back to article Apollo 11 @ 50: The long shadow of the flag

Tomorrow it will be a full 50 years since humans first set foot on the Moon, and nearly 50 years since the annual hand-wringing began over why none have gone back after Apollo 17. For sure, Apollo 11 was a monumental achievement, as the US went from practically zero spaceflight experience to setting Neil Armstrong and Edwin " …

  1. Geoff May (no relation)

    Ranger etc. missions

    Already touched on in the article but I get the impression I am the only person who remembers Ranger and Surveyor missions ...

    1. OssianScotland Bronze badge
      Go

      Re: Ranger etc. missions

      I do too, also don't forget the Lunar Orbiter missions that provided the detailed mapping to allow the landings to succeed.

      Something about "shoulders of giants" seems appropriate here.

      1. The lone lurker

        Re: Ranger etc. missions

        Not sure about shoulders of giants, Titans maybe...

        https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4203/toc.htm

        The link is a book called "On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini"

        However, if you mangle the URL, you'll find a huge number of free resources from that time documenting the work from Redstone to Shuttle.

        1. OssianScotland Bronze badge

          Re: Ranger etc. missions

          I was going a bit further back, to Sir Isaac Newton

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Ranger etc. missions

      I remember Surveyor. I though it was pretty cool that Apollo XII went to visit the thing, see how it had been doing all of those years. A relative of mine designed one of the sensors on the thing, and I was really interested in space stuff at the time. EVERYONE was. It was a good time in that regard, being interested in ACCOMPLISHMENT. Compare that to now. Yeah.

      NASA did great things in many ways because it had support. In part that requires leadership that believes in such things (like JFK). "OK we did that... but NOW what?" The 'now what' wasn't clear enough, or thought to be important enough, and the implications are now obvious.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Ranger etc. missions

        I'm pretty sure Kennedy didn't "believe" in space exploration. The simple fact is that the Soviets had a new shiny-shiny and the Americans had nothing equivalent. Putting aside the fact that the reason the Soviets had the shiny-shiny was because their nuclear warheads weren't up the US specs, they had demonstrated a clear technological superiority in the new field of spaceflight. And that wouldn't do.

        Hence Kennedy picking a target which was so far out it made previous accomplishments fairly irrelevant.

  2. STOP_FORTH
    Trollface

    Honking great metaphor for something or other

    Tell us el Reg, what is the meaning of the flag falling over?

    Enquiring minds (and Reg readers) need to know!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Honking great metaphor for something or other

      It means they didn't know, and think of, everything...

    2. CommanderGalaxian
      Holmes

      Re: Honking great metaphor for something or other

      Because if it had been faked, it would still have been standing.

  3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Armstrong and Aldrin, inside the fragile Lunar (Excursion) Module, Eagle, left Michael Collins alone in the Command Module Columbia orbiting the Earth, and headed down to the surface of the Moon.

    Fortunately the Command Module was orbiting the Moon.

    1. Ochib

      Doesnt the Moon orbit the Earth. so they were orbiting the Earth in the same way that the Moon orbits the Sun

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Doesnt the Moon orbit the Earth

        Sort of - they actually both orbit a barycentre since they are both fairly massive.. Said barycentre is still within Earth's crust but isn't centre of the earth (it's at about 3/4 of the radius of Earth).

        Of course, non-pedants would piffle that this was equivalent to the moon orbiting the Earth but we don't want that sort round here, do we?

      2. Derek Jones

        The moon orbits the Sun

        The moon orbits the Sun and is heavily perturbed by the Earth, i.e., the gravitational pull of the Sun on the Moon is twice as great as the gravitational pull of the Earth on the Moon.

        1. CommanderGalaxian
          Headmaster

          Re: The moon orbits the Sun

          So does that mean the Sun causes bigger tidal forces on the Moon than the Earth causes on the Moon?

          1. Michael Maxwell

            Re: The moon orbits the Sun

            Not sure, but tidal forces decline as the cube of distance (not the square).

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: The moon orbits the Sun

              No - because the proportional difference between the force from the closest and furthest point from the orbited body is very much smaller for the sun (~93M miles away) as compared with the difference against the earth moon distance (0.25M miles)

              It's nearly a 400X difference in average distance.

              So the 'difference' in force from one side to the other of the planet is very much smaller - and that's what tidal forces are.

              http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/tide.html#mstid

        2. Michael Maxwell

          Re: The moon orbits the Sun

          My intuition was that you were wrong. But in fact...you were right, and I was wrong. There's a calculation here: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/98953.html (and similar calculations elsewhere).

        3. Benson's Cycle

          Re: The moon orbits the Sun

          Isaac Asimov pointed that out in an essay roughly half a century ago, but few people seem to know it. His point was that the Earth and Moon are really a double planet.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: The moon orbits the Sun

            "Earth and Moon are really a double planet"

            Like Pluto?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "Fortunately the Command Module was orbiting the Moon"

      they couldn't trust a robot to do it. So it's like "the bus driver" never gets to go on the tour. But that's his job. And if I had the opportunity to be "the bus driver" on a Lunar mission, I'd probably take it. yeah you didn't get the glory of actually STANDING and WALKING on the moon, but you get to GO THERE and BE IMPORTANT as "the bus driver".

      A lot of people forget about Mike Collins who spent all of his 'alone time' taking photos and doing other sciency things.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

    See title

    Also: possibly just filmed in a studio**

    ** Unless you're American and feel your "national pride" is being called into question.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      4 posts in and the raving lunatics are already out of the woodwork. Good job!

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      I wonder why nobody says it about the CCCP space program, in a country where people made long queues to get some bread and cabbage.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        Oh, somebody did say it once about the Russian space program. "The Russian Space Hoax" by Lloyd Mallan featured prominently in Science & Mechanics magazine for several issues.

        1. Michael Maxwell

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          There must be someone here as old as me. I remember Lloyd Mallan's claims. I wanted to believe them at the time, but I was a bit skeptical. One of his claims was that the pictures Luna 2 took of the back side of the Moon couldn't be right. (IIRC, because they didn't show any significant maria.) A few years later, when US spacecraft orbited the Moon, it of course turned out that the Soviet pictures were quite accurate (if a bit blurry).

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Well of course they faked it and of course they were blurry - a mirror held out all the way from here to behind the moon on a handle _that_ long is bound to shake a bit while you take the picture...

        2. Any other name

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "The Russian Space Hoax" by Lloyd Mallan featured prominently in Science & Mechanics magazine for several issues.

          Thanks, that was a fun piece to read. A somewhat blurry scan of the articles can be found here.

          As is often the case, it reveals more about the state of the mind of the person who wrote it and of the people willing to believe it, than it does of the subject matter. It is fascinating to see that this mindset is still alive and well - not in the least in the discussions of Chinese science and technology, in particular as pertains to their originality and state of advancement relative to the American conterparts ;o)

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      Most of the interior and space scenes were filmed in a studio, but Kubrick was such a primadonna, and he insisted that the lunar scenes be filmed on location.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        It's absolutely farcical that people still believe they went.

        Even if you ignore the many, many issues with footage and so forth. Think about the distances involved of placing a minute object onto another relatively tiny object, over a distance of 384,000 km. Plus all of the inherent risks. I mean, there are situations on Earth where commercial airliners can't make it from A to B or land on a runway straight over a distance of a few hundred miles, whist in our natural atmosphere.

        Versus:

        America couldn't bare the thought of anyone else achieving this so decided to cross it off by any means necessary.

