a piloted Zond spacecraft around the Moon, there is no evidence that this was the case. NASA officials were aware of the Soviet Zond flights, but the timing of the Zond missions does not correspond well with the extensive written record from NASA about the Apollo 8 decision. The Apollo 8 decision was primarily based upon the LM schedule, not fear of the Soviets beating the Americans to the Moon. Soviets undertook partially successful unmanned Zond 5 and Zond 6 missions and could near December, 8 but have not decided to launch almost ready manned Zond mission before Apollo 8.[clarification needed]
This was followed by the first orbital manned LM flight on Apollo 9 (as former planned AS-278 mission and with the original Apollo 8 crew), and the lunar "dress rehearsal" Apollo 10 which took the LM to within 50,000 feet (15 km) of the surface, but did not land. The first landing was achieved on Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.
That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.
Apollo 12 made a precision landing near the Surveyor 3 unmanned lunar probe, which had landed in April 1967. The Apollo 13 mission was aborted before the landing attempt, but the crew returned safely to Earth. The four subsequent Apollo missions (14 through 17) included successful Moon landings. The last three of these were J-class missions that included the use of Lunar Rovers.
Apollo 17, launched December 7, 1972, was the last Apollo mission to the Moon. Mission commander Eugene Cernan was the last person to leave the Moon's surface. The crew returned safely to Earth on December 19, 1972.
Mission rules specified that, in most circumstances, only one person in the Mission Control Center would communicate directly with the in-flight crew; this was to be another astronaut, who would be best able to understand the situation in the spacecraft and communicate with the crew in the clearest way. These individuals were designated Capsule Communicators or CAPCOMs, a term carried over from the Mercury and Gemini programs. They were usually chosen from the backup and support crews, and worked in shifts during long missions. The periodic beeps heard during communications with the astronauts are known as Quindar tones.
The Apollo program returned 841.5 lb (381.7 kg) of rocks and other material from the Moon, much of which is stored at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. The only sources of Moon rocks on Earth are those collected from the Apollo program, the former Soviet Union's Luna missions, and lunar meteorites.
The rocks collected from the Moon are extremely old compared to rocks found on Earth, as measured by radiometric dating techniques. They range in age from about 3.2 billion years old for the basaltic samples derived from the lunar mare, to about 4.6 billion years for samples derived from the highlands crust. As such, they represent samples from a very early period in the development of the Solar System that is largely missing from Earth. One important rock found during the Apollo Program was the Genesis Rock, retrieved by astronauts James Irwin and David Scott during the Apollo 15 mission. This rock, called anorthosite, is composed almost exclusively of the calcium-rich feldspar mineral anorthite, and is believed to be representative of the highland crust. A geochemical component called KREEP was discovered that has no known terrestrial counterpart. Together, KREEP and the anorthositic samples have been used to infer that the outer portion of the Moon was once completely molten (see lunar magma ocean).
Almost all the rocks show evidence for having been affected by impact processes. For instance, many samples appear to be pitted with micrometeoroid impact craters, something which is never seen on earth due to its thick atmosphere. Additionally, many show signs of being subjected to high pressure shock waves that are generated during impact events. Some of the returned samples are of impact melt, referring to materials that are melted near an impact crater. Finally, all samples returned from the Moon are highly brecciated as a result of being subjected to multiple impact events.
When President Kennedy first chartered the Moon landing program, a preliminary cost estimate of $7 billion was generated, but this proved an extremely unrealistic guess of what could not possibly be determined precisely, and James Webb used his administrator's judgment to change the estimate to $20 billion before giving it to Vice President Johnson.
Webb's estimate shocked many at the time (including the President), but ultimately proved to be reasonably accurate. In January 1969, NASA prepared an itemized estimate of the combined cost of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The total for Apollo came to $23.9 billion, itemized as follows:
The final cost of project Apollo was reported to Congress as $25.4 billion in 1973. It took up the majority of NASA's budget while it was being developed. For example, in 1966 it accounted for about 60 percent of NASA's total $5.2 billion budget.
In 2009, NASA held a symposium on project costs which presented an estimate of the Apollo program costs in 2005 dollars as roughly $170 billion. This included all research and development costs; the procurement of 15 Saturn V rockets, 16 Command/Service Modules, 12 Lunar Modules, plus program support and management costs; construction expenses for facilities and their upgrading, and costs for flight operations. This was based on a Congressional Budget Office report, A Budgetary Analysis of NASA’s New Vision for Space, September 2004. The Space Review estimated in 2010 the cost of Apollo from 1959 to 1973 as $20.4 billion, or $109 billion in 2010 dollars. Each lunar landing thus cost $18 billion in 2010 dollars.
Originally three additional lunar landing missions had been planned, as Apollo 18 through Apollo 20. In light of the drastically shrinking NASA budget and the decision not to produce a second batch of Saturn Vs, these missions were canceled to make funds available for the development of the Space Shuttle, and to make their Apollo spacecraft and Saturn V launch vehicles available to the Skylab program. Only one of the remaining Saturn Vs was actually used to launch the Skylab orbital laboratory in 1973; the others became museum exhibits at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, George C. Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Following the success of the Apollo program, both NASA and its major contractors investigated several post-lunar applications for Apollo hardware. The Apollo Extension Series, later called the Apollo Applications Program, proposed up to 30 flights to Earth orbit. Many of these would use the space that the lunar module took up in the Saturn rocket to carry scientific equipment. Of all the plans, only two were implemented: the Skylab space station and the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project.
