Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Donald Waid
Planet Earth:Tales from other Planets P2
Planet Earth:Tales from other Planets P3
Planet Earth:Tales from other Planets P4
Planet Earth:Tales from other Planets P5
Planet Earth:Tales from other Planets P6
I show this episode of "Planet Earth" because it involves the Saturn V and the Apollo program's discoveries and rock collecting; still, the furthest Humans have ever explored on their own(without just robots). Note: there's now 2 Planet Earth video series; the most recent is good photography and not bad intellectually; but, it unfortunatelly uses the same title and is not as intellectual as the Planet Earth video series I grew up with.
Anyways, Geologists knew that the rocks of the Earth have generally been turned over; we don't have the original crust; and they suspected that the Moon holds clues and has rocks that go back much further to the beginning of our solar system. We couldn't get there till around 1968 with the Saturn V.
The Saturn V is still the most powerfull rocket ever built by mankind(Nasa engineers recently made a rocket, turned it on braced just to prove they can build a bigger more powerfull rocket; i guess there's been some recent public outcry that we havn't gotten back to the moon; Nasa's solution, just do a earth based demonstration).
The Saturn V rocket was built to a program design decided in the early 1960s. Seems that Werner Von Braun and his rocket team wanted a multi rocket launch that would send up the spaceship that would be assembled in orbit; but, others wanted to make one gigantic rocket. Werner Von Braun's plan would have been more adaptable to missions to other planets; the one giant rocket would just barelly get a man to land on the moon; the selected the one giant rocket. See, for every pound of the manned spaceship that would orbit the moon and land on the moon, you'd need a certain large proportion more(that would be directly proportional) mass and energy of fuel in the lower rocket stages. This is why Nasa and Saturn V rocket engineers say the apollo spacecraft is such a great technological feat; it stuffs all the navigational, environmental and the ability to withstand the twenty thousand miles per hour descent back into Earth's atmosphere and so on; but, the point is that the program design led to this just barelly being able to land on the Moon. Recently, lots of Apollo program and Apollo 11 landing videos like to point out how if it wasn't for the great piloting of Neil Armstrong to land the Eagle with just thirty seconds left of fuel; if they had ran out, they couldn't have launched back up into lunar orbit much less get back to Earth. See, Neil Armstrong noticed that were they wanted to land was too rocky, so he had to power up a little bit, and he only had less than a minute of fuel left to decide whereelse to land it; if he doesn't decide, he crash lands somewhere, or if he does and doesn't have any fuel left, well . . . ; but, the point that few make is that this was all a result of the mission design decided for no other reason than to land a man on the moon before "this decade was out."
Getting back to the point about how every pound not scrapped off the apollo spacecraft at the very top of the Satun V means that much more fuel and metal at the very bottom or first stage rocket. As it turned out, the first stage rocket design was finalized and in production before people realised this; this greatly constrained the second stage of the Satun V; it's universally recognized that the second stage is the masterpiece of the Saturn V. It is the liquid oxygen/hydrogen stage of the rocket because of this; they didn't want to use liquid oxygen/hydrogen because it's so technologically hard to do. Rocket engineers like to point out that they needed to do some pretty sophisticated materials science to make the blunt nose solution of the apollo reentry craft work. The materials science for the second stage is even more astounding; they had to find a material that didn't turn brittle when in contact with liquid oxygen/hydrogen; i'd have to look it up for the exact name, but they found a novel material that actually gets harder with the colder temperatures of liquid oxygen/hydrogen! This is not just sheet metal or steel! What's more, the second stage engineers(see my Harrison Storms post just below this post) had to scrape away all the weight they could to make room for bigger payloads above. I'm still not sure I understand the internal structural elements of the second stage; but, they describe it as an arch solution. They had to invent novel machine tools in clean rooms to make sure that all weight possible was scraped off; what's more they x-rayed and sonar scanned every inch of the fabricated structural elements of the second stage to make sure there were no structural faults. They found they could not just assemble it horizontally, but they had to do so vertically; they had to make assembly procedures for the second stage that had to be followed to the letter even in the Saturn V assembly building; this was a delicate instrument!
Nasa engineers statistically analysed every bolt; they mapped out where every bolt came from all the way back to the mine the material came from.
When the Saturn V rocket was on the launch pad, hugh liquid oxygen/hydrogen pumps had to fuel the Saturn V in a precise scheduled and calculated manor right before launch. I can't seem to find a picture of these pumps with a quick google search; but, I recall seeing these.
The parachutes turn out to be a novel technological solution as well, they needed strong material and very largue parachutes for the reentry spacecraft; and, they needed to stuff it in a very small volume; they manged to use a vacuum to suck out all the air from between the parachute material fibers; the result was the parachutes were stuffed into a very small volume at such a density as hard wood.
People like to say that one of the side benefits of the Apollo space program was that we got to see our home world planet Earth from space crystal clear.
and of course,
1969: Apollo 11 (NASA)
The Incredible Journey of Apollo 12
Apollo 13 - Houston, We've Got A Problem
Apollo 14: Mission to Fra Mauro 1971 NASA 3rd Moon Landing Alan Shepard
Apollo 15 "In the Mountains of the Moon" - NASA Space Program & Moon Landings
Apollo 16 "Nothing So Hidden" - NASA Space Program & Moon Landings Documentary
Apollo 17 "On The Shoulders of Giants" - NASA Space Program & Moon Landings
People are also eager that we should go to space without all our past baggage. People fear this group or that group going and spreading their false ideas. Well, this is kind of what I've tried to do in this blog; to make a unified factual/logical understanding of everything. But, as Jacob Bronowski says, "These people are all anxious that we shall behave well, and yet that we shall not question how we behave."
My effort here of course can only outline and point the way. It almost certainly will not be listened to by the time the nano-era will come. I think I've shown this is possible; i've argued my viewpoint is not so bad even if there's some harsh realities humanity must face; i believe humanity should question and put their religions on the shelf and let them collect dust. But, getting to some science/tech news for the day . . .
A month or so ago, both the dna and protein folding pathways to the nano-era made pretty good breakthroughs.
protein folding becomes reliable enough to make arbitrary nanomechanical parts and probably enzyme like chemical reaction specificity
Dna-nanomanufacturing goes from a given nanostructure in weeks, to days/hours, to now minutes!
Moving beyond Paul Rothemund's dna-origami(which improved on Ned Seemans pioneering efforts)
Dna-Nanomanufacturing has added chemical reactivity to its abilities Dna-nanomanufacturing has always had one of the key properties for nanomanufacturing - self-assembly; now, it had the other key property; chemical reactivity.
The protein folding and the dna-nanoblocks that go beyond Paul Rothemund's "dna-origami" was announced about a month ago. The dna-nanomanufacturing of arbitrary nanomechanical structures with Paul Rothemund's single strand origami approach was announced a few days ago. Bottom line, I'd expect the ability to make non-Drexler daimondoid nanomanufacturing nanofactories in two months or less; they can design, build and test nanomachines in a single day now! Dna-nanomanufacturing can remake the world in two years or so; lots of people will probably work on that; the Drexler crowd will not waste time; they will work to bootstrap from dna-nanomanufacturing to a more general capability nanomanufacturing ability(probably combining dna-nanomanufacturing and protein folding and artifical proteins; i'm forgetting the words). And, then they'll use that to bootstrap to daimondoid nanomanufacturing. However the future happens, the future is now.
There's also great work in quantum computers. But, i won't link there right now.