A couple of days ago the USA’s unmanned cargo new rocket, heading for the International Space Station blew-up a few seconds after lift-off. This is undoubtedly a technological disaster for the Americans – a slap in the face indeed that puts major question marks over their supposed supremacy in expertise, equipment, capability, and specifically in space travel.
Let it be said clearly that since the US ended its space Shuttle programme three years ago, they have become completely reliant on Russia and their rocket engines & delivery systems for the US’s space work – and indeed this latest saga also concerned the ‘privatisation’ by NASA of such space supply undertakings (and in reality this one involved using an ‘American modified’ Russian stock rocket ‘of old’ (forty years or so, and left over from Russia’s failed Moon mission which had suffered from a succession of failed dodgy engines). A bit of a silly strategy by the US now when they are at loggerheads again with the Russians, and what’s more are leading financial & political sanctions against them, wouldn’t you say?
Over half a century ago there was a so called ‘space race’ between USSR (Russia) & the United States, don’t you know? Russia took the early prizes and won the propaganda battle with successfully launching the first ‘sputnik’ satellite that amazed the World as it travelled daily round the globe in space. Russia followed it by the first animal in space, the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first spacewalk, the first Moon impact landing, the first Moon soft landing, the first probe to orbit the Moon, and probably a lot more military stuff that was kept secret – we only heard though about the successes AFTER they had happened of course (some of the failures may have had to come to light much later. Russia also established the first space station forty five years ago.
The Americans as one of the two superpowers (with Russia), were certainly trailing behind and badly losing face on the World’s publicity stage, weren’t they? So in 1961 President Kennedy decreed that the USA was going to get man to the Moon first and in the next nine years indeed. It was a quest that the Americans couldn’t be seen to fail at, wasn’t it? Indeed one that most outsiders would envisage, at that time of the ‘cold war’ that the Americans would surely stoop to any kind of skulduggery to be seen to get a pair of boots on the Moon first?
In an unbelievable blaze of media coverage including live radio & TV, America ‘made it’ in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission, and two sets of man feet were seen for the very first time to walk on the Moon. Not only did a rocket launched spacecraft successfully escape from Earth, but it had travelled over a quarter of a million miles through space unscathed to the Moon carrying three astronauts, it detached a two manned lander Lunar Module which without a prepared landing pad succeeded in dropping down onto unknown terrain without any damage, whereby the two men were easily able to disembark into an oxygen-absent atmosphere to carry out, over a couple of days, the duties they had been given. The lander, with them in it, was amazingly able then to blast of at exactly the right moment to rendezvous with the command spacecraft circling above the Moon’s surface, successfully dock with it seventy miles up and the two men without any hitch get back in. The spacecraft then of course was able to fire up engines to get it straight back to Earth, where it entered the atmosphere without any burning-up type incident, and it landed in the Pacific Ocean to a hero’s welcome. None of the astronauts had suffered radiation damage or any other harm on this epic space journey. [America had done it, the thought impossible, but with only five months before the deadline – that must have been a close call for all those in charge don’t you think?].
All this was done FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER for every major manoeuvre and under the live spotlight of the entire World, with three men’s lives at risk and where the chances of failure must have been considerable, and the consequences of that for the USA’s credibility utterly destructive, if not catastrophic. In fact since then fourteen NASA astronauts have been killed on two space flights that have suffered disintegration in flight. So why would the Americans have taken such a massive high risk gamble? Good question, and there has never been a proper answer forthcoming to that, has there?
Anyone who has been involved in military style equipment development will know that there is a long gestation time and there is no ‘quick-fix’ when things go wrong. The technology used for the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission must have been mostly a decade old, surely (though NASA would have been at the leading edge of equipment procurement of course) – so still 1950s stuff in reality? One also has to recall the circumstances in regard of computers in those days – a commercial computer with the same capability as today’s ‘smart phone’ would not only have filled an average size house (and weighed a lot to boot), but would also have needed considerable electrical power to run it (miniaturisation & low power consumption was still a long way off in those days). As well, remember that programming such complex computers was in those early times a bit of a slog or even a nightmare really, so that would have been a mountainous challenge for the mission operatives as well, don’t you think? Computers must though have been an essential, critical, and indeed the most important element in the Moon mission success surely?
Only two years before the successful Moon walk mission, three American astronauts from Apollo 1 were killed on the ground in a launch rehearsal accident caused by the pure oxygen atmosphere being used in the module at that stage. It is nothing short of a miracle that NASA was able to complete a redesign and still proceed to the achievements of Apollo 11 only a couple of years later, wouldn’t you say?
There have of course been some NASA very public disasters since the unrivalled success of Apollo 11 – the complete loss of Challenger on launch seven years later, followed by the re-entry destruction of Columbia twenty odd years after Apollo 11. Space travel has never been anything but a risky escapade has it?
In the three years after Apollo 11 America can claim five more accomplished Moon man landings with Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, so twelve men have been on the moon, without trauma. There has been NO further attempt though to land man or woman on the Moon for more than forty years despite the exponential explosional progress in computers & technology and dramatic cost reductions in all such aspects. The Americans haven’t gone back there (could that really be because they didn’t need to continue a distraction from the Vietnam War?), nor the Russians, nor the Chinese, nor in fact ANYBODY. Why is that we wonder?
It will perhaps come as no surprise to the sceptics of the world, that it has been widely claimed for forty years that the Apollo Moon landings were in fact faked by NASA, so the public were hoodwinked & swindled. We all know WHY the Americans would want the prestige generated, to claim they had cracked manned Moon landings if they couldn’t actually do it, or do it in time, but would they really have got away with it for so long, with so many people having to be ‘in the know’, and wouldn’t Russia have been able to expose the scam (or were they complicit in ending a race they themselves could no longer afford or win?)?
The allegations (fired by mass media speculation) have been rebutted with hard evidence by NASA and third parties, but the Conspiracists have left their mark nevertheless, and even in America a sizeable population think that Moon landings never happened – perhaps say ten percent? [However just remember that some (perhaps a hundred flat earthers?) still support the archaic flat Earth belief don’t they? [And what’s more the Flat Earth Society was an early supporter of the argument of hoax!].
[If it WAS a fix, nobody is going to own up now are they? The conspiracists will never be able to prove any of the multitude of proposals they present, will they? So YOU will just have to make up your own mind – on a mere hunch!].