China on the Moon?

It is good to hear recently that the Chinese Lunar Rover has finally landed on the Lunar surface. Although a past article of mine has dismissed the good reason for exploring our Moon, it does (I admit) excite me.

Maybe this is because the great American/Russian Space Race in the 60’s took over the entire worlds space enthusiasts and general public attention over a mere decade. This China project really was commercially and economically sound to send a machine up before any decision is taken to return with us mere human species. It speaks in my opinion of a Nation who has the money to do it , but has perhaps restrained itself in throwing money yet into, (let’s be honest an unknown amount of currency and possible public offence in doing it) Not only that, but a vast area of the countries in this World that we live in folks fall into the following categories …Bankrupt, Near Bankrupt, Believe they are not Bankrupt, but in reality are, Not bankrupt yet, but living the dream as if it will pass them by, and finally, More than enough in the Government Bank, yet poverty in those countries appears wide-spread.

Americans themselves would have known that the Billions of dollars invested into a potential eight or more Moon landings , which turned into a successful six, could have cost a lot of political heads what with Vietnam going on at the same time. But the Lunar Surface shines out like a welcoming beacon to us every night somewhere throughout the world we live in, Perhaps it is this shining light that we all  need to balance the tides etc of our small Earth is just what makes it universally lived. After all, trying to get somewhere which seems impossible certainly has an appeal to our natural curiosity. Scientists, biologists , astronomers, physics and engineering boffins through the ages have all pushed the boundaries that reveal so much to mankind. We do like a challenge or two, or in the case of NASA it us more like six or seven if we take our minds back to each major space  travel project..Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo Soyuz Test Project,International Space Station, Shuttle, Mars, and many other sideline ventures.

One important thing from all this recent research and venture back to the moon that has come to potentially positive light is this..A NASA orbiting probe designed for the moon has revealed that most of the early flags planted by astronauts on those early missions in are still flying. Wow! this apparently is despite scientists predicting they would not be able to survive what they call extreme temperatures and radiation over a period of many years. I already predict the usual sound of  Apollo 11 moon landing conspiracy folks shoes now becoming more like softer slippers perhaps ? However as. this is an American probe pinpointing these flags it might just Herald those who never believed Neil and Buzz walked on the moon for the first time in 1969 to stand firm in their original beliefs. Either way, it ain’t gonna change my mind one tiny bit, Apollo 11 flag photographed flying or not!  Please let’s not insult the memory of Neil Armstrong’s achievement any more. Let us also too, not insult both those other two surviving brave astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.It also casts doubt on five other successful missions and one near tragic other (Apollo 13).

So here we are at the start of a new year 2014. What are we likely to expect with space travel in a world that seems so lacking in financial stability? I predict the Moon will once again entice our curiosity, after all we gave been concentrating on only non deeper space missions since the mid 1970,s. Everything will change when the opportunities for the public to travel into space becomes more economic and not reserved for Billionaires only. If we are already pulling our hair out about” over the top “health and safety regulations, what on Earth (literally) will Governments have to have in place for space travel ?What will space travellers Passports look like, will there be Custom and outer space Border agencies?  and I would like to see if and when Insurance companies come up with a special Travel insurance plan. Finally former NASA Shuttle pilots get ready with your CV, for you may be the only pilots with the experience and guts that the public in reality will trust to take them from ” Infinity and beyond” Gary Royston Cole..  January 2014

Posted on January 4th, 2014. No Comments »

NEIL ARMSTRONG ,AVIATOR, ASTRONAUT, MOONWALKER

Neil Armstrong, all American hero, Navy, Pilot, Test Pilot, X15 Test Pilot, Astronaut and first human being to leave a footprint on the surface of the Moon. Looking back at Armstrong’s lengthy and successful career it is not surprising at all that he was chosen for the most famous aviation mission ever planned. His love of enginering technology and of course flying some of the fastest aircraft known to man set the path for a long decade of planning towards the Moon. Missions Mercury and Gemini were training grounds for Astronauts like Armstrong allowing them to demonstrate that they really did have the right stuff for the work ahead.

