Astronaut Life Insurance

How did the Apollo astronauts get life insurance? Well, they didn’t. So they made their own according to Collectors Weekly:

The so-called “insurance” postal covers from Apollo 11 are a safe way of acquiring the crew’s autographs. As Buzz Aldrin has explained, “Since we were unable to obtain adequate life insurance due to the high risk nature of being an astronaut, we signed this group of covers and evenly distributed them to our families for safe keeping while we performed our mission. If an unfortunate event prevented our safe return, the covers would have provided a limited financial means of support to our families.”

This is really a clever approach if you think about it.

On Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong On The Moon

He’s not the first of the twelve to die, but certainly the most notable, and perhaps the most modest. The first person on earth to ever step onto a non earth body simply described himself as:

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,”

He walked on the freaking moon, and he simply describes himself as a nerdy engineer, as if he were one of the legions of IBM or HP employees at their peak.

The youngest Apollo astronaut to have walked on the moon is Charles Duke, who is 76 years old in a nation where the life expectancy for a man is 75.6 years. We’ve effectively got no space program together other than a few rovers being shot to Mars. Within a decade, for the first time in my life, it’s possible there won’t be a man alive who has walked on the moon.

Credit must be given to the generation who pulled it off. We may be capable of having a video call across the glove, but we’re far from being able to repeat what they did decades ago visiting the moon.

Thanks Mr. Armstrong for literally shooting for the moon.

NASA To Use Apollo Era F-1 Rocket Again?

Apparently everything old is new again. NASA is looking at the possibility of once again using the F-1 rocket engine that got the Apollo missions (via the enormous Saturn V) off the ground. It doesn’t say if NASA is interested in the F-1, or the F-1A (which was developed post Apollo). Just goes to show that just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.

Jeff Bezos and team found the F-1 engines of Apollo 11 a few months ago. Since then NASA has suggested The Smithsonian gets first dibs at an engine (which would still be their property if recovered), but a 2nd if recovered could go to the Museum of Flight.

Moon Landing Day

Moon Landing Day

There’s a petition going around to make July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing a national holiday. The US has a fair number of holidays, however I don’t think we have anything that recognized a scientific achievement. Not a bad idea. Low chance of this going anywhere, but it’s a nice idea.

Why not a holiday that encourages Americans to literally shoot for the moon.

Jeff Bezos’s Team Found Apollo 11’s F-1 Engines

Saturn V F-1 Rockets

The Saturn V was perhaps the greatest rocket ever built. Quoting Wikipedia:

It remains the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for the heaviest launch vehicle payload.

The first stage (S-IC) was made of several F-1 rockets. Check out an old video to get an idea of how powerful they really were. The last launched in 1973, and there are a few (shell’s at least) as museum exhibits. We’ve got little left to remember them by. Unlike the Shuttle SRB’s they weren’t reusable. They just went to the bottom of the ocean. The most famous of them all are the ones that sent Apollo 11 on their way to the moon.

Jeff Bezos announced:

I’m excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we’re making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor. We don’t know yet what condition these engines might be in – they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they’re made of tough stuff, so we’ll see.

They are still property of NASA, so lets hope they are willing to let them go to a museum. If Bezos’s suggestion for The Museum of Flight isn’t suitable, perhaps The Smithsonian would be. They have the Command Module (CM) already in the National Air and Space Museum.

We Choose To Go To The Moon

Moon Landing 40th Anniversary

It started during a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961 with John F. Kennedy challenging the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. 1969, 6 years after JFK was assassinated Apollo 11 landed on the moon and this famous newscast with the late Walter Cronkite who coincidentally passed away on Friday.

For the 40th anniversary NASA restored some of the old video of the landing, now available in H.264 to view. It’s not true HD in today’s terms but still impressive to see. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) also manged to snap a few pictures of the landing sites of the Apollo missions just in time. I believe this is the first time they have ever been identified since the actual landings. 2-3X higher resolution images are under way.

Lastly The John F. Kennedy Library launched “We Choose the Moon” a clever “live” broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission in its entirety with exactly a 40 year delay.

Now 40 years later NASA is embarking on Constellation which even in vehicle design parallels what was done in Apollo. We may be back on the moon by 2020 assuming Constellation, Aries IV or DIRECT succeed.