        Which of those things is more realistic? Are people really still this thick?

        1. Dr_N Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Tin foil hats! Get your tin foil hats! Now only £50 each. Roll up, roll up ... !

          1. Sanguma

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history Roll up!

            Okay if I walk up? I'm out of practice with rolling up.

        2. Gio Ciampa

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Stopped reading roughly around the "Anonymous Coward" point...

          ...either put your name to your claims, or just don't bother posting...

        3. iron Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Explain being able to bounce a laser off the reflectors they left behind.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            "Lasers"? Is that the one where "scientists" say they can make light burn through metal if you give them a pocket full of rubies?

            Some people will fall for anything.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              Oh, that isn't even the most ludicrous part - some of the more brazen swindlers claim they don't even need the rubies, they can do the same thing with the stuff you exhale from your lungs... Ha!

              1. Stevie Silver badge

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                You mean Life Gas?

                Astounding.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Explain being able to bounce a laser off the reflectors they left behind.

            I don’t doubt the human landings but a doubter might suggest that LRRR reflector could be carried to the moon by an unmanned mission. This is due to happen soon, moonLIGHT refector is due to be placed on the lunar surface this year, it will be much more accurate than the LRRR.

            The fact that there were so many people involved in the Apollo missions means that if they had not happened then there would be at least a coupe of whistle.blowers. But there are none.

            1. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              The fact that there were so many people involved in the Apollo missions means that if they had not happened then there would be at least a coupe of whistle.blowers. But there are none.

              Yup, no whistleblowers and the Soviets didn't cry foul (unless the Illuminati were conspiring with both sides). Good enough for me.

              The LRRRs prove that human artefacts made it to the moon. We could argue that the manned missions were staged, but if you've got the rocket to get there, how difficult is it to stick a pressurised capsule on the top with 10 days of food and air?

              Quite difficult, but no more so than the engineering already done.

            2. Stork Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              Exactly the same argument against holocaust deniers - it would have needed an army to fake the mountains of paperwork the Germans did, how come none have come forward?

        4. LDS Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          If you think, ships where able to cross the oceans in the XVI century (and some, even before=. It should have been impossible for Magellan ships to find the way home, right? What about Cook? Or Vikings find Iceland and Greenland and getting back?

          If you think, in WWII battleships could place shells on moving targets large some metres, 20.000 metres away.

          Commercial airlines crossed the oceans wit accuracy well before GPS was invented.

          You mean also all probes, including the Russian ones, were fake? How could Gagarin return to Earth at the given landing location?

          It's called "mathematics" and "physics" and if you master it, it is very precise - even at very large distances for humans. Le Verrier and Adams calculated where to find Neptune using it - without computers.

          And in Space there are no clouds (but some nebulas.... far away) to cover the stars you need to check your position...

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            That is rather Eurocentric. While Europeans were coast hugging on the other side of the planet the Polynesian's ancestors were sailing out into the wide, wide Pacific ocean (1/3 of the earth's surface).

            Initially they sailed east on the early season trade winds then returned on the late season reversal telling what they'd found. But the point is they sailed off into the horizon in a huge ocean in open dugout catamarans with pounded bark sails.

            After a time they learned to sail into the wind so they were not so tied to the trade winds and could make deliberate voyages in the central Pacific. But a cultural drive to find new unpopulated islands and colonise them evolved. They reached the far edge and interacted with the locals. They transmitted coconuts and received sweet potatoes (edited). But we know those who later colonised Hawai'i, Rapanui and Aotearoa carried sweet potatoes as standard.

            Later those three cardinal points of the Polynesian triangle were found and colonised after the ability to sail across the wind was developed. You cannot sail to or from the Central Pacific and those places without being able to sail across the wind.

            Note Aotearoa/NZ was settled in about 1200ACE.

            One of Cook's lieutenants noted in his diary their astonishment watching a native boy in an outrigger zip across the bay 'as though the wind direction was inconsequential'.

            Cook sailed a square rigger. By the time of the mass European colonisation in the early mid 19thC the ships were lanteen rigged with triangular sails placed along the hull. The influence of that change is rarely acknowledged. Europe learned to sail properly by watching the Polynesians do it.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              "Europe learned to sail properly by watching the Polynesians do it"

              Well maybe not *ENTIRELY* but 'm sure that the Polynesians had perfected many of the tiny details. Outrigger canoes tend to have high stability and like a catamaran can handle crosswinds well. As such, you can tack at 90 degrees and not capsize. Tall ships designed for trade winds can't really do that without a really deep keel and as such you wouldn't be able to go into port with it.

              But maybe as much as 2000 years prior to that, there were triangular sailed craft, clear evidence of which apparently dates back to the 1st century BC (according to 'teh intarwebs'). This was alluded to in the movie 'Ben Hur' as the Roman ships had square sails, and after Ben Hur rescues the captain, the captain asks him what shape the ship's sails are that he sees, and he said something like "It's a square sail. It's a Roman ship".

              So anyone using a triangular sail would be doing so because of its advantage when tacking. But you can't make a TALL ship that way, not without making it a catamaran or outrigger. It's just different application of different ways of getting the job done. Fast downwind (tall ship with square sails) or fast tacking (catamaran or outrigger with triangular sails).

              so what does this have to do with moon exploration? Not a whole lot, really. Except it's probably worth pointing out that people have GOOD IDEAS ALL OF THE TIME, and when you get them together on a single project, you can do some REALLY COOL SCHTUFF... like go to the moon!

              1. Sanguma

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history:- triangular sails

                "But maybe as much as 2000 years prior to that, there were triangular sailed craft, clear evidence of which apparently dates back to the 1st century BC"

                Well, for what little it's worth, consider this little fact - innovations tend to develop many minor variations at the point of origin and settle down to one or two variations at the ends of the arc of their diffusion. So the fore-and-aft sail variations cluster thick and fact around the Malaysia/Indonesia archipelago and even out into the Pacific, while at one end of the fore-and-aft sail arc, we have the junk rig, and at the other, we have the lateen sail and the lug sail - though I tend to think of the lug sail as a square sail doing work for more than 40% of the time, rather than a development of the lateen. And you can derive the junk rig and the lateen from the side variety of the Malaysian and Indonesian fore-and-aft rigs, but you can't derive those rigs from either the junk rig or the lateen. (The gaff rig and others seem to be either a development of the lateen or the lug: the Marconi/Bermuda appears to be a gaff and topsail rig development.)

                So fore-and-aft rig appears to be a Malaysian-Indonesian development. The square sail appears to be a Mediterranean development.If the Mediterranean hadn't been trading with India during the BCE era, they would never have encountered the fore-and-aft rigs in use on the Indian Ocean - some Sumatrans settled Madagascar, did you not know? The Madagascaran language is an Indonesian language.

                And how does this tie in with Apollo and the Moon landings? Well, as far as manned space flight goes, we're in the position of the early northern Europeans with dug-out canoes, hugging the coast.

            2. Stork Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              I politely disagree. Viking ships could do 60 degrees to the wind, and the Portuguese discoverers had lateen sails (as had dhows AFAIR)

            3. LDS Silver badge

              "That is rather Eurocentric"

              Sure. It was just the first examples which came to my mind - the ones I know better.

              Anyway, the Atlantic Ocean has far fewer islands - it is not good for "islands hopping" - it required vessel able to sustain longer travels. Moreover being oceanic European countries well above the Equator, it meant they had to face colder seas - the one Vikings crossed was quite dangerous, not surprisingly they took advantage of a warmer period.

