cosmic dave's 32 questions
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1. Sceptics say there are no stars in the black sky, despite zero atmosphere to obscure the view. The first man in Space, Yuri Gagarin, pronounced the stars to be "astonishingly brilliant". See the official NASA pictures above that I have reproduced that show 'stars' in the sky, as viewed from the lunar surface.

This is not what skeptics say. Skeptics don't say there aren't any stars visible in space. They say there should be no stars visible from the surface of the moon, for reasons given here. Gagarin saw stars because he spent 45 minutes on the night side of earth, out of the sun. That was plenty of time for his eyes to adjust to the darkness as they would at night on earth.

The "official photos" Dave reproduces showing alleged stars are the low-quality JSC scans that have white specks everywhere as a result of the hurried scanning process.

In any case, this is an example of the tautological reasoning from this conspiracist. He considers it suspicious both that no stars are visible, and that some stars are visible. He can't make up his mind.

2. The pure oxygen atmosphere in the module would have melted the Hasselblad's camera covering and produced poisonous gases. Why weren't the astronauts affected?

This is a paraphrase of the argument given in Bennett and Percy's Dark Moon, and it is actually reproduced incorrectly. Bennett and Percy do not claim the leatherette cover would have "melted" but rather that it would have "outgassed" in the low-pressure environment, producing annoying and/or toxic fumes. And this is likely true, and so the leatherette covers were removed from the Hasselblad cameras supplied to Apollo.

The astronauts were not affected by this environment because they pre-breathed with oxygen to purge the nitrogen out of their bloodstreams prior to doffing their helmets inside the spacecraft.

3. There should have been a substantial crater blasted out under the LEM's 10,000 pound thrust rocket. Sceptics would have you believe that the engines only had the power to blow the dust from underneath the LEM as it landed. If this is true, how did Armstrong create that famous boot print if all the dust had been blown away?

The question of a crater under the LM is discussed here.

Photos taken of the lunar surface directly beneath the descent engine show it to have been swept and scoured. However, there is no justification for arguing that the dust for any appreciable radius around the engine nozzle would have all been blown away. Recall that the foot of the ladder is some fifteen feet (five meters) away from the exhaust nozzle.

The photograph sometimes published as "the first footprint on the moon" is actually a photo of a compression test done by Aldrin some distance away from the LM. There is no photograph of the first footprint on the lunar surface.

4. When the LEMs were supposedly leaving the Moon, they should have produced a large bright exhaust flame from the rocket propellant. Instead, zero exhaust. (I have turned this one around and have found evidence of a flame on one ascent of the LEM... just to prove the sceptics wrong!)

The question of ascent engine plume visibility is covered here.

Contrary to having "turned the tables" on skeptics, Dave has once again tried to have his cake and eat it too. He says the lack of flame is suspicious, and simultaneously the presence of the flame is suspicious. He should decide whether a flame is visible or not so that he can get straight what is supposed to be suspicious.

5. Footprints are the result of weight displacing air or moisture from between particles of dirt, dust, or sand. The astronauts left distinct footprints all over the place.

This theory of impressibility is, to say the least, very odd. Since we can point to differences in impressibility of various particulates under identical conditions on earth (i.e., dry sand versus dry flour) it stands to reason that the shape of the particulate grain has something to say about how impressible it is.

In fact, the impressibility of the lunar dust derives from the relatively uneroded shape of the grains. Under their own weight -- quite insubstantial in lunar gravity -- they "settle" into a loosely packed layer at the very surface. When compressed by an astronaut's footstep, they are artificially compacted into a much tighter matrix where the individual grains interlock.

6. The Apollo 11 TV pictures were lousy, yet the broadcast quality magically became fine on the five subsequent missions.

The reasons for the reduced quality of Apollo 11 television are given here.

In fact, this is quite good evidence of the progressive nature of Apollo technology. Television coverage was not strictly required in order to accomplish the landing on time, and so high-quality television for lunar EVA was deferred in its development until later in the program.

7. In most Apollo photos, there is a clear line of definition between the rough foreground and the smooth background.

This is a natural feature of contour on the lunar surface. It is not always possible to distinguish by color or shading the crests of intervening hills.

8. Why did so many NASA Moonscape photos have non parallel shadows? (sceptics will tell you because there is two sources of light on the Moon - the Sun and the Earth... That maybe the case, but the shadows would still fall in the same direction, not two or three different angles.

Skeptics say no such thing. In fact, shadows in sunlight should be expected to appear parallel in photography only under very special circumstances. In all other cases they will appear to converge or diverge. See here.

9. Why did one of the stage prop rocks have a capital "C" on it and a 'C' on the ground in front of it?

This is covered here.