Astronaut training for Armstrong would have been gruelling even for a man of his giftings, it was certainly not for the faint hearted. Astronauts of that era gave themselves little over 50 % chance of returning from a mission for the simple reason that their training was to aim for something so audacious that had never been  achieved before. NASA soon recognised his talent, cool character and tenacity that would  be needed after the 1967 Apollo 1 training tragedy which cost Gus Grissom , Roger Chaffee and Ed White their lives .NASA had found a new man to take that first step on the Lunar surface! A sturdy talented group of Astronauts were  trained to pave the way towards the Moon with Apollo’s  7-10 taking them on daring missions that would test every single technical requirement to get two men on to the Moon’s surface. Armstrong was fortunate that his crew included Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, both men of exceptional quality for the job. Not only did they need to reach the Moon , they had to rely on one man (Michael Collins ) to get them back. These past solo pilots now had to take team work to a whole new level.

And so it was in the heat of July 1969 a huge Saturn 5 rocket took off with 3 heroic Astronauts with Neil Armstrong as their Commander. NASA held their breath as they reached the point of deploying the Lunar module with Armstromg and Aldrin heading towards the sea of tranquility. The Lunar Module edged towards the Lunar surface extremely low on fuel trying to find a safe place to land on a surface that no one had ever landed before. Armstrong took the decision to correctly continue until safety was assured whilst NASA crew remained tense and uncertain. Meanwhile a brave Michael Collins sat alone in deep space waiting for a signal from Armstrong and Aldrin that they had landed ok. This was not a time for Armstrong to be nervous, but to rather keep his cool using his 20 years of Navy and Nasa training , and together with Aldrin they achieved it as the following dialouge confirms:

July 20th 1969 the worlds eyes are focused on 10 years of NASA’s preparation . Buzz aldrin converses probably the most famous conversation with his Commander Neil Armstrong:

Aldrin…”35 degree, 35 degrees/750 feet.Coming down at 23

Armstrong..“Okay”

Aldrin..“700 feet.21 down, 33 degrees

Armstrong..“Pretty rocky area”

Aldrin.. “600 feet , down at 19″

Aldrin.. “540 feet. down at …30.down at 15″ Okay you’re pegged on horizontal velocity”

Armstrong…“270 (feet) .Okay, hows the fuel?

Aldrin..“Take it down”

Armstrong..“Okay, Here’s a…looks like a good area here”

Aldrin..“I got the shadow out there”

Armstrong..“I got a good spot”

Aldrin..“100 feet.Three and a half down,nine forward. Five per cent.Quantity light”

Aldrin..“Okay. 75 feet.And its looking good.Down a half, six forward”

Capcom: “60 seconds”

Aldrin..40 feet, down two and a half. Picking up some dust”

CapCom..“30 seconds”

Aldrin..“Drifting forward just a little bit; thats good”

Aldrin..“Contact light”

Armstrong..“Shutdown”

Aldrin..“Okay engine stop”

CapCom.. “We copy you down , Eagle”

Armstrong..“Engine arm is off. Houston.Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”

A brief conversation lasting several minutes reminds us of the importance of all those inspired declarations that were made by those involved with The Lunar project. We must remember that ” Imagination is nutritious food to every visionaries appetite”. Armstrong , Aldrin and Collins each had to have a strong appetite for imagination, for what they dreamt whilst growing up would surely hold them firm over several decades that would follow. There is in my opinion nothing better than a focused imagination, a hunger for hard work, a powerful ear to listen, and a brave instinct to make decisions at the most vital of times.

Faith in other people is a wonderful gift, that enables ground breaking events to take place. When it all comes together successfully, it is surprisingly so, not the time then to take a breather and relax. Over 10 years of success, failure, hard toil, sacrifice and even fear had been with Armstrong Aldrin and Collins during the Apollo Lunar build-up. Walking on the Lunar surface is more than just a statement of “We made it to the Moon”, it should inspire each of us all to believe that the things we dream about can actually happen. Neil Armstrong when he began walking down the ladder of the Lunar Module to take those famous first steps speaks these words to Cap Com. “I’m at the foot of the ladder. The LM fooftpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained as you get close to it. Its almost like a powder. The ground mass is very fine. I’m going to step of the LM now”.