              Triangular sails were available in the Mediterranean sea already - ships like the carrack or the caravel had triangular sails as well.

              Just as written elsewhere, they couldn't be the main sails of large vessels.

          2. spold Bronze badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            >> Or Vikings find Iceland and Greenland and getting back?

            Actually good evidence that they traveled onward from Greenland and reached North America in the 11th century naming it Vinland (most likely on the Newfoundland and Labrador coast in Canada, supported by discovery of a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland dated to this period.).

            OK, perhaps these remains were buried by dinosaurs who were also around at the time.

        5. Patrician

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          The only reason you think this is because you have no understanding of the science and engineering involved.

          Landing on the Moon is relatively simple newtonion mechanics, the calculations for which can be done on a pocket calculator; you just have to have an understanding of maths.

          Newton's three laws of motion are as follows:

          1. An object remains at rest or moves in a straight line at a constant speed unless acted upon by a nonzero total force.

          2. A force acting on a body causes it to accelerate (change its state of motion) to a degree that is proportional to the body's mass. Stated as an equation, writing F for force, m for mass, and a for acceleration, we have F = ma. In

          Other words, an object's velocity and momentum changes with time in proportion to the force acting on it.

          3. Forces occur in pairs pointing in opposite directions.

          (This law is most often stated as: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, when a gun fires, the force acting on the bullet as it accelerates through the barrel is equal to the recoil of the gun acting on the shooter's hand or shoulder.)

          The fourth basic law of Newtonian physics is the law of universal gravity: F = Gm 1 / r 2 m 2. Here F is gravitational pull, G is the universal gravitational constant (a fixed number, G = 6.6742 × 10 -11 m 3 kg -1 s -2), m 1 is the mass of one object, m 2 is the mass of the other object, and r is the distance between the centers of the two objects. Larger masses mean larger gravitational force,

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            "The only reason you think this is because you have no understanding of the science and engineering involved."

            This, rephrased as If I can't see how it was done it must be impossible underpins all laughable conspiracy theories including a raft of idiocies about the Pyramids requiring space-alien intervention to get built (because they are perfect geometric solids or point North or any one of a number of demonstrably false nonsenses) and, naturally, the Moon landings. The one that makes me see red and demand retraction is the "I'm not a metalurgist but I'm now going to speak at length on how the metal in the frame of the WTC towers could not have melted from just a plane crash" obscenity.

            If these twats would spend as much time getting educated on the fundamental principles as they do lapping up the latest brainfart from some Arsebook page they would do everyone including themselves a favor.

            I showed one PyramidPonce photographs of the Pyramids showing clearly that they didn't line up, point north (or wherever it was supposed to be) and weren't perfect structures, but instead showed a steady progression of mistakes becoming expertise - in other words, stereotypical human engineering. He still invoked imaginary space aliens and claimed the National Geographic was printing lies.

            Another idiot banged on about the Marie Celeste being found in the Bermuda Triangle. When I dug out a map of he world and showed Mr Woo-Woo that the Marie Celeste's reported location was nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle's understood boundaries, he claimed that that just proved he Bermuda Triangle was - wait for it - growing bigger.

            Yet another person invoked oceanic farting to explain "unexplained ship losses" in he Bermuda Triangle, citing a TV-filmed experiment. When I pointed out the violence of the postulated "methane bubbles" needed and questioned why none of the satellites we have looking for plumes of chemicals could see all this methane needed to sink a ship, and in turn cited the poor condition, lousy crews (in one case the captain couldn't communicate with the crew because they didn't share a common language) and broken instrumentation (no compass or radar being common) reported on each of the vessels putatively lost to ocean farts and wondered if entirely more mundane explanations might be found for the losses she said I was living in a fantasy world.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              " idiocies about the Pyramids requiring space-alien intervention to get built"

              I once saw a TV documentary in which someone debunked all of that in the simplest way possible: building an actual pyramid. It was a small one, with only a few layers, and the blocks were smaller too, but he constructed it with ramps constructed from slag and Egyptian sand, with a handful of people, and the usual kinds of traditional muscling of things into place. The idea was to build them a layer at a time, and have a continuous spiraling ramp going around the outside. Then when you get to the top you take away the ramp, fill in the outer sections of the pyramid as you come back down, and so on. It's why pyramids are triangular, in many ways because of that spiral ramp (made of sand and slag) going to the top along the outer edge.

              Or that's the theory. But some evidence suggests they discovered electric lighting also, a large glass bulb that could be evacuated with WATER AND HOSES if you knew what you were doing. You can't suck water up more than about 30 feet of hose, because it forms a perfect vacuum at the top. So that's how you make a vacuum pump, a 30 foot drop of water in a pipe or hose, and we know they had batteries and wire, so there ya go. Ancient Egyptians were pretty freaking smart, and well motivated to succeed, and didn't need space aliens to do it FOR them. And then you could make all of those "how did they do that' paintings inside of pyramid, using an electric light.

              Similarly, Apollo scientists and engineers were pretty smart, too, and got the job done, landing 2 men on the moon and bringing them back again.

              (as for whether or not there ARE space aliens, I think there ARE. but their conspiratorial role in human history is unlikely to be significant - most likely they would INTERFERE and try to HOLD US BACK, rather than advance us forward, just to become a threat to them later. If they're not just observing, that is)

            2. Nier

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              I like that! Arsebook is a better name than Faceache.

            3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              Quote:

              The one that makes me see red and demand retraction is the "I'm not a metalurgist but I'm now going to speak at length on how the metal in the frame of the WTC towers could not have melted from just a plane crash" obscenity.

              It didnt melt

              And as an explanation for the hard of thinking

              steel has a tensile strength, at 20 degrees C , a steel I beam has a strength of 20 tons (pure guess here but you'll see where I'm going in a moment), at 800 degrees C (jet fuel/building contents fire) it loses 75% of its strength.

              So now the I beam has a strength of 5 tons.... and the designers loaded the beam with 6 tons of stress when the building was designed.......

              Compromise the building structure too and the surprising thing about the WTC towers is not that they came down, but they stayed intact for 60 and 90 mins....

              Boris, 30 yrs of metal bashing/observing material properties and author of "why the fuck do you think blacksmiths heat steel up before bashing the stuff"

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Thanks Patrician, could you please do Keplers for us?

          3. Mage Silver badge

            Re: calculations for which can be done on a pocket calculator

            An abacus will do, but it was Americans, not Asians, so slide rules. Abacus is more accurate than a slide rule, though slower. It can be more accurate than an electronic calculator as you can have more digits and no rounding errors.

            1. Nier

              Re: calculations for which can be done on a pocket calculator

              I remember an Arthur C Clarke story about a spaceship or maybe starship that lost all its computing ability. A crew member of Chinese ancestry made a bunch of abacuses and taught everyone to use them. They broke the celestial navigation equations into tiny chunks and successfully navigated their way home.

          4. Ralph Online

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Newtonian physics... well yeah, but I would guess most of the difficulty is solving second order differential equations. And for this they could have used Analogue Computers instead they went Digital I think because of weight constraints. Bit like giving up on a hammer drill and using a penknife?

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Wow. I didn't realize there were so many flat-earthers on a tech site. Bizarro.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Though this is slightly OT, it is easily possible to do a degree in CompSci or mechanical engineering while remaining a Flat Earther or even a Young Earth Creationist. There seem to be a fair number of them in the US (he says having met a couple.)

