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Thread: NOVA Apollo 8

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    NOVA Apollo 8

    NOVA Apollo 8

    Good show last night about the mission that first circled the moon. When it was thought Russia was preparing to orbit a man around the moon the rush was on to do it first. It was probly part probilities and serendipity that it succeeded.

    After the cabin fire on the pad a review showed many flaws in the command capsule. It had to be redesigned from scratch.

    The fight computer may have been the first small digital embedded computer. A keypad and LED display.

    Navigation was by inertial navigation. A gyro compass and accel;ermoters. Position zeroed on the launch pad.

    To deal with drift in the system they took a sextant kind of sight deriving an angle between the Erath’s diameter and a known star for corrections to the system. Pretty ingenious.

    There was no redundancy. If the computer failed there were people in the control room ready to do manual burn computations.

    The first idea was two buttons. Push one to go to the moon and one to return. Astronauts objected to the lack of control. There were 17 thrusters that had to be coordinated plus the engine. They came up with a joystick type device where like in a fly by wire jet the computer figured out the vectors and burns.

    It was all new, none of it done before. What was interesting was there a number of women in key technical positions that were unheralded. Would have been something to be part of that.

    Considering the Apollo program it would seem coming up with a national energy system modernized with current technology should be easy.

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    It was a truly incredible achievement. Especially for that time...or even now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    It was a truly incredible achievement. Especially for that time...or even now.
    The show made me a bit teary eyed.

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    Tom Hanks, after starring in the movie "Apollo 13", learned the depth of what a national treasure the program was, in terms of story. Apollo 13 just scratched the surface of the whole story and he was intent on getting it all out there.
    Tom partnered with HBO to create a mini series that would tell the entire tale of the Apollo missions. It was called "From Earth to the Moon". It was HBO's first exclusive mini series. It was so successful (due to being fantastically well done, and backed by HBO), that HBO decided that mini series were a good thing to do. Think about how many HBO programs that exist today, due to the success of that first one.
    I own the box set of that program. It is so amazingly good...

    Much of the story is told from the perspective of Grumman, who won the contract to work with NASA on building the lander. They had no idea how to do it at first. There is a scene early on with a lead Engineer outside in the building's courtyard bouncing a ball against a wall to help him think out a problem with the weight of the craft. The Program Manager comes outside to speak with him... during the conversation one of them says, "remember when 5 years sounded like a long time?" and the other says, "remember when it only was going to cost 1 billion dollars?"... and with that, he threw the ball too high and it went onto the roof of the building.... the camera pans out and you see the roof.... with 100's of lost balls sitting on it.

    The weight of the craft... so later on an Engineer asks, "Do they [the astronauts] really need to see outside"? "of course they do, how can they land if they can't see where they are going"? meanwhile, the camera is fixed on the little model of the craft, with this huge windshield on it. the glass was contributing way too much weight. "Do they really need to sit"? Everyone looks at each other... and then a time laps sequence of the model being taken apart, and put back together with a tiny windshield... 1/10th the size.
    The solution was that if they stand up against the little window, they will have the same line of sight than if they were sitting looking out a bigger window. It was genius.. at the time.

    I can quote so many awesome scenes of Engineering genius and adventurous "firsts" depicted in that series... it was SOOOOOOO good.

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