Now he would have to get himself ready for those first Lunar surface words, ” That’s one small step for man;one giant leap for mankind”. Having got to his “Great gig in the sky” he goes on to say: “The surface is fine and powdery, I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boot. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles” .

So we see that his footprint stamped on the Moon for all eternity signifies almost a statement of man’s permanency on that desolute lonely planet. It was indeed a giant step for mankind for back and forth we would go for another five missions stamping our claim on a planet that cannot give us anything back in return, except for the knowledge that we gained in getting there. So Mr Armstrong I salute you for reminding us that its part of our human make-up to dream, to have visions and goals that though sometimes they may seem way out of this planet, they are actually very close to the hearts of all mankind.

(c) gary royston cole (August 27th 2012)

Posted on August 27th, 2012. No Comments »

Apollo 13 Forty year Anniversary

Astronauts Crew of Apollo 13 :Jim Lovell…Jack Swigert…Fred Haise

 

NASA’s Apollo 13 was slated to be the United States’ third lunar landing mission. It launched April 11, 1970, at 2:13 p.m. EST from Launch Pad 39A in Florida. From left to right are mission commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot John Swigert and lunar module pilot Fred W. Haise. The mission was aborted after the service module oxygen tank ruptured. Still, the mission was classified as a “successful failure” because of the experience gained in rescuing the crew. As the crew finished a 49-minute TV broadcast showing how comfortably they lived and worked in weightlessness on the evening of April 13, Lovell finished the interview stating, “This is the crew of Apollo 13 wishing everybody there a nice evening, and we’re just about ready to close out our inspection of Aquarius and get back for a pleasant evening in Odyssey. Good night.” Nine minutes later, oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing the No. 1 tank to also fail. The command module’s normal supply of electricity, light and water was lost. The crew was about 200,000 miles from Earth. After an intensive investigation, the Apollo 13 Accident Review Board identified the cause of the explosion. In 1965, the command mudule had undergone many improvements that included raising the permissible voltage to the heaters in the oxygen tanks from 28 to 65 volts DC. Unfortunately, the thermostatic switches on these heaters weren’t modified to suit the change. During one final test on the launch pad, the heaters were on for a long period of time. This subjected the wiring in the vicinity of the heaters to very high temperatures (1,000 degrees F), which were subsequently shown to have severely degraded the Teflon insulation. The thermostatic switches started to open while powered by 65 volts DC and were probably welded shut. Furthermore, other warning signs during testing went unheeded and the tank, damaged from eight hours of overheating, was a potential bomb the next time it was filled with oxygen. That bomb exploded on April 13, 1970 — 200,000 miles from Earth. The Apollo 13 crew safely landed in the Pacific on April 17, 1970. Image Credit: NASA© article © NASA

 

 

 

Posted on April 14th, 2012. No Comments »

An excellent article on Michael Collins By Robin Mckie

Michael Collins

It was the secret terror that gripped astronaut Michael Collins throughout the Apollo 11 project 40 years ago. As his spacecraft, Columbia, swept over the lunar surface, Collins - the mission’s third and largely forgotten crewman - waited for a call from fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to say their lander craft had successfully blasted off from the Moon

The message would banish Collins’s deepest fear: that he would be the only survivor of an Apollo 11 disaster and that he was destined to return on his own to the United States  as “a marked man”.The realisation that the normally icy-cool astronaut was so obsessed by such an outcome puts a fresh perspective on the celebrations that will, this weekend, absorb the United States as it commemorates the moment, on 21 July 1969, that an American first walked on another world. Apollo 11 will be presented as a flawless technological triumph at jamborees across the nation, including a special reception at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, which all three Apollo 11 astronauts are scheduled to attend.

Yet at the time, worries that the mission would end in disaster consumed nearly all of those involved in the programme - despite their apparent calm. And no one was more stressed than Collins, it appears.

