Moon Dust, Rocket Engines, and NASA
by Morgan Reynolds
by Morgan Reynolds: Nerds
at the Rally
At 12:31 a.m.
central time August 6 NASA will bless us with its latest extravaganza,
a multi-billion-dollar, decade-long effort to launch a six-wheel
rover dubbed ‘Curiosity’ on the red planet 154 million miles from
home. Reading the newspaper
one morning, I was amused to learn about the Rube Goldberg "braking"
system invented to control landing on Mars. A huge parachute
is supposed to slow the craft despite an atmosphere only one percent
of the earth’s, followed by freefall, then eight rocket engines
ignite and lurch the craft out of the path of the trailing parachute
somehow previously jettisoned, followed by a second freefall episode
beginning at 66 feet altitude followed by a ‘sky crane’ lowering
the rover as it unfurls its wheels, capped off by pyrotechnic charges
that send blades to cut the nylon tethers. Oh my.
for this dubious landing system? "In theory, the rockets could
provide a gentle enough landing to finish the job. But in practice,
they would kick up such a dust
storm that it could ruin the rover." Ah yes, I agree the inevitable
dust storm would be a big problem. Engineers must design around
that. But why wasn’t a dust storm a formidable problem on July 20,
1969, the occasion of man’s "greatest technological achievement,"
landing a man on the moon and returning him safely via Apollo 11?
The moon is plenty dusty
Dust, or lack
of same, is one of many puzzles about the Apollo missions NASA showed
us over four decades ago: how the heck could there be no surface
disturbance below the lunar module (LM), no crater blown out by
the LM’s rocket engine? All six moon landings NASA "conducted"
(Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17) showed the same ‘no hole’ below
the LM. No disturbance whatever (notice no stars in the background
too?). If we trust the NASA-generated "real time" broadcast,
Neil Armstrong called the surface "fine
and powdery" and continued: "Okay. The descent engine
did not leave a crater of any size. It has about one foot clearance
on the ground. We’re essentially on a very level place here."
Click on image
to enlarge. Source: NASA
And impossible, well, impossible if the landing was real. There
was no dust on the LM support legs or leg pads either and no sign
the engine nacelle or ground below it was burned, singed or melted.
How could that happen? A 10,000 lb. thrust engine, even if throttled
back to 3,000 lb. must blow out a crater, down to bedrock for heaven’s
sake, making a landing treacherous because of virtually zero visibility
and unknown terrain exposed. The motor would generate heat of 5,000
degrees Fahrenheit and even if throttled back to, say, 3,000 d.F.,
only 1,300-2,400 d.F. is required to melt and fuse rock.
None of what we expect happened.
Despite a rocket
descent engine allegedly working hard a few feet below Armstrong
and Aldrin, incredibly, and I do mean incredibly, Apollo 11’s moon
landing was remarkably quiet
beneath the voices of astronauts and Houston control. It should
have been loud as all-get-out, around 140 dB. The engine displayed
admirable noise-vibration-harshness properties too, setting off
no shake, rattle and roll aboard the flimsy craft, no heat problem,
in fact, no problems of any kind. Oddly, Armstrong did not hover
like a helicopter pilot does during landing, despite the difficulty
of controlling an LM in a vacuum versus earth atmosphere. It was
the first time anyone had landed a LM yet reverse thrust control
went flawlessly, like everything else with Apollo. By contrast,
Armstrong was nearly killed when he could not control the LM
simulator on earth in May 1968 but for a timely ejection.
proves NASA never pulled off the moon landings back in the slide-rule
days of the 1960s. The biggest obstacle remains the lethal radiation
unprotected astronauts must encounter above low earth orbit from
three sources: the Van Allen radiation belts, galactic cosmic rays,
and solar particle events, aka sun flares. Radiation makes manned
deep space travel impossible to this day. Dr. James Van Allen, credited
with discovery of the radiation belts, knew it full well and in
1970 courageously supported U.S. Senator William Proxmire (D, WI)
and three other Senators in their attempt to eliminate NASA’s manned
space flight program.1
could have said, "One small step for man, one giant leap of
faith for mankind," injecting a note of honesty into this governmental
swindle. The moon fraud will bite the dust eventually, of that there
is no doubt, if only because it failed to sprinkle enough moon dust
out from under the Lunar Module as well as into our eyes.
- Mary Bennett
and David S. Percy, Dark
Moon: Apollo and the Whistle Blowers, 1999, pp. 310-11.
Reynolds [send him mail]
is professor of economics emeritus, Texas A&M University, and
a former chief economist in the U.S. Department of Labor. Visit
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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