            Physics, geology and microbiology are not subjects to encourage your Fundamentalist Christian offspring to follow.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              "it is easily possible to do a degree in CompSci or mechanical engineering while remaining a Flat Earther"

              A bit more difficult if you visit the seaside or the shore of a large lake and start to wonder why ships disappear hull down. Or if you visit some place well to the north or south of where you normally live and wonder about why the sun follows a different path to what you're used to. Being a Flat Earther is only possible with very limited geographical experience.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            I assume that people who post AC are usually trolling (i.e. don't really believe what they say), unless there's an obvious alternative reason.

            That goes for you too.

        7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Imagine going through life this stupid

          1. mark4155

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Imagine being able to string two words together and being this stupid!

            1. Muscleguy Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              I was briefly employed recently to run courses for the long term unemployed in employment skills. There was one guy, who has followed me via email and in person afterwards who seems made of conspiracy theories. His entire worldview is based on wackiness and he cannot be argued with so wedded to it is he.

              He is perfectly lucid and reasonably intelligent but utterly wacko. And he can vote but I doubt he does so.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            "Imagine going through life this stupid" - It makes life very exciting when you are stupid. Everything is a miracle, by some or other benevolent fairy.

            Think how stupid the average American is. Now consider that half of them are stupider than that. This simple fact explains all the conspiracies.

        8. Richard Scratcher
          Facepalm

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "Versus:

          America couldn't bare the thought of anyone else achieving this so decided to cross it off by any means necessary.

          Which of those things is more realistic? Are people really still this thick?"

          I see. So going to the moon was so impossible... that America decided to fake it... in case Russia achieved the impossible first.

          That sort of logic requires a mind that's twisted like a Möbius strip!

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            That sort of logic requires a mind that's twisted like a Möbius strip!

            That's part of the 'proof' the flat-earthers were right. So rather than the Eath being flat, it's really a Möbius strip. That explains how it's possible to 'orbit' the Earth, and why when NASA did that, it didn't have to censor the very suprised looking turtle out of the 'live' feeds.

            Netflix had an interesting doc about the Flat Earthers, including their attempts at proof. Like disproving the Earth's curvature using a laser and some math. Strange people.

            But in the anniversary spirit, news last night showed a Soyuz being rolled out ready to send the next crew up to the ISS tomorrow. For me, a neat demonstration of the different approaches wrt going direct to the Moon (or Mars) vs to orbit & then ferry flights. The Soyuz looked tiny compared to the Saturn V. Or maybe TV screens were just smaller then..

            1. John Savard Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              If someone in Sydney and someone in Perth put their sundials on a webcam, and then someone drove from Sydney to Perth, measuring the distance travelled, that would prove the Earth couldn't be a disk with the North Pole at the center - and alll the other shapes for a flat Earth have even worse problems.

              1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                You could even repeat Eratosthenes's calculation of the earth's circumference in c. 100 BCE, and I can't think of a more sensible reason to drive from Sydney to Perth.

                1. STOP_FORTH
                  Happy

                  Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                  Add in a trip from Sydney to Brisbane and you could prove the earth isn't a cylinder either!

                  1. Ken 16 Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                    Hit every bar you see along the way and you can prove it's not flat by the way you keep falling over and wobbling from side to side.

                2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                  "You could even repeat Eratosthenes's calculation of the earth's circumference in c. 100 BCE"

                  That depended on two locations separated north to south, not east to west.

                  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
                    Happy

                    Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                    Bah, details!

              2. Mage Silver badge

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                The Flat Earth thing was a Victorian invented conspiracy for political reasons. In the previous few thousand years no-one with any serious interest in Astronomy (or even Astrology) even suggested it.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Meh

                  Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                  "The Flat Earth thing was a Victorian invented conspiracy for political reasons"

                  when was the Victorian age again? Didn't Columbus in 1492 try to prove 'round earth' followed by Magellan in 1519 (who's remaining crew actually went all the way around - apparently Magellan himself got k8illed along the way), and this all happened 300+ years earlier?

                  I think your history timeline is a bit messed up...

                  1. John Miles

                    Re: Didn't Columbus in 1492 try to prove 'round earth'

                    I believe Columbus thought the Earth was smaller and thus he could sail the other way to Asia - people just thought he'd run out of supplies well before he got to Asia. He insisted what he found in the Americas was part of Asian continent - see Wiki Entry Christopher Columbus

                    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                      Exactly

                      People thought that Columbus was crazy sailing out into the vast unknown that was the Atlantic ocean when you could get to India perfectly adequately by the traditional coast-hugging method. That they were perhaps overly cautious doesn't mean they were afraid of falling off the edge of the world – the dangers of the open ocean are very real even today.

                  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                    "I think your history timeline is a bit messed up"

                    For such a conspiracy theory to be invented there's a l east a semantic argument it must have been already established by evidence to be false and the existence of such evidence is clearly no impediment to the theory to be adhered to . If it can be adhered to in such circumstances it can also be invented.

              3. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                Wouldn't work, the Flat Earthers deny the Southern Hemisphere exists. All the Australians are paid actors, apparently.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                  "All the Australians are paid actors, apparently."

                  A lot of them seem to be.

                  1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                    Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                    In that case where's my cheque. And why the hell don't I look like Hugh Jackman or Heath Ledger.

                  2. OssianScotland Bronze badge

                    Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                    And the remainder are "experts" in something or other

              4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

                that would prove the Earth couldn't be a disk with the North Pole at the center

                The Netflix doc ended with a simpler experiment. So the flat earthers bought a visible laser, a target and decided on a 'flat' bit of land between the two. So a flat earth would show the laser spot at the same height as the emitter, ergo no curvature, thus flat! Naturally this wasn't the result & left the believers pondering why their experiment failed*.

                But such is the power of faith vs science and attempts to 'explain' observations that conflict with your faith. Think my favourite is being at sea, and seeing a ship sinking over the horizon. Water forms a flat surface, so how can this be? Ok, so GRACE showed the sea isn't level in even more interesting ways..

                And being a photographer, the moon conspiracies interest me, ie the lighting used on set.. Which if you're used to being down here on Earth kinda looks 'wrong**', but then we have an atmosphere and the Moon obviously doesn't. Our simple hunter's brains are fairly good at spotting 'tricks' like that, in my case in movies or TV shows where sets are supposedly lit by natural light, yet actor's faces somehow have their own independent light source. Somehow, I doubt I'll be shooting lunar landscapes, even if it might include free Hassleblads :)

                * Obvious answer is wave/particle duality. If photons have mass, they'll follow a ballistic trajectory, which means they'll hit the target lower.. No, wait...

                ** Also why it wasn't a fake. Pretty much every SF movie has spacesuit helments with lights shining on the astronaut's faces. NASA didn't do this for.. obvious reasons, ergo the landings weren't shot by a Hollywood person.

            2. herman Silver badge

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              It is tiny, since it isn't going to the moon. The space station is in LEO and only about 400 km up. The moon is every so slightly further and harder to catch up with.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            "America couldn't bare" - Prudishness is one of the problems I have with America. The Croatian beaches are so much nicer thanks to all the bare boobies.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

              The boobies are bare because the Germans have taken all the towels to put on the deckchairs.

        9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: It's absolutely farcical that people still believe they went.

          And the world is flat and you will fall off if you try to sail West from Europe.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: It's absolutely farcical that people still believe they went.

            Don't be silly, of course you don't. You just catch up with Bilbo...