In his case, the astronaut was obsessed with the reliability of the ascent engine of Armstrong and Aldrin’s lander, Eagle. It had never been fired on the Moon’s surface before and many astronauts had serious doubts about its reliability. Should the engine fail to ignite, Armstrong and Aldrin would be stranded on the Moon - where they would die when their oxygen ran out. Or if it failed to burn for at least seven minutes, then the two astronauts would either crash back on to the Moon or be stranded in low orbit around it, beyond the reach of Collins in his mothership, Columbia.

All three astronauts believed there was a real chance such a disaster would occur. Armstrong thought his prospects were only 50-50 of making it back to Earth. And so did Collins, the pilot of Columbia and one of the world’s most experienced aviators.

Nor were the astronauts alone. Richard Nixon, then US president, had even prepared a speech that he would deliver in the event of the Eagle’s engine failing. “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace,” it ran. “These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.”

Thus Collins - alone in Columbia as the world focused on Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the lunar surface - fretted about his two companions below him on the Moon and revealed, in a note written at the time, that he was now “sweating like a nervous bride” as he waited to hear from the Eagle.

“My secret terror for the last six months has been leaving them on the Moon and returning to Earth alone; now I am within minutes of finding out the truth of the matter,” he wrote. “If they fail to rise from the surface, or crash back into it, I am not going to commit suicide; I am coming home, forthwith, but I will be a marked man for life and I know it.”

Then Armstrong and Aldrin prepared their lander for its launch. Armstrong pressed the engine’s firing button and Eagle soared perfectly above the lunar surface towards the waiting Collins. His worst fear had not materialised and he returned safely to Earth in the company of Armstrong and Aldrin, unmarked by the experience. He would not suffer a fate of global notoriety.

In fact, the opposite happened. Collins was forgotten. Today most people still know the names of the two first men on the Moon and recall the words, delivered by Armstrong, about taking a giant leap for mankind. But the name Michael Collins is rarely recalled, despite his critical role in the historic flight of Apollo 11. Not that he holds grudges. “It was an honour,” he said last week.

In fact, he was - in many ways - the unsung hero of the Apollo 11 mission, a point that was underlined at the time by the great American aviator Charles Lindbergh. He wrote to Collins, not long after his safe return, to tell him that his part of the mission was one of “greater profundity … you have experienced an aloneness unknown to man before”.

It is an intriguing remark and an apposite one, it turns out - a point that can be appreciated by looking at the very set-up of the mission. Apollo 11 consisted of a spindly lunar lander, Eagle, and an orbiting mothership, Columbia, that were both blasted into space on a giant Saturn V rocket on 16 July 1969. For three days, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins cruised towards the Moon inside Columbia and spent their time gazing “out the window at the Earth getting smaller and smaller and checking the spacecraft”, according to Aldrin.

Then, on 20 July, Armstrong and Aldrin crawled into Eagle and flew it down to the Moon’s surface. “Keep talking to me, guys,” radioed an initially panicky Collins as the pair drifted away from his ship.

Minutes later, Columbia swept behind the Moon and Collins became Earth’s most distant solo traveller, separated from the rest of humanity by 250,000 miles of space and by the bulk of the Moon, which blocked all radio transmissions to and from mission control. He was out of sight and out of contact with his home planet.

“I am now truly alone and absolutely alone from any known life. I am it,” he wrote in his capsule. Lindbergh’s remarks were certainly accurate.

Such solitude would have unnerved most people. But not Collins. He says the emotion that he experienced most during his day alone in lunar orbit was that of exultation. And certainly he appears to have relished his time as the loneliest member of his species. He also emerged from the post-Apollo years relatively unscathed. Aldrin lapsed into alcoholism and depression, while Armstrong became a virtual recluse. Both men subsequently divorced. By contrast, Collins - shaded from the glare of publicity - has avoided such personal traumas and is still with his wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1958. The couple have three grown-up children.

Collins was born in Rome on 31 October 1930. His father, Major-General James Lawton Collins, was then serving overseas with the US army. Collins later graduated from West Point and joined the US air force. An early assignment was to the 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing at George Air Force Base, where he learned how to drop nuclear weapons. He joined the astronaut corps in 1962 and flew on one of America’s two-man Gemini capsules with veteran astronaut John Young, who flew on a later Apollo mission. Then came his selection for Apollo 11.

