Monday, September 2, 2019

Postcards from Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission

The Museum of Flight hosting of the Smithsonian Apollo 11 Exhibition, along with many notable additions, is drawing to a close. With the fifty year anniversary to celebrate, I visited the show along with my wife and youngest son. My wife and I were both eleven when Apollo 11 flew its historic mission. I was living Fort Lauderdale, looking longingly (and without reward) to the north whenever a rocket was launched.  The mission was certainly an inspiration to me then, but frankly, I am more and more impressed as time goes by. The dedication and willingness to take great risks, the methodical engineering coupled with pushing scientific breakthroughs as required, the clean sheet approach to the unknown number of challenges; truly a great example of what a society can accomplish if it chooses to. And we chose to!

The Apollo 11 Mission exhibition is hosted within the Museum of Flight. On a bright, sunny Sunday, the first hint is a giant astronaut standing by a Lockheed Constellation just in front of the Main entrance.

The beginning of the story starts with a local flair. I collect Space Needle memorabilia, so it was a delight to be greeted by it.

The Lunar Rover is a local story. The city of Kent has recently taken it under its wing. A close family friend, Claire Adriance, was a manager on the project and dazzled me with stories of working with astronauts. It is a marvelous device, unfolding automatically by pulling eight small pins. Used first on Apollo 15, it had its problems. The remote control monitoring camera was a real marvel, opening the door for mission control to lend an eye. It also gave us a view of the departure, the ascent phase from the surface.

The first photographs of a the Earth in the background from the moon (Lunar Orbiter 1). Perhaps not as pretty as the Apollo 8 snapshot, but far, far more impressive a feat.

Where to land a manned spacecraft on the moon?

Finally, send someone out to have a look (Apollo 10). Of course, in the end, Neil Armstrong just "winged it". I love how there is a North direction.

Meanwhile, the Soviets had started the race to space with Sputnik.

Vostek was their space vehicle. The re-entry was a bit unconventional. The cosmonaut was ejected from their capsule and parachuted down.

The evolution of the Apollo mission involved to great challenges: how to get there and how to land. From Mercury Redstone to Saturn V.

Navigating by the stars. Humans have always looked to the stars to guide them on their great adventures.

This was the Apollo 11 star chart.

Let's go to the moon!

The capsule. So close you could reach out and touch it.

I sat and marveled at the burn marks from reentry. And the handholds for the deep-space spacewalk to retrieve film from the service module.

Staring out at the lunar surface.

The visor and gloves used by Buzz Aldrin.

John Young was a hero of mine when he stretched his impressive accomplishments to command the first space shuttle.

Prepared to survive in hostile climates.

The lunar module, wrapped up like a present.

Jeff Bezos recovered a number of F-1 engine components from the ocean floor.

With just a lifetime separating them, it was a touching remembrance to include parts of the Wright Flyer on the mission to the moon. 

Leaving the exhibition into the great hall, one of my favorite aircraft, the F-104 Starfighter sits above.

Jacqueline Cochran was a pioneering woman pilot that included many great accomplishments.

Another pioneering woman was Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space.

A bit of avionics history, an early autopilot and actuator.

While the F-104 showed that wings were hardly a necessity, early swept wing aircraft suffered concerns  over span-wise flow. Here are some massive fences on the MIG-15 to impede the flow.

 Airplanes, astronauts, rockets and space vehicles. The Museum of Flight brings inspiration to young and old alike!

Stay tuned!

Peter Lemme

peter @
Follow me on twitter: @Satcom_Guru
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

Peter Lemme has been a leader in avionics engineering for 38 years. He offers independent consulting services largely focused on avionics and L, Ku, and Ka band satellite communications to aircraft. Peter chaired the SAE-ITC AEEC Ku/Ka-band satcom subcommittee for more than ten years, developing ARINC 791 and 792 characteristics, and continues as a member. He contributes to the Network Infrastructure and Interfaces (NIS) subcommittee developing Project Paper 848, standard for Media Independent Secure Offboard Network.

Peter was Boeing avionics supervisor for 767 and 747-400 data link recording, data link reporting, and satellite communications. He was an FAA designated engineering representative (DER) for ACARS, satellite communications, DFDAU, DFDR, ACMS and printers. Peter was lead engineer for Thrust Management System (757, 767, 747-400), also supervisor for satellite communications for 777, and was manager of terminal-area projects (GLS, MLS, enhanced vision).

An instrument-rated private pilot, single engine land and sea, Peter has enjoyed perspectives from both operating and designing airplanes. Hundreds of hours of flight test analysis and thousands of hours in simulators have given him an appreciation for the many aspects that drive aviation; whether tandem complexity, policy, human, or technical; and the difficulties and challenges to achieving success. 

No comments:

Post a Comment