        10. hplasm Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "Are people really still this thick?"

          Yes. Yes you are.

        11. This post has been deleted by its author

        12. AIBailey Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          It's absolutely farcical that people still believe that humans can fly in planes.

          Even if you ignore the many, many issues with navigation and so forth. Think about the distances involved of flying a small object to another relatively small location, over a distance of 3000 km. Plus all of the inherent risks. I mean, there are situations on Earth where car drivers can't make it from A to B or drive along a road straight over a distance of a few miles, whilst on the ground.

          ... and yet we do fly.

          Seriously AC, just try looking beyond your own nose and read up on the facts. And by facts, I mean from reputable scientific sources, not from YouTube.

        13. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Wait, you didn't forget your medication. You don't have access to it because you escaped from the locked ward! Don't worry. Just don't move and wait wherever you are right now. Help will soon arrive. And it's all going to be fine.

          1. mark4155

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            Hey a bit naughty implying mental health issues. Do the decent thing and remove the post.

        14. Zebo-the-Fat

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          At the height of the cold war, the Russians tracked Apollo every inch of the way to the Moon, any fakery would have Pravda screaming huge headlines about it. We can still detect the laser retro reflectors left on the surface, Pictures of the landing sites and tracks of the later Lunar rovers have been seen by a recent Lunar orbiter. Also with over 400,000 engineers and technicians involved how can you expect them ALL to keep a secret like that for 50 years???

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            In fact the Russians flew Lunar 15 over the landing site before it crashed into the moon and they needed data from Jodrell Bank to track their own mission.

        15. John Savard Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          No, it is not. The so-called evidence for a lunar landing hoax has been demolished many times.

        16. Michael Maxwell

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "Are people really still this thick?" Someone is.

        17. mark4155

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          I assume the only one upvote is your own. Though please could you explain who put reflective panels on the lunar surface that are still used today for accurate earth to moon distance calc? I'm terribly sorry but I have to tell you that the it wasn't the man in the moon...

        18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "America couldn't bare the thought "

          Are you claiming to have the naked truth?

        19. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "Which of those things is more realistic? Are people really still this thick?"

          a) the first one (doing something hard and succeeding) is more correct. it was done with guts, guile, and innovation. The tech that came ouf of this program, such as integrated circuits and freeze-dried food, was pretty much a leap forward spawned by that innovation. We could've had an extra decade or two in there before everyone had a personal computer, as one example.

          b) As for 'are people really still this thick', apparently so, Mr. Pot. Just take a look in this mirror and you'll see what I mean.

          /me does a rendition of the ending of a 'Private SNAFU' cartoon, when our main character sees himself in a mirror as the back end of a horse, and they play this specific snarky music segment as a kind of leitmotif. I think it's supposed to go 'S... N A, F, U'

        20. Ghostman

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          A few questions about the "fake moon landing".

          !) Where was it filmed?

          2) Who filmed it? Name, address where I can interview him.

          3) Where is the outtake reel?

          4) How many people we eliminated to keep the hoax contained?

          5) How is it that people who claim knowledge of it are not still being eliminated?

          6) If everyone was eliminated, how did the story get out?

          7) three mantras evidence, evidence, evidence.

        21. GerryMC

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          *Someone * is being a bit thick here. Not the regular readers however.

        22. Esme

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          AC, there's this little thing called radio. The location of a transmitter can be pinponted by trinagulation quite readily, as resistance fighters in WW2 sometimes found out the hard way. The Russians would nt hav ehesitated a moment to call the Americans oiyt on it if they didnt see radio signals from a source near the earth go all the way to the moon and back.

          How thick can people be not to realise that? Eh?

          (There's also the little matter of a laser reflector left on the moon by Apollo astronauts which is STILL in use to check the distance to the moon, I believe).

        23. Chris Parsons

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          Hey, Mr Not at all Thick...it's bear, not bare.

    4. adam 40 Bronze badge

      Re: The most expensive conspiracy theory in history

      ... and in the photo in the article, the flag's shadow is going in the wrong direction.....

      1. Patrician

        Re: The most expensive conspiracy theory in history

        No it's not, it's the same as all the other shadows and is in alignment with the astronauts shadow, therefore cannot be seen as a separate shadow.

      2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: The most expensive conspiracy theory in history

        Rubbish. Are you really too blind to see that the shadow on the left foreground isn't in-line with the flagpole and clearly ends to the left of its foot, and so is nothing to do with the flag or its flagpole.

        All the Apollo photos are here: go to http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html and click on "Apollo 11" in the group below the "Apollo Image Gallery" boxed header.

        The photo heading the El Reg article is AS11-40-5875 on that web page - go and look at it at a decent resolution. If you look carefully enough you can see that the very narrow shadow of the flagpole goes past Aldrin's right side and extends off the right edge of the photo - its quite hard to see but its there.

        The obvious shadow on the left of the picture is cast by the solar wind experiment that Aldrin had just set up. Photo AS11-40-5872 shows him setting it up.

        The photo that makes all this clear is a frame from a 16mm movie camera that was left running in the LM - photo AP11FR11, which shows:

        • Aldrin saluting the flag
        • the flag and its shadow alongside him
        • the shadow of the solar wind experiment to the right of Aldrin and the flag, half obscured by a thruster that also appears black because its in the LM shadow
        • Armstrong a few metres away taking photo AS11-40-5875

        1. Michael Maxwell

          Re: The most expensive conspiracy theory in history

          Also, the flagpole appears to be about an inch (a couple centimeters) in diameter, while that other shadow is easily six inches (15 cm or so) wide. And the light is coming from the wrong direction for that width to be a shadow effect. (Also, I can't imagine why everything else would have shadows pointing one way, and the flag another way, even with studio lighting.)

    5. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      Totally wrong! Vietnam easily wins the dick-swinging contest. Here are the numbers to show that, as well as costs of some other well-known large UK projects.

      The entire Space Race program from Mercury through Apollo cost a lot less than most people think it did: $28 billion overall, but :

      • From 1959 through 1972, NASA's entire budget was just 2.2% of the US Government's annual spend
      • The space program only accounted for about half of NASA's budget

      By comparison, and after adjusting for inflation:

      • The US Interstate highway system cost 376% as much as the full Apollo project. It was built after WW2. Up until then the only reasonably quick way to cross America was by train or, after the mid-30s, to fly - if you had the cash. Construction started in 1956 and was completed in 1992
      • Vietnam cost 516% as much as the full Apollo project.
      • The F-22 Raptor project cost half as much as the full Apollo project - and I bet the F35 program makes the F-22 cost look like small change.

      Apollo Program Cost: An Investment in Space Worth Retrying? has more detail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        Who cares what it cost, it was awesome !

        If they hadn't done it the money would have been wasted on some pork barrel project or a wall.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "If they hadn't done it the money would have been wasted on some pork barrel project"

          that part is true, for sure. Politicians need to spend OUR money to STAY IN POWER.

          I'd rather buy rockets. And walls.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          "If they hadn't done it the money would have been wasted on some pork barrel project or a wall."

          Most of NASA is a pork barrel project. Think how much they could do if they didn't keep getting new Presidential Directives or have to build stuff or sites all over the USA just because they need the vote or support of some senator with hands on the purse strings.

      2. tfb Silver badge

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        I did these sums in 2011. All figures in 2011 dollars (so inflated appropriately).