After his return to Earth, Collins gave up space travel and pursued a career in bureaucracy and business. He was director of the National Air and Space Museum until 1978, before being appointed vice-president of LTV Aerospace in Arlington, Virginia. He resigned in 1985 to start his own business.

Today he remains cheerful about his role on Apollo 11, although he describes himself as becoming increasingly grumpy. “At age 78, some things about current society irritate me, such as the adulation of celebrities and inflation of heroism,” he said last week. Neither description fits him, he added. “Heroes abound, but don’t count astronauts among them. We worked very hard, we did our jobs to near perfection, but that is what we had been hired to do.”

He describes himself today as moderately busy, “running, biking, swimming, fishing, painting, cooking, reading, worrying about the stock market and searching for a really good bottle of cabernet for under $10″.

As to his claim to fame, that was simple fate, he added. “Neil Armstrong was born in 1930. Buzz Aldrin was born in 1930, and Mike Collins, 1930. We came along at exactly the right time. We survived hazardous careers and were successful in them.

“But in my own case at least, it was 10% shrewd planning and 90% blind luck. Put Lucky on my tombstone.”

Originally published by Robin McKie (The Guardian July 2009)

I have always held the view that Michael Collins was underestimated in his magnificent role as the man alone in space who was ultimately responsible for getting the crew of Apollo 11 home from their jubilant first walk on another planet. Few people could have been chosen for this uncharted and unique historical job. Not only was he the closest man never to walk on the Moon, but had also the unenviable task of ensuring utter disaster was not bestowed on Aldrin and Armstrong. Out of my entire Astronaut Autograph collection his was perhaps the most satisfying to purchase, and unusually not one of the most expensive, as without his contribution in history it could have been an entirely different picture to the one we already know. Gary Cole

Posted on March 18th, 2012. No Comments »

Why would we go to the Moon again ?

I found it interesting to read the recent comments of an American presidential candidate talking on his views to re-visiting the Moon. For someone who may be confident about his chances of becoming the next President has he forgotten the World (in particular America) is still in deep recession. And whilst I myself am a space travel enthusiast I do recall that America has already stepped up to that challenge, been there ! and brought back some space rock samples already on six separate occasions. Not only that Space Shuttle has come to an end, job losses have been made at NASA and Astronauts are looking to use their skills elsewhere ! Or have I missed something ?

Whilst we have the technology to get there faster and safer than before, it is 40 years since man traveled into deep space opting for more regular excursions via Space Shuttle. Any project to revisit the Lunar surface does not have to involve America unless it is for a particular purpose and justification of budget. Other countries such as China who have hinted this may be a possibility for them would of course create another huge public interest in space exploration. I for one would love to see more deep space travel to further planets, but not to the Moon as a first choice. The Moon would have to serve a purpose for long term trips with a permanent base for study purposes. Think about the cost of getting Apollo 11 to the moon? It took three space programs of research , Mercury, Gemini and Apollo which gave Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin only 2 hours 31 minutes on the lunar surface traversing the surface by 250 metres collecting 21.7 kilograms of rock.

Any Moon project that is worthy of attempting will have to in my opinion look at the benefits of what the Moon can offer, and I believe that will only come from a more permanent study base which will reduce the cost of repeat visits. Only 18 Astronauts have ever been involved in successful missions to the Moon, but it has taken thousands of people to get them there.Finally, it is healthy to have visions of reaching what seems the unreachable, but maybe the bottom line is to be thankful that these visions have already been achieved.. Gary Royston Cole  (March 2012)


Posted on March 10th, 2012. No Comments »

Stargazing, Space Travel and Vision

BEHOLD A BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE  IN ALL ITS ETERNAL GLORY                                                                                                                     

As a small child like many children I would now and again on a star lit night stand day dreaming focused on my own personal star with my hands outstretched trying to grab it. I remember vividly the year of 1969 when in one single minute taking ten years of preparation Neil Armstrong gave hope to many young men and women who  dreamed of becoming space explorers.It is always good to dream rather than fantasize! Dreams can become visions , visions with perseverance can becomes realities, but fantasies often remain just that because they lack substance.