10. How did the fibreglass whip antenna on the Gemini 6A capsule survive the tremendous heat of atmospheric re-entry?

It wasn't extended until after splashdown. It was in its retracted position during re-entry.

11. In Ron Howard's 1995 science fiction movie, Apollo 13, the astronauts lose electrical power and begin worrying about freezing to death. In reality, of course, the relentless bombardment of the Sun's rays would rapidly have overheated the vehicle to lethal temperatures with no atmosphere into which to dump the heat build up.

No. The thermodynamics of the Apollo CSM were well known. No atmosphere is needed in order to reject heat. Spacecraft reject heat via radiation, either through specifically engineered sublimator and radiator systems or through direct radiation through their skins.

The Apollo spacecraft skins reflected away most of the sunlight that struck them. It was actually necessary to use the heat from the electronics to keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature. With those electronics turned off, as for Apollo 13, the spacecraft would indeed be expected to radiate away most of its heat.

12. Who would dare risk using the LEM on the Moon when it was never, ever tested successfully? Would you send a relative to the Moon in a vehicle that had never been driven before?

The lunar module was tested successfully numerous times in vacuum chambers to verify its pressure integrity. It was tested in space on Apollos 5, 9, and 10 prior to the first landing. Every aircraft or spacecraft has a first flight test, and it's always a white-knuckle flight, but to say the LM was untested is absolutely false.

13. Instead of being able to jump at least ten feet high in "one sixth" gravity, the highest jump was about nineteen inches.

See here. David Percy has indirectly acknowledged this footage.

14. Even though slow motion photography was able to give a fairly convincing appearance of very low gravity, it could not disguise the fact that the astronauts travelled no further between steps than they would have on Earth.

Whether filming in slow motion gives a convincing appearance of diminished gravity is a matter of opinion. It does not, for example, render horizontal motion correctly.

The astronauts most frequently used normal-sized strides, but there are plenty of examples of longer strides. The question is why that should be expected in all cases. You must still retain control no matter how much gravity there is. There is still inertia -- and lots of it -- to be dealt with. The astronauts reported requiring lots of "baby steps" to stop or change direction.

15. If the Rover buggy had actually been moving in one-sixth gravity, then it would have required a twenty foot width in order not to have flipped over on nearly every turn. The Rover had the same width as ordinary small cars.

This argument is based on a hypothetical study conducted in about 1960. The vehicle in that study was to have a three-foot (one-meter) ground clearance. A taller vehicle necessarily requires a wider stride in order to maintain stability.

Since the Apollo lunar rover was designed for only a 14-inch ground clearance, it does not require as wide a stride as proposed. In fact, the Apollo rover has more lateral stability than the theoretical vehicle.

16. An astrophysicist who has worked for NASA writes that it takes two meters of shielding to protect against medium solar flares and that heavy ones give out tens of thousands of rem in a few hours. Why didn't the astronauts on Apollo 14 and 16 die after exposure to this immense amount of radiation?

Mauldin is here speaking of long-term interstellar travel, not short trips to the moon. Those are entirely different problems, and the conspiracists don't have the scientific understanding to know the difference. Interstellar radiation is stronger than cislunar radiation because the sun's solar wind pressure keeps out harmful radiation from interstellar space. Mauldin's scenario was a generation ship, which would subject people to interstellar radiation for their entire lives.

The general discussion of radiation and the solar environment is here. None of these extremely powerful solar events occurred during any of the missions. The events experienced by Apollos 14 and 16 were quite mild.

Further, the plans for the Soviet lunar spacecraft do not include two meters of shielding.

17. The fabric space suits had a crotch to shoulder zipper. There should have been fast leakage of air since even a pinhole deflates a tire in short order.

The fabric outer layer is not the layer that retains air pressure. The inner pressure garment assembly is what retains the air. And although leakage was inevitable, it was replaced by oxygen from the PLSS to maintain pressure.

Rubber flaps behind the zippers make a tight seal. The zipper is there for mechanical fastening alone. The flaps behind the zipper retain the pressure, being held in place to do so by the zipper.

18. The astronauts in these "pressurized" suits were easily able to bend their fingers, wrists, elbows, and knees at 5.2 p.s.i. and yet a boxer's 4 p.s.i. speed bag is virtually unbendable. The guys would have looked like balloon men if the suits had actually been pressurized.

There is vast difference between a teardrop-shaped speed bag packed tightly in leather, and a space suit specifically engineered for flexibility.

Constant-volume "bellows" joints are provided at the shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip. Cable retention systems provided additional tension to counteract stiffness. A retention layer prevented it from bulging. Knobby knuckles in the inner neoprene pressure gloves (not the bulky outer gauntlets) allowed for finger dexterity.