        Apollo cost something like $200 billion. The direct costs of the US involvement in Afghanistan after 2001 were $416 billion by 2011

        For the cost of the war in Afghanistan we we could have run two Apollo programmes.

        For the costs of the combined Iraq & Afghanistan wars (as of 2017), we could have run twelve.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          So if only Apollo had cost 13 times as much, millions of lives might have been saved?

          1. tfb Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

            I think they could have saved all those lives by just not deciding to wade into Iraq & Afghanistan with no serious plan at all about what to do when they inevitably won the military part of the operation in short order.

            Indeed, if people had actually learnt from Apollo, the most important lesson would probably have been

            Have a plan. Have a plan for what happens if that plan goes wrong. Have a plan for what happens if that plan goes wrong (and go as far as you can down this recursion). And be competent to spot things going wrong and execute these plans in real-time.

            Instead the fashionable approach is

            Make no plan at all, it will be fine. Blame someone else when it is not fine.

            This is why we're all fucked: we did not actually learn anything from Apollo (or: we did, but we've forgotten.)

      3. Doctor Evil
        Black Helicopters

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        "Vietnam cost 516% as much as the full Apollo project."

        Oh yeah, but look at all the great music we got out of it: "... I ain't no fortunate son!", "Four dead in Ohio", "Where have all the flowers gone?", "We gotta get outa this place, if it's the last thing we ever do".

        And the movies: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. [...] It smells like ... victory!"

        Totally worth it.

        (for once -- a use for the helicopters icon)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vietnam cost 516% as much as the full Apollo project.

        And which juxtaposition, along with the date, reminds me of this fragment of lyrics:

        "And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon "

    6. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      AC, did you forget your medication again?!

    7. tfb Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      You know what, if I knew who you were I would be really tempted to do what Buzz Aldrin did to some other conspiratard.

      Just fuck off.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

        It's not as if he's calling you a liar.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

          ...and a coward.

          It was a fairly foolish statement to make to the face of an experienced Air Force pilot with 66 combat sorties over Korea, regardless of his feelings regarding Apollo...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      All moon landing conspiracy theorists should watch this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6MOnehCOUw

    9. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

      Teflon: You're welcome

      Digital Watches: You're welcome

      LSI chip fabbery: You're Welcome

      Sub miniature communications infrastructure: You're welcome

      GPS: You're welcome

      Worldwide communications: You're welcome

      The Weather Channel: You're welcome

      Fuel Cells: You're welcome

      All stuff that "fell out" of the search for the High Frontier.

  5. LDS Silver badge

    Adventure vs. science

    Achievements like the lunar landing have the appeal of pure adventure (despite being a very organize technological and scientific programs), while rovers and probes have not - despite being very advanced science. Inevitably, the average person is far more attracted by the former - as we can see from the many PR stunts of people attempting to achieve far less far less scientific and technological ones - but still reach a wide audience because of their "adventurous" appeal.

    Far fewer will be excited by the details in images of Tombaugh Regio from Pluto shot by New Horizon.

    1. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Adventure vs. science

      This is true. But the taxpayer, right now, is in no mood to pay a lot of money just to feel good when the first astronaut lands on Mars.

      The solution is to have a plan for space with clear benefits for humanity. O'Neill space colonies involved such a plan - use lunar materials to build space habitats, and with that investment, make a great number of solar power satellites.

  6. mantavani
    Pint

    25 seconds of fuel

    I thought Bob Carlton stopped his watch at 18 seconds of fuel remaining?

    1. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: 25 seconds of fuel

      Post-flight analysis indicated there was about 45 seconds fuel remaining. I believe the discrepancy comes from where the fuel sensor was located. As the LM was tilted slightly, this read as less fuel than was actually available.

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: 25 seconds of fuel

        This came up in another thread, but yes. There was fuel sloshing in the LEM, which made the low fuel sensor read early. This was fixed in later LEMs by adding (more) baffles in the tank.

        1. Vector

          Re: 25 seconds of fuel

          My ex-wife's grandfather was one of the LEM engine designers. She said he sat glued to the TV during the landing with his own stopwatch. According to him, it was more like 13 seconds. Of course, sitting watching the event on television millions of miles away, his timing with the stopwatch might not have been the most accurate.

          1. tfb Silver badge

            Re: 25 seconds of fuel

            Yes, at the time the best estimate was something like 13 seconds. Only later they worked out that there was actually more fuel.

            1. Dom 3

              Re: 25 seconds of fuel

              The ALSJ has:

              102:45:31 Duke: 30 seconds (until the 'Bingo' call).

              102:45:40 Aldrin: Contact Light.

              The "Bingo" moment was the last possible moment for an abort. An abort required five seconds of full thrust from the descent module before it could jettisoned and the ascent module take over. At hover thrust those five seconds would be an additional twenty seconds. So the Commander *could* have decided to carry on past the bingo point if he was within seconds of touch down.

  7. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Armstrong the LEM pilot

    Armstrong had been a vocal advocate of the "flying bedstead" LLRV trainer, racking up the most flying hours, even crashing one and narrowly escaping with his life. https://www.historynet.com/lunar-landing-research-vehicle-nasas-flying-bedstead.htm

    Turned out to be a handy skill to have.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

      Theoretically the LM could land on it's own, and/or the astronauts could alter it's pre-programmed landing site whilst in flight.

      However, all the LM pilots were, well, pilots, so all of them skipped the fully automatic landing (program 65) and instead ran the semi-manual program (66) which allowed them to hand-pilot it down (in reality the AGC took care of the descent rate, so really they were basically just flying it in 2D).

      If you're near MIT tomorrow (20th) you can go watch a simulated landing being performed using a real, working AGC (a repaired ground test prototype) to do all the calculations, info. Alas, I'm on the wrong side of the pond.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

        Theoretically, the LEM *could* land on its own.

        As it was doing in the case of Apollo 11...

        ...until the LM Pilot noticed it was headed right for a field of boulders, and took manual control, thereby justifying the cost of his trip.

        // I *am* near MIT, but I'm also at work...:-(

        // but I did see the video #21.

        // well done those AGC restorers!

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

        Armstrong was not the Lunar Module Pilot. He was the Commander.

        Aldrin was the Pilot.

        Yes, even if Armstrong did the flying. This is recorded history. RTAM*.

        And Tomorrow I'm going to a dinner dance at the Cradle of Aviation Museum where we will all attempt to evoke the 60s ambiance of the original Great Night in the company of real astronauts.

        Scheduled Guests:

        - Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7

        - Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9

        - Fred Haise, Apollo 13

        - Charlie Duke, Apollo 16

        - Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17

        - Gerry Griffin, Apollo Flight Director

        - Milt Windler, Apollo Flight Director

        A veritable EVA of Astronauts.

        *Read The Apollo Manual.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

        Yes, automation CAN be amazing. The first fully automated passenger aircraft flight including take off and landing (with no passengers) I think was 1973. However today even with so called "AI", true automated travel on Earth doesn't exist. It's easier in space, especially when the probe doesn't have to land and has no humans.

        The V1 and V2 were automated, though construction killed about 10x as many as died at the targets. They weren't as effective as manually piloted planes or U-boats.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

      We got a Pet at school in 78 or 79 which had a lunar module landing "simulation" on it. If I remember correctly it didn't have graphics, just a read-out of altitude, descent rate and fuel and you had to enter burn time for the landing rockets. It was bloody hard not to crash. The Rhino game was much more fun.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

        @Headly_Grange: "We got a Pet at school in 78 or 79 which had a lunar module landing "simulation" on it."