If you are thinking. “Well I cant be the first in space, I will never be the first to orbit the earth or walk on the moon, or even break an air speed record” Stop right there because your destiny is your destiny, you own it and determine it and no one else can, thank goodness ! Whilst some men were breaking air speed records others had their sight on the moon, and whilst Cene Cernan was walking on the Lunar surface for the last time other men were preparing the dreams of many to fly in the Space Shuttle. The point I am making is never underestimate the potential of mankind we are crafted from the greatest creator God! And He (depending on your beliefs) wants the very best for us. Technology has advanced tremendously since Armstrong’s footprint on the Moon and the Moon is only one planet in a vast solar system to reach. I am not suggesting we visit say Mars just because we can, or Saturn just because its rings look fascinating, but with any great adventure there needs to be a purpose, and a justification.This is why I herald the return of scientists viewing the stars and planets with their visionary telescopes and claiming new ground for explorers. I do not want to see great aviation feats like The Concorde ceasing flying with no replacement and progress standing still, or Space Shuttle conducting thousands of experiments for the furtherance of planet earth only to be grounded permanently. We need to remain focused on new projects, bolder missions, greater more efficient technology and that “Right Stuff” mentality from would be Astronauts. Just think when Ocean explorers set out discovering the shorelines of new Continents using basic instruments and stars to navigate their course they surely dreamed those same stars would one day be reached….  Gary Royston Cole (for www.spacebase.org.uk )

Posted on December 4th, 2011. No Comments »

50 Years of manned spaceflight

 

The year 1961 recognises mankinds first achievement of successfully sending a man into space. Cosmonaut services pilot Yuri Gagarin the  favoured candidate out of a possible 20 stepped on board his Russian Vostok 3KA rocket that would see him become the first man in space. The Americans decision to test trial an earlier space flight using a monkey enabled Russia to take the lead over them.

Gagarin was a supremely focused athletic individual who was prepared to risk his life for his country. The odds were almost certainly not to favourable for him. He recorded these words in his post flight report ” The feeling of weightlessness was unfamiliar compared with Earth. Here you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended”

We know that his spaceflight consisted of a single orbit of the Earth with official records telling us the spaceflight took 108 minutes from launch to landing.  It was part of the mission that Gagarin would land separately from his spacecraft by ejecting with a parachute 7 km (23,000 ft) above ground. Gagarin was in the spacecraft for 108 minutes after launch, and that he didn’t touch ground for another 10 minutes. These statistics are essential in proving that Gagarin completed a full 360-degree orbit in inertial space. The longitude of launch to landing spanned a little more than 340 degrees, but the Earth also was rotating underneath him at about 15 degrees per hour while Gagarin was aloft. This historic flight catapulted him to fame and National hero status, immortalised after tragically being killed flying a Russian MIG fighter aircraft in 1968.

Posted on October 2nd, 2011. No Comments »

A FAREWELL TO SPACE SHUTTLE

STS 135 CREW 

On a clear July day thousands gather to witness the final launch of NASA’s only manned spacecraft known to us as The Space Shuttle. As countdown concluded the sky was lit with blistering flames coming from the launch rocket thrusters that would propel it into orbit. As it disengaged itself from the launch pad memories of those early space exploration missions from Mercury to Apollo would know doubt be in the hearts of the Astronauts as they set the sights for the International Space Station.

As the Shuttle reached remarkable heights in a matter of seconds separating the clouds and showing off a white trail behind itself, nothing else in aviation today quite compares with this technological achievement. Though not a deep space spacecraft its resilience shone through for 30 years, and it is poignant to remember the astronauts who lost their lives in the two disasters which NASA suffered. Aviation has now lost in the last 10 years two significant aircraft in Concorde and Space Shuttle with no replacements. Both America and Russia since the late 1950’s have paved the way in space exploration leaving perhaps another Nation to take up the mantel?
Both nations have successfully seduced their countries into supporting their audaciously expensive long term space programs. Competition between the two superpowers saw Russian military pilot Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space, and Naval pilot Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the surface of the Moon. As for the future I doubt if there will be any future space programs which will achieve , or touch the hearts like these two. It is not just proving that these goals can be achieved it is encouraging mankind that dreams can be fulfiilled no matter how far fetched they may appear when the vision is given. Technology will always advance beyond our imagination inspiring those who are gifted to work at their visions and hold them firmly in their hearts without fear of rejection. I will always applaud the risk takers,those who pledged the money, those who sacrificed the time for the invention of new technology, those who risked their lives as pilots and crew to achieve successful missions into new unexplored territories.
The future is unknown, but as for the past it is the end of a 50 year love story that captured the world in ways that will not be experienced again…..Gary Cole