Skylab's fuselage was constructed from the second stage of a Saturn IB, and the station was equipped with the Apollo Telescope Mount, itself based on a lunar module. The station's three crews were ferried into orbit atop Saturn IBs, riding in CSMs; the station itself had been launched with a modified Saturn V. Skylab's last crew departed the station on February 8, 1974, and the station itself re-entered the atmosphere in 1979, by which time it had become the oldest operational Apollo-Saturn component.
In 2008, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's SELENE probe observed evidence of the halo surrounding the Apollo 15 lunar module blast crater while orbiting above the lunar surface. In 2009, NASA's robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, while orbiting 50 kilometres (31 mi) above the moon, photographed the remnants of the Apollo program left on the lunar surface, and photographed each site where manned Apollo flights landed.
In a November 16, 2009 editorial, The New York Times opined:
[T]here’s something terribly wistful about these photographs of the Apollo landing sites. The detail is such that if Neil Armstrong were walking there now, we could make him out, make out his footsteps even, like the astronaut footpath clearly visible in the photos of the Apollo 14 site. Perhaps the wistfulness is caused by the sense of simple grandeur in those Apollo missions. Perhaps, too, it’s a reminder of the risk we all felt after the Eagle had landed – the possibility that it might be unable to lift off again and the astronauts would be stranded on the Moon. But it may also be that a photograph like this one is as close as we’re able to come to looking directly back into the human past.
The Apollo program, specifically the lunar landings, has been called the greatest technological achievement in human history. The program stimulated many areas of technology. The flight computer design used in both the lunar and command modules was, along with the Minuteman Missile System, the driving force behind early research into integrated circuits. The fuel cell developed for this program was the first practical fuel cell. Computer-controlled machining (CNC) was pioneered in fabricating Apollo structural components.
The crew of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, sent televised pictures of the Earth and the Moon back to Earth (left), and read from the creation story in the Biblical book of Genesis, on Christmas Eve, 1968, This was believed to be the most widely watched television broadcast until that time. The mission and Christmas provided an inspiring end to 1968, which had been a bad year for the U.S., marked by Vietnam War protests, race riots, and the assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy.
One legacy of the Apollo program is the now-common view of Earth as a fragile, small planet, captured in photographs taken by the astronauts during the lunar missions. The most famous, taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts, is The Blue Marble (right). These photographs have also motivated some people toward environmentalism.
Many astronauts and cosmonauts have commented on the profound effects that seeing Earth from space has had on them; the 24 astronauts who traveled to the Moon are the only humans to have observed Earth from beyond low Earth orbit, and have traveled farther from Earth than anyone else to date.
The program succeeded in accomplishing one of President Kennedy's goals, which was to take on the Soviet Union in the space race and beat it by accomplishing a singular and significant achievement and thereby showcase the superiority of the capitalistic, free-market system as represented by the US. The Economist noted, however, the irony that in order to achieve the goal the Apollo program was successful by organizing tremendous public resources within a vast, centralized bureaucracy under government direction.
As part of Apollo 11's 40th anniversary in 2009, NASA spearheaded an effort to digitally restore the existing videotapes of the mission's live televised moonwalk. After an exhaustive three-year search for missing tapes of the original video of the Apollo 11 moonwalk, NASA concluded the data tapes had more than likely been accidentally erased.
We're all saddened that they're not there. We all wish we had 20-20 hindsight. I don't think anyone in the NASA organization did anything wrong, I think it slipped through the cracks, and nobody's happy about it.—Dick Nafzger, TV Specialist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Moon landing data was recorded by a special Apollo TV camera which recorded in a format incompatible with broadcast TV. This resulted in lunar footage that had to be converted for the live television broadcast and stored on magnetic telemetry tapes. During the following years, a magnetic tape shortage prompted NASA to remove massive numbers of magnetic tapes from the National Archives and Records Administration to be recorded over with newer satellite data. Stan Lebar, who designed and built the lunar camera at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, also worked with Nafzger to try to locate the missing tapes.
So I don't believe that the tapes exist today at all. It was a hard thing to accept. But there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence that led us to believe that they just don't exist anymore. And you have to accept reality.—Stan Lebar, Lunar Camera Designer, Westinghouse Electric Corporation
With a budget of $230,000, the surviving original lunar broadcast data from Apollo 11 was compiled by Nafzger and assigned to Lowry Digital for restoration. The video was processed to remove random noise and camera shake without destroying historical legitimacy. The images were from tapes in Australia, the CBS News archive, and kinescope recordings made at Johnson Space Center. The restored video, remaining in black and white, contains conservative digital enhancements and did not include sound quality improvements.
Numerous documentary films cover the Apollo program and the space race, including:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Apollo missions|
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