        I recall that was one of the suggestions for programs in the manual. We each wrote our own version ... most popular was the one that read keypresses directly.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

          "I recall that was one of the suggestions for programs in the manual. We each wrote our own version ... most popular was the one that read keypresses directly."

          Was that PEEK(515)? Looooong time ago :-)

          (and ISTR it changed between models of PET, to something similar but different, maybe PEEK(151)?)

      2. PhilBuk

        Re: Armstrong the LEM pilot

        There was a lunar landing program for my HP-33e calculator. Never managed to land safely. It also lost the program when you turned it off - should have waited a couple of months and bought the 33c.

  8. mantavani

    Cost

    Can we dismiss this idea that the Apollo project was some kind of uber-expensive white elephant? During the Apollo era, NASA accounted for 4% of the US federal budget (today it's more like 0.5%). The whole shebang cost around $25 billion (without adjusting for inflation), which amounted to a massive stimulus package that the entire economy benefited from. Aside from the fantastic technological advances in every field from integrated circuits to materials science that happened along the way (NASA document more than 6,000 discrete innovations from smoke detectors to microwaves as a result of the space programme), for every dollar spent on Apollo the US economy benefited to the tune of about seven dollars.

    For comparison, you could have had five and a bit Apollo programmes for one single Vietnam war.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Cost

      There seems to be this curious idea that money spent on space is 'wasted', as if dollar bills are being bundled up and launched into orbit. It seems to be forgotten somehow that each and every dollar spent in the Apollo programme (and since) was spent right here on Earth, and most if not all of it in America.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Cost

        Around $150Bn in 2019 $

        Compared to $1.6T (with another $1T in future costs) for bring peace, freedom and a love of baseball to Afghanistan and Iraq

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

          Aren't they rather better at Cricket than Baseball?

          To me, they were a revalation in the World Cup. They were really unlucky not to win a few games.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

            Baseball was first played in England so it's another of our exports. Cricket is a proper game , which is why we kept it for the empire. ;-)

            1. OssianScotland Bronze badge
              Flame

              Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

              Baseball is still played in England, although it is normally called rounders

              (duck and cover)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

            >Aren't they rather better at Cricket than Baseball?

            Hence the need to 'liberate' them

            Wait till the idiot-in-chief discovers India's attitude to Big Macs

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

              "Wait till the idiot-in-chief discovers India's attitude to Big Macs"

              As a descendant of immigrants, maybe the US should "send him back?"

            2. John Savard Silver badge

              Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

              They're Muslims, not Hindus, in Afghanistan, so beef is perfectly halal for them.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Afghanistan and Baseball

            "Aren't they rather better at Cricket than Baseball?"

            At least one of them was. Clicky-Baa!

            (You need to be a UK resident of the correct age and time period to get that one, and it's far from being PC these days :-))

      2. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Cost

        Money spent on the space program does stay on the Earth. However, money spent on the space program, or on anything else, leaves the hands or bank account of the one who spent it. If the goods and services bought with it and received in return aren't worth that money, it was wasted. And if going to space serves no useful or rational purpose, then the cost of it is a waste of money.

        Even if, because the parts going in to the rocket and the capsule were made in the U.S.A., it's only really a waste of time and effort, and not of foreign exchange.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cost

          Its just Keynesian economics. dig a hole, go into space, doesn't matter which. The reductionist view that its money 'wasted' presumably applies to art, music, sport, fashion, literature, cinema etc etc. Basically anything beyond flint knapping and rooting for grubs.

  9. iron Silver badge

    "elements important for sustainability, such as the Gateway, get scaled back"

    Gateway is not required for sustainability. It is only required to force NASA to use SLS and keep the pork rolling.

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Joke

      They found a new element? Shouldn't it be Gatewayium or something?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Gatewayium sounds heavy and tough. Like maybe it could be used at border crossing points in a big wall.

  10. Scott Broukell
    Meh

    Future Headline

    It's 2026 and what do you know, 'President for Life' Donald Trump is true to his word and has "sent humans back to the moon", only this time it's thousands of latino folk, people of an indeterminate darker complexion, folk of Middle Eastern origin and a lot of journalists. All of whom were located within the borders of the USA and were deemed to pose a threat to national security. They're all now housed in the brand new Lunar ICE complex, which was completed just six months ago. Daily flights now operate between the Mega-Shuttle space-port in Florida and the new Lunar Trump space-port located in the Mare Fæġer-Feahs on the moon.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: The moon

      and all have to stay at the newly completed Trump Towers at $500 per night per bed. Working parties are sent out each day to build the latest of his twenty lunar golf courses.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Future Headline

      the Mega-Shuttle space-port in Florida

      Sadly, the spaceport is only accessible at low tide.

    3. tfb Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Future Headline

      I think he will be "sending humans to the moon" in much the sense they were once "sent to live in the east".

      (yes, Godwin.)

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: sent to live in the east

        There was an SF story where a guy wakes up in the rubble of a hospital in the future. Eventually he's involved in the space program to relocate "excess population". They fake the letters to the friends and relatives that haven't left yet. The cars have fake "power" noise, but I can't remember the title or author. Annoying.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: sent to live in the east

          The Marching Morons. The dumb have took over the planet by outbreeding the smart ones and the smart ones have to work their arses off to keep things going.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Future Headline

      However what if they take over the moon base?

      'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Future Headline

      "They're all now housed in the brand new Lunar ICE complex, which was completed just six months ago. "

      Is the AI computer that runs the place called Mycroft?

    6. Anonymousse Coward

      Re: Future Headline

      Look, I don't like the guy either but don't conjure up scary bed time stories that would lead our country into all out civil war. If this bozo tried to do anything like that I'm reasonably sure that it wouldn't end well for him.

      Absurd statement aside, what is even the point of your post?

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Apollo 11 _was_ NASA's greatest achievement

    But landing on a comet was fucking impressive as well, not to mention a great advance for Science.

    All of the Voyager stuff has brought - and is still bringing in - indispensable information that increases our knowledge of our Solar System and of the Universe in general.

    NASA can be proud of many things, and can regret some decisions, but for the sheer exhilaration of daring and success, nothing will beat the Apollo program before a long time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apollo 11 _was_ NASA's greatest achievement

      Rosetta was ESA. Both NASA and ESA can be proud.

  12. DougS Silver badge

    Kennedy's assassination is probably the only reason we walked on the Moon

    PBS had a really good documentary about this recently. Shortly before his death he was already having to fight congress (which his own party controlled!) for sufficient funds, and NASA was already running into delays that threatened to push the timetable past the end of the decade.

    The reason we were able to maintain a national will to go the Moon and spend what needed to be spent to do so, was primarily in his memory. If not for that, and especially if he'd been voted out in 1964, it would have ended up on the scrap heap along with every other president since Reagan (I don't think he talked about going to the Moon or Mars) who at one time or another wanted to channel their inner Kennedy and announce another "moonshot". They've all disappeared under the waves within a couple years, to the point where when Obama and now Trump talk about it, people just laugh because we know damn well nothing will happen. Even if funds to make it happen are budgeted for the first year, as costs begin to rise it is an easy cut to make to allow funding another budget initiative while claiming "no increase of deficit" for that initiative.