19. How did the astronauts leave the LEM? in the documentary 'Paper Moon' The host measures a replica of the LEM at The Space Center in Houston, what he finds is that the 'official' measurements released by NASA are bogus and that the astronauts could not have got out of the LEM...

James Collier actually measured the hatch in various mockups, some of which were faithful replicas and some were not. He did not actually measure an LM hatch. His measurements of LM-2 are largely invalid since LM-2 was never meant to have a human crew. His measurements of LTA-8A are valid, but since Collier never measures or test fits a suit, there is no evidentiary value in his opinion. Collier simply measures the hatch at 32 inches square and then declares that's too narrow without any further argument or evidence.

20. The water sourceair conditioner backpacks should have produced frequent explosive vapor discharges. They never did.

No, they shouldn't have. Nickel porous plate sublimators are among the most common devices used in space engineering.

21. During the Apollo 14 flag setup ceremony, the flag would not stop fluttering.

... until the astronauts let go of the flagpole and waiting for the elastic oscillations to stop.

22. With a more than two second signal transmission round trip, how did a camera pan upward to track the departure of the Apollo 16 LEM?

Because the liftoff time on the synchronized mission clocks was well known, and Ed Fendell simply tilted the camera upward two seconds prior to the designated time.

23. Why did NASA's administrator resigned just days before the first Apollo mission?

It's unclear what is meant by "the first Apollo mission." If Apollo 11 is meant, then James Webb resigned months before its launch, in September 1968. This is because a Republican administration was likely to take office after the elections in November 1968, and Webb was a Democratic appointee. It is common for the appointees of one political party to resign their posts when the opposing party takes office.

24. Another overlooked intriguing fact is that NASA launched the TETR-A satellite just months before the first lunar mission. The proclaimed purpose was to simulate transmissions coming from the moon so that the Houston ground crews (all those employees sitting behind computer screens at Mission Control) could "rehearse" the first moon landing. In other words, though NASA claimed that the satellite crashed shortly before the first lunar mission (a misinformation lie), its real purpose was to relay voice, fuel consumption, altitude, and telemetry data as if the transmissions were coming from an Apollo spacecraft as it neared the moon. Very few NASA employees knew the truth because they believed that the computer and television data they were receiving was the genuine article. Merely a hundred or so knew what was really going on; not tens of thousands as it might first appear.

This is cribbed from Bart Sibrel's web site. It is covered here.

25. In 1998, the Space Shuttle flew to one of its highest altitudes ever, three hundred and fifty miles, hundreds of miles below merely the beginning of the Van Allen Radiation Belts. Inside of their shielding, superior to that which the Apollo astronauts possessed, the shuttle astronauts reported being able to "see" the radiation with their eyes closed penetrating their shielding as well as the retinas of their closed eyes. For a dental x-ray on Earth which lasts 1/100th of a second we wear a 1/4 inch lead vest. Imagine what it would be like to endure several hours of radiation that you can see with your eyes closed from hundreds of miles away with 1/8 of an inch of aluminium shielding!

It is not true that the space shuttle's radiation protection is superior to that of the Apollo capsules. The Apollo spacecraft were designed to operate in and beyond the Van Allen belts. The space shuttle was designed to operate solely within their protection.

The ability to "see" the effects of radiation (i.e., particle impacts on the retina) is not any quantitative indication of the amount of damaging radiation to which they may have been exposed. The astronauts wore radiation dosimeters which gave a much more usable figure.

The lead vest worn during dental x-rays is for legal reasons, not because you would suffer ill effects because of it. Keep in mind that while the vest protects your blood-forming organs -- the most susceptible to radiation -- the x-ray machine is pointed rather directly at your head, exposing it to the brunt of the emitted x-rays. The practice of wearing a lead vest essentially allows you to undergo as many dental x-rays as you need without worrying about cumulative exposure.

26. The Apollo 1 fire of January 27, 1967, killed what would have been the first crew to walk on the Moon just days after the commander, Gus Grissom, held an unapproved press conference complaining that they were at least ten years, not two, from reaching the Moon. The dead man's own son, who is a seasoned pilot himself, has in his possession forensic evidence personally retrieved from the charred spacecraft (that the government has tried to destroy on two or more occasions).

Grissom and crew were understandably upset about the state of the command module simulator, but one man's opinion of the timetable shouldn't necessarily take precedence over those who had more information available. In fact, the problems discovered during Apollo 1 had more to do with test procedures than with flight procedures and engineering. In short, just because Grissom, in a moment of frustration, gave an estimate of ten years doesn't mean that's the One True Estimate.