Posted on July 9th, 2011. No Comments »

‘Space Shuttle’ Ends after 30 years of service

    

         STS 1 Crew (1980)                                          STS 133 (2011) Crew 

Good to welcome you all back to my historical website. Firstly I would like to thank all past, present and future visitors for your keen interest and hopefully patience in reading some of my articles. It will always in my opinion be a touch of historical sadness when any successful technology ceases not to be replaced and streamlined through with even more challenging technology as we see the Space Shuttle certainly earnt its’ reputation for!  As STS 133 prepares its launch at end of January 2011 for the International Space Station(ISS) visit, it looks like America’s Shuttle will lose its status of the world’s most successful and practical deep space aircraft. For it has been decided by the top brass in view of the work still continuing on board the ISS there will be neccessary flights of a further two last shuttles scheduled as STS 134, and STS 135 (Atlantis) being the very last Shuttle numbered flight. mission. On a pre planned day on July 8th 2011 will no doubt be seen as a very special and significant date time in space history. We see this cessation of technology occassionally happening in aviation, with the most famous embarressment ‘ The Concorde’ being scrapped without a worthy replacement. Or to put it another way a failure to upgrade on what was a dateless, technically genious aviational masterpiece.The Concorde an Anglo British success began its early designs way back in the 60’s when Great Britain was coming out from its swinging 60’s Beatles pop arena into an era of more darker heavy rock music leading the way. Thus the Concorde itself was an innovator proving most definately that people would pay a good price for maybe not the most comfortable ride in the world, but ceratainly the fastest. I compare it to the Space Shuttle as they seemed to have similar goals, of excellence in engineering, severe testing before trusting regular flights and the ability to get you somewhere either inside , or outside the Earths atmosphere quickly whilst bringing you back home safe!

Space Shuttle did exactly what it set out to do. It shuttles highly trained experienced pilots , navigators and non flying technical personnel into space and back. Rewinding back to the late  60’s and early 70’s NASA were using the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs to justify a more competitive priced semi commercial project that involved more low profile individuals, ie highly trained mission specialists. Early space astronauts rightly earned their celebrity status, for their incredible bravado, excellent previous military record , and their ability to work and respect those who made it happen on the ground. It was this relationship (with the exception of two  tragic Shuttle disasters) that gave in my opinion the Space shuttle an extremely long record of achievement. From 1980 after the 1st test flight with  of STS 1 with Apollo Astronauts John Young, and new Rookie Bob Crippen we see experience giving new blood great encouragement. Only but a very few number of Apollo and Pre Apollo Astronauts were chosen, or applied for the Shuttle crew jobs. Harrison Schmitt the first non military aviator, and first ever mission specialist was chosen to go up on the last Apollo mission (17) for a purpose. He may of been possibly unpopular with the ‘in crowd of NASA Astronauts’ at the time when chosen (around 1970) but NASA in my opinion were thinking much much further into the future by connecting and enabling everyday people to get involved in Space Travel.

As I have said before in my blogs, Space travel was never just to prove man can reach the Moon, and come safely back again, but to provide thousands of non astronauts the opportunity to pull together and build something actually very special, uniquely memorable, and marketed to captivate a world wide audience! If Microsofts Bill Gates or Richard Branson for example  were invited back in the 60’s to back up the ‘Mission Moon project’ financially, I would guess they probably would have. If you review but just a few of my mini biographies on both Space Shuttle and pre Space Shuttle Astronauts on this website you can enjoy to imagine the long hard road all them took to achieve their status. Highly driven, skilled craftsman, excellent in discipline with keen ears to listen and work well in a team are all ingredients for a successful project. No successful space craft has ever left the ground without the origins of inventors’ , innovators, politicians, technicians, engineers a variety of ground crew, and of course trained pilots, navigators and Commanders that overseer their precious crews. Whether there be a political Government world-wide who is prepared to continue with that ethic, let alone finance it remains to be seen…Gary Royston Cole

Posted on January 25th, 2011. 1 Comment »

Apollo, A legacy not to be forgotten..

