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On the anniversary of the first man on the moon, and with the final space shuttle mission set to end Thursday, Wired.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We need to "go where no man has gone before..." again...
Originally posted by BomSquad
Space travel, while not routine or safe, has lost its feeling of discovery for most of the population.
I think that was used for astronaut training too. It's a lot of elaborate work for a simulator.
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
The standard shuttle doesn't have enough fuel to make it to the moon.
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 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.