Scott Grissom has evidence of a missing page from a logbook, and a piece of metal that looks like a shim. There are a number of hypotheses that fit those data points. Scott Grissom, as a matter of fact, does not believe that the lunar landings were falsified.

Command Module 012 has been in the custody of the United States government since early 1967. If they had really wanted to destroy it, it wouldn't have been too difficult.

27. CNN issued the following report, "The radiation belts surrounding Earth may be more dangerous for astronauts than previously believed (like when they supposedly went through them thirty years ago to reach the Moon.) The phenomenon known as the 'Van Allen Belts' can spawn (newly discovered) 'Killer Electrons' that can dramatically affect the astronauts' health."

The comment in parenthesis is not in the original report. It has been added by conspiracists and it changes the meaning.

"More dangerous for astronauts" in this case is interpreted relative to ISS astronauts who spend months on end near the Van Allen belts going in and out of the Southern Magnetic Anomaly. This is a much more dangerous circumstance of radiation exposure than a simple round-trip passage through it.

Conspiracists interpret words like "more dangerous" and "hazardous" as if they somehow mean "instantly deadly", which they do not. The conspiracists cannot provide any quantitative argument for how much they think the Van Allen belts would result in a human absorbed dose. They simply use "scare" words to conjure up a sort of Radiation Boogey Man.

In fact the ISS has been fitted with shielding to protect astronauts from these "killer electrons". Predictably they are not huge thicknesses of lead, but four-inch thick sheets of polyethylene. That is the proper material for such shielding.

28. In 1969 computer chips had not been invented. The maximum computer memory was 256k, and this was housed in a large air conditioned building. In 2002 a top of the range computer requires at least 64 Mb of memory to run a simulated Moon landing, and that does not include the memory required to take off again once landed. The alleged computer on board Apollo 11 had 32k of memory. That's the equivalent of a simple calculator.

See here. The Apollo Guidance Computer was not intended to be a general purpose computer. It was designed to fulfill its specific mission, and did so.

29. If debris from the Apollo missions was left on the Moon, then it would be visible today through a powerful telescope, however no such debris can be seen. The Clementine probe that recently maps the Moons surface failed to show any Apollo artefacts left by Man during the missions. Where did the Moon Buggy and base of the LEM go?

Neither the Hubble Space Telescope nor the Clementine probe has the required optical resolution to see objects on the lunar surface as small as the Apollo hardware.

30. In the year 2002 NASA does not have the technology to land any man, or woman on the Moon, and return them safely to Earth.

This does not prove it did not have the technology to do it in 1969. These are not skills and equipment on the same level as riding a bike or building a birdhouse. These are design and construction techniques which are highly specialized, and if not needed are not undertaken. Ask an automotive engineer today to build a buggy wheel. The fact that he can't do it doesn't mean that automotive engineers weren't once able to build buggy wheels.

NASA's mission has changed. It has also been drastically scaled back. If there were a mandate to maintain and use such technology, there is plenty of design and manufacturing capability to undertake it. Space exploration simply requires different skills and materials, and must operate on a different set of resources.

31. Film evidence has recently been uncovered of a mislabelled, unedited, behind-the-scenes video film, dated by NASA three days after they left for the moon. It shows the crew of Apollo 11 staging part of their photography. The film evidence is shown in the video "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon!".

The footage as shown in Bart Sibrel's video is cut up and rendered incoherent, and the voiceover makes it difficult to hear what the astronauts are saying. Consulting the transcripts and the unedited video, it is clear that the astronauts are practicing for their upcoming live telecast, for which they had not been able to rehearse ahead of time.

The interpretation that Sibrel puts on it -- one of preparing to falsify the telecast -- is simply his interpretation. It is not anything which is made plain in the video itself.

32. Why did ALL of the blueprints and plans for the Lunar Module and Moon Buggy get destroyed if this was one of History's greatest accomplishments?

The aren't all destroyed. Many of the detailed plans for the Apollo hardware are on microfilm at the United States National Archives.

Unfortunately the design documentation for something as complicated as a space ship or the lunar rover is not something that just comfortably fits in a file cabinet. It typically occupies several hundred thousand cubic feet. Grumman engineers were, at one point, producing more than 4,000 drawings per week. In addition, each unit produced requires installation, service, and modification documentation for each individual part on the unit.

Congress provided no funding for the storage and archive of the detailed design documentation. The private companies who had custody of it did not have the funds nor the desire to archive materials that required an inconveniently large building in which to house it. They are for-profit companies, not museums. Thus the detailed documentation was regretfully discarded while the basic documentation was preserved.

There is a very large amount of information available on the design and construction of these spacecraft, both in print and online.

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