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The Incredible Things NASA Did to Train Apollo Astronauts

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posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 09:09 AM

On the anniversary of the first man on the moon, and with the final space shuttle mission set to end Thursday, takes a look back at the extraordinary amount of training astronauts go through before they are mission ready.


Apollo astronauts practiced every second of their mission, even planting the flag (above), many times, indoors, outdoors, in space suits, underwater, in planes, in centrifuges, in pools, in the ocean and anywhere else NASA saw fit. They were prepared for every contingency and trained for water planned landings as well as desert and jungle survival in case their capsule missed the ocean and hit land. They learned geology, how to withstand g-forces, maneuver in low- and zero-gravity conditions, and how to drive electric rovers and land the lunar module.

Planting the Flag

Reduced Gravity Walking Simulator

Suspending a person at an angle and having them walk along a wall let them experience one-sixth of their weight, the equivalent to walking in reduced gravity on the moon. Scientists studied subjects as they walked, jumped or ran to learn about speed, fatigue limits and energy use.

Lunar Landing Research Vehicle
Neil Armstrong is going through a six-minute training flight that reached 300 feet in altitude on June 16, 1969, a month before Apollo 11 launched

This free-flying vehicle was designed to simulate landing on the moon's surface. It was built by NASA and Bell Aerosystems out of tubular aluminum with A General Electric turbofan engine with 4200 pounds of thrust. The engine needed to get the vehicle up to 1500 feet elevation and then throttled back to support five-sixths of the vehicle's weight to imitate the moon's lower gravity.

Indoor Moonscapes

Apollo astronauts spent many hours inside NASA facilities, spacesuits on, practicing every aspect of their missions in timeline run-throughs. Above, Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad (left) and Alan Bean practice documenting lunar rock samples at Kennedy Space Center in 1969.

Desert Survival Training


14 NASA astronauts pose for a group photo after completing their desert training in Nevada in January 1964. Front row: (left to right) William Anders, Walter Cunningham, Roger Chaffee, Richard Gordon and Michael Collins. Second row: (left to right) Clifton Williams, Eugene Cernan, David Scott, Donn Eisele, Russell Schweickart, Edwin Aldrin, Alan Bean, Charles Bassett and Theodore Freeman.

Source: d+Science%29&pid=1688&viewall=true

Now, I have to admit. I knew they went thru training but never to the extent that they did. I, like most, never paid attention to the back behind the scenes stuff---just the Good stuff after the launch.

But, I have a new appreciation-or greater- of NASA and what they were able to do this being started.

Now, I have to say, the old anon72 would be like: Man... see, they never left the earth etc... We never went to the moon. But, thanks to ATS and it's members... I am only 1/2 convinced. hehe

I just want to say though. After all the money we spent on NASA and getting to the Moon- I say we lef the Human race short handed by not going back. And making a base or something there. Heck, I see it as the Future of NASA. Start our Major Space Missions from a Moon base.

Anyway, be sure to check out the aritcle as there are other topics and some more great pictures. Also, some interesting links in the lower left of the aritcle.... where I am heading now

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 09:21 AM
reply to post by anon72

In an age when so little was known about space exploration and its pitfalls, every contingency had to be planned for. Everything was new and untested. Now we are no longer on that bleeding edge of exploration. Space travel, while not routine or safe, has lost its feeling of discovery for most of the population.

We have become complacent as a society regarding space travel and exploration. We need a new, bold program to capture the public's attention and focus it on the wonders of space and its possibilities. We need to reawaken that sense of wonder at exploring the unknown. We need to "go where no man has gone before..." again...

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 09:35 AM
reply to post by BomSquad

Man, excellent posting. Especially the last line....

We need to "go where no man has gone before..." again...

But, you are so right. American-maybe the world.. have become complacent. Even I was-until coming to ATS.

Which is what I like about this topic area. When you get some ATS member that KNOWS the real deal and can articulate it in their posting... you can almost feel the passion as they tell about or debate NASA/Space topics.