  

July 20th 1969 the worlds eyes are focused on 10 years of NASA’s preparation from Apollo1 to Apollo 10. Buzz aldrin converses probably the most famous conversation with his Commander Neil Armstrong:

Aldrin…”35 degree, 35 degrees/750 feet.Coming down at 23

Armstrong..“Okay”

Aldrin..“700 feet.21 down, 33 degrees

Armstrong..“Pretty rocky area”

Aldrin.. “600 feet , down at 19″

Aldrin.. “540 feet. down at …30.down at 15″ Okay you’re pegged on horizontal velocity”

Armstrong…“270 (feet) .Okay, hows the fuel?

Aldrin..“Take it down”

Armstrong..“Okay, Here’s a…looks like a good area here”

Aldrin..“I got the shadow out there”

Armstrong..“I got a good spot”

Aldrin..“100 feet.Three and a half down,nine forward. Five per cent.Quantity light”

Aldrin..“Okay. 75 feet.And its looking good.Down a half, six forward”

Capcom: “60 seconds”

Aldrin..40 feet, down two and a half. Picking up some dust”

CapCom..“30 seconds”

Aldrin..“Drifting forward just a little bit; thats good”

Aldrin..“Contact light”

Armstrong..“Shutdown”

Aldrin..“Okay engine stop”

CapCom.. “We copy you down , Eagle”

Armstrong..“Engine arm is off. Houston.Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”

A brief conversation lasting several minutes reminds us of the importance of all those inspired declarations that were made by those involved with The Lunar project. We must remember that ” Imagination is nutritious food to every visionaries appetite”. Armstrong , Aldrin and Collins each had to have a strong appetite for imagination, for what they dreamt whilst growing up would surely hold them firm over several decades that would follow. There is in my opinion  nothing better than a focused imagination, a hunger for hard work, a powerful ear to listen, and a brave instinct to make decisions at the most vital of times.

Faith in other people is a wonderful gift, that enables ground breaking events to take place. When it all comes together successfully, it is surprisingly so, not the time then to take a breather and relax. Over 10 years of success, failure,  hard toil, sacrifice and even fear had been with Armstrong Aldrin and Collins during the Apollo Lunar build-up. Walking on the Lunar surface is more than just a statement of “We made it to the Moon”, it should inspire each of us all to believe that the things we dream about can actually happen. Neil Armstrong when he began walking down the ladder of the Lunar Module to take those famous first steps speaks these words to Cap Com. “I’m at the foot of the ladder. The LM fooftpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained as you get close to it. Its almost like a powder. The ground mass is very fine. I’m going to step of the LM now”.

After training as a Navy pilot, working as a test pilot, being hand picked for the prestigious X15 project, and finally getting handpicked for NASA, his words are really very down to Earth. They show I think a touch of trepidation, a healthy fear of the unknown, and a man who must be in total “awe” of the whole situation. Now he would have to get himself ready for those first Lunar surface words, ” That’s one small step for man;one giant leap for mankind”. Having got to his “Great gig in the sky” he goes on to say: “The surface is fine and powdery, I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boot. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles” .

So we see that his footprint stamped on the Moon for all eternity signifies almost a statement of man’s permanentcy on that desolute lonely planet. It was indeed a giant step for mankind for back and forth we would go for another five missions stamping our claim on a planet that cannot give us anything back in return, except for the knowledge that we gained in getting there. So Mr Armstrong, Mr Aldrin and Mr Collins I salute you for reminding us that its part of our human make-up to dream, to have visions and goals that though sometimes they may seem way out of this planet, they are actually very close to the hearts of all mankind.

(c) gary royston cole

Posted on July 11th, 2010. 1 Comment »