    For all the complaints people had about Nixon as a president, the words he said when we landed on the Moon were as historic and noble as the words Kennedy uttered when he made going to the Moon a national priority. Imagine if Trump was president when that had happened, he'd first take credit for it claiming "no other president could have done this", then complain about the Mueller investigation and democrats, and for a finishing touch add a little white supremacy by praising Von Braun and "say what you want about Hitler, he knew rockets, if it weren't for the Nazis we couldn't have gone to the Moon. They did a lot of bad things, but they did a lot of good things too. There were very fine people - on both sides - of WW II".

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Kennedy's assassination is probably the only reason we walked on the Moon

      Well, also the Cold War. The Russians photographed the far side. They did eventually manage landers. It's possible that despite their early lead in the Space Race that they were nowhere near ready to send humans.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Kennedy's assassination is probably the only reason we walked on the Moon

        Try again, the Russians looked seriously at sending cosmonauts to the moon but concluded it was too dangerous and developed a lead in rovers and sample return missions. The Russians have their own moon rocks and regolith. Returned by semi-autonomous robots.

        The Americans were considered by the Russians to be very cavalier with the lives of their astronauts.

        You have to slough off the Cold War spectacles which says the Soviets cared nothing for their people. Sting needn't have bothered, the Russians adore their children and spoil them rotten.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Kennedy's assassination is probably the only reason we walked on the Moon

      "every other president since Reagan (I don't think he talked about going to the Moon or Mars)"

      His big boondoggle was SDI or Star Wars. Although I think it's been suggested that was all (or mainly) a bluff to bankrupt the USSR.

      1. Sanguma

        Re: Kennedy's assassination is probably the only reason we walked on the Moon - SDI?

        Don't you mean Budget Defense Initiative (BDI)? Arthur C. Clarke wrote a rather sharp little story on Reagan's Budget Defense Initiative. (Arthur C. Clarke knew his stuff: he couldn't see any justification or purpose for the SDI apart from keeping up the Pentagon's budget.)

  13. _LC_ Bronze badge
    Stop

    Compare your picture to the ones from the Chinese moon landing

    Compare your picture to the ones from the Chinese moon landing, please. You can see clearly that there's something wrong. Only one of those two sets were taken on our Moon, obviously. ;-)

    1. MrReal Bronze badge

      Re: Compare your picture to the ones from the Chinese moon landing

      In the NASA images all the rocks and landscapes appear to be weathered as if on earth.

      1. _LC_ Bronze badge

        Re: Compare your picture to the ones from the Chinese moon landing

        What's more important, is that the lunar surface is pierced by the impact of gazillion asteroids in all sizes. You can clearly see this in the pictures from the Chinese. You cannot, in the photos from the US moonings.

  14. John Savard Silver badge

    The Title of the Article

    Actually, the title of the article explains why we haven't gone back to the Moon.

    The public thinks of manned space missions in terms of a "flags and footprints" mission. It may feel good and be exciting. It may impress other countries. But what's the point?

    Yes, a human explorer can do more for science than a robot, but at a much higher cost.

    There has to be a good reason for going to space. Gerard O'Neill's book, "The High Frontier" outlined one scenario - use lunar materials to build space habitats, and then use that infrastructure to build solar power satellites.

    Breeder reactors, followed by fusion power, would seem simpler. But solar power satellites would avoid a proliferation risk.

    Without a good reason to go to space, I doubt it will happen.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: The Title of the Article

      The public thinks of manned space missions in terms of a "flags and footprints" mission. It may feel good and be exciting. It may impress other countries. But what's the point?

      I think there are many. It's part of human nature to want to explore and find out "What's over that hill?". So for the Moon, we've partially answered that question, ie we've been there, and so have our robots. But there are other reasons.

      So we keep being told about "Peak X" and resource depletion. There are zillions of tonnes of resources floating above our heads. OK, so there's a huge cost involved in exploitation, or maybe there's some stuff on the Moon or in asteroids that might be worth the cost, eg theories about Tritium abundance. That would be handy if we crack fusion using aneutronic designs, which currently use Tritium fuel. And fusion doesn't really have any proliferation risk (other than economic), and is much less risky than trying to beam gigawatts of energy down to Earth from solar power sats*.

      Or Greta says "We're Doomed", and "Extinction Rebellion" echo that cry. So having an off-world life raft would seem like a sensible idea. And establishing a lunar, or large space station would cost less than we've already spent on going back to the pre-Industrial era and building windmills..

      It might be possible to fabricate useful stuff in space due to microgravity. Or harder, eg my favorite lunarcrete. On Earth, simple to pour concrete into forms and wait for it to cure. A bit more challenging on the Moon, but there's always vacuum forming. Or we might be able to use cheap solar power to produce high-energy stuff in space. Something that's getting increasingly expensive on Earth due to the rush to build those windmills..

      Or it's just one of those stretch goals to promote STEM and get kids excited about the future. Personally I'd like to see it done as a multi-national project, but that would mean bureaucracy and fraud. It may have been the US that put a man (ok, person) on the Moon, but like he said, that was just one small, first step for mankind (ok, personkind).

      * It's.. strange that Greens support the idea of beaming renewable power down from space given their usual electrosensitiveness & FUD. The concept seems.. reasonable, but there are obviously quite a few risks in trying to beam any significant power down from orbit. Or benefits. Hey, Iran, check out our new MASER!

  15. OssianScotland Bronze badge

    Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

    Earth is the cradle of mankind, but man cannot live in a cradle forever.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

      Problem being, we're only but babies. We still can't walk, but we're already destroying the cradle.

  16. finlaythethinker

    Just look at the footprint

    The Smithsonian Institute has on display what is claimed to be the actual spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong while he supposedly walked on the Moon., and is said to be complete in every detail including the boots he wore. I still remain puzzled as to how a smooth soled boot (at the Smithsonian) managed to leave a ribbed sole boot imprint on the Moon.

    1. OssianScotland Bronze badge

      Re: Just look at the footprint

      ISTR they jettisoned a fair bit of equipment shortly before lunar takeoff, including the backpacks and over-boots, but obviously needed the suits on while they did so.

      https://airandspace.si.edu/multimedia-gallery/4857640jpg - you can clearly see the ribbed soles

  17. Cincinnataroo

    The text reveals some of the problems

    When I think of the exploration of the cosmos I see soo much that is astonishingly good and getting better.

    Spirit, Opportunity, Juno, Hyabasu2, Cassini, Huygens, Super Kamiokande, Messenger, Hubble and on and on.

    They're robotic extensions of remarkable teams who guide them from earth and by their autonomous programming.

    A lot of science being done and, I believe, at a really good price. A price that cannot be matched by sending organic entities with all the costs and limits of keeping their wetware going. The time will come for sending out carbon based lifeforms. I feel it's not now. In the process of doing that we currently prevent too many other things from happening.

    Which brings us back to the Moon missions. Yep fantastic and all that, but a deliberate dead end. The pink slips were going out, I believe, when the guys were still on the moon. The populist silliness staggers the imagination.

  18. MrReal Bronze badge

    Amazing.

    After 50 years of no one able to go into the Van Allen belt all the naive sheep still believe this Dan Dare story.

    I suppose people are a little slow and haven't noticed that the best rocket motors are Russian and the only way into the ISS is via a Russian Soyuz. Both items perfected by 1969, yet NASA's first job after SaturnV was to abandon it completely. They did this because it was obsolete and had far less power (2/3rds) of that claimed.

    The NASA Shuttle was quite good, or at lest the SRBs, each SRB had 3 x the real power of an F-1. Now we're sold that the only way is via Bezos and Musk, I think the lies of the Apollo era and coming back to bite NASA.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019