Again, I agree with you and thanks for saying what I was thinking. Flag if I could!

edit on 7/20/2011 by anon72 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 10:26 AM

Originally posted by BomSquad
Space travel, while not routine or safe, has lost its feeling of discovery for most of the population.

"The 'Space Age' hasn't begun yet"-Arthur C Clark at 2 minutes into this video, about project Orion which can send an 8 million ton spaceship the size of a city into deep space:

I think he's right. We aren't in a space age. Every manned flight this century hasn't left Earth orbit, and let's face it, the moon wasn't that far.

But back on the topic of the thread, the astronaut training, yes it was amazing. Some of the things in the OP are interesting but they barely scratch the surface.

Imagine what it was like to build a simulator in the 1960s. It was much more difficult to do then compared to today, yet they actually built a scale model of the moon and aimed a camera at it, instead of doing it with a computer and some monitors, like we would today. Zorgon made a post with some cool pictures of that:

Originally posted by zorgon
Langley Research Center complex

Let's start with the Moon prop... one blank moon and one curved surface with camera track

Then we need some NASA 'scientists' with airbrushes working from Lunar Orbiter images to paint the moon... OH wait! They didn't have air brushes back then... so lets use regular brushes and plaster for relief

Adjust the lighting...

Now add the camera... and don't forget the spacecraft window...

And lets add some of that sickly greenish color...

Then for the final product we run it through a TV monitor

I think that was used for astronaut training too. It's a lot of elaborate work for a simulator.
edit on 20-7-2011 by Arbitrageur because: clarification

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 11:44 AM
Wow. Thanks.

I never saw these. hmmm.

Yes, sure a lot of work for sure.

It sure seems no stone gets unturned in the NASA pre-operation phases.

And, all of that for a few trips to the moon. Just doesn't make sense to me. I am sure someone can/will make an arguement for us not going back to the moon (meaning the USA) but it would fall on deaf ears with me.

I would think by now we could be coming and going from the moon like nobody's business.

Which got me to thinking. Why haven't they sent someone back from the Space Shuttle. Or, develope a landing method so the Shuttle could land on the Moon. I would think it would not be that much of a deal-already over 1/2 way there.

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 12:54 PM

Originally posted by anon72
Which got me to thinking. Why haven't they sent someone back from the Space Shuttle. Or, develope a landing method so the Shuttle could land on the Moon.
The standard shuttle doesn't have enough fuel to make it to the moon.

But you have the cargo bay. If you filled that with fuel it could make it.

But the shuttle is too big and heavy to get back off the moon after it landed. Look at how small and light the thing was that left the moon in Apollo, and compare that to the weight of the space shuttle. It's probably not possible to do the mission with the shuttle, unless it carried some kind of small Apollo-type lander in the cargo bay and the shuttle just stayed in orbit around the Earth (see below, but kind of a moot point now that the shuttle is dead).

And it's nowhere near "halfway there" while in Earth orbit. In orbit. it's still subject to about 95% of the Earth's gravity compared to the surface, and it's less than 1% of the way there distance-wise.

This link gives more info:

the Shuttle was never designed to go to the Moon

The Shuttle is designed primarily to power its way through the atmophere to get into orbit and to glide back through the atmosphere to land on a runway. As such, it is equipped with many features that simply aren't needed for interplanetary travel (like wings, for example). These features would be nothing but dead weight during a lunar trip, and it would not be at all efficient to carry that dead weight to the Moon and back.

What might be a more feasible idea is to carry a lunar lander, orbital module, rocket booster, and any other necessary components into orbit aboard a shuttle-type vehicle, assemble them in Earth orbit, and send that vehicle on its way to the Moon. Upon completion of the lunar mission, the astronauts could then dock with the Shuttle for a return to Earth. The advantage of this approach is that the lunar vehicle wouldn't need to carry any parachutes, heat shields, or other equipment needed for a landing on the Earth's surface.

posted on Jul, 20 2011 @ 02:09 PM
reply to post by Arbitrageur

As I said, no place like ATS to get this kind of info in such a way a common layman can understand.

Thank you for the posting and the info.

Learning something everyday at ATS.

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