top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#130 - David Chudwin - Apollo 11

Our night sky is beautiful as is – do we really need product logos next to Orion's Belt?

Buzz Aldrin

As a 19-year-old college journalist, author David Chudwin covered the Apollo 11 launch from Florida in July 1969. Chudwin was the only journalist with official NASA press credentials representing the college press and had extraordinary access to the astronauts, rocket scientists, launch pads, rockets, and control centers.

2019 will be the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11

Divided into three parts, this book provides: the author's account of covering the first landing on the Moon in 1969; lessons learned from the Apollo program and their relevance to future space activities; and our future in space including new rockets, space stations, and trips back to the Moon and to Mars.

“The launch of a Saturn V is the most amazing thing you would ever see. It was the largest and most powerful rocket ever conceived by man. What a thrill to be part of that great program and fly to the Moon! David has captured much of the excitement and emotional highs those launches included. You will like this book and the photos taken by a very dedicated and proficient photographer.”

AL WORDEN, Astronaut, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot


Samantha Cristoforetti: born 26 April 1977 in Milan an ESA astronaut and Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. At 199 days, 16 hours she holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut, and, until broken by Peggy Whitson inJune 2017, held the record for the longest single space flight by a woman

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in a Chinese pressure suit during training with Chinese colleagues to practice sea survival off China’s coastal city of Yantai, on 14 August 2017.


Pepsi’s Russian arm wanted to launch a campaign for its new Adrenaline Rush drink via StartRocket using its satellites to reflect sunlight via Mylar sails


Big Trouble with SpaceX Crew Dragon

  • April 20th Just a few days before st Georges Day, a day famous for the slaying of a dragon, we may have had another dragon death, this time the Dragon that was used but weeks ago to demonstrate Americas new ride into Space.

  • Crew Dragon testing at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 (where 10 Falcon 9 and a third of a falcon Heavy twice) ie 12 boosters in total have landed)

  • SpaceX were about to static fire the Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters when the vehicle exploded

  • Crew Dragon uses 4 pairs of high-thrust SuperDracos in the airframe, symmetrically around the vehicle. as a Launch Escape System (LES)

  • Ominous Orange Smoke could be seen for miles, possibly one and two tons of nitrogen tetroxide, the oxidiser for the SuperDraco, on fire.

  • Dinitrogen tetroxide is a powerful oxidizer that is hypergolic (spontaneously reacts) upon contact with various forms of hydrazine, which has made the pair a common bipropellant for rockets, monomethylhydrazine in the case of SuperDraco.

  • It can be stored as a liquid at room temperature.

  • Used on the U.S. Gemini and Apollo spacecraft and also on the Space Shuttle, it continues to be used as station-keeping propellant on most geo-stationary satellites, and many deep-space probes. It is also the primary oxidizer for Russia's Proton rocket.

  • On 24 July 1975, on the final descent to Earth after the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight a switch was accidentally left in the wrong position allowing the attitude control thrusters to fire after the cabin fresh air intake was opened, allowing fumes to enter the cabin. One crew member lost consciousness during descent. Upon landing, the crew was hospitalized for five days for chemical-induced pneumonia and edema

  • This Dragon 2 was being prepared for the launch abort test. Launched on a Falcon 9 and using it’s SuperDraco engines to pull itself safely away from the rocket, unlike a Soyus that uses a tractor type system in the launch escape tower.

  • OF course this is reminiscent of the Apollo 1 fire, except this time no one was hurt. But this is easily the most dramatic accident I can think of involving a human spacecraft like this since Apollo 1

  • This will possibly delay SpaceX into the first crewed mission being early next year

  • Boeing are also looking like next year as well

  • This means that Nasa may have to go back to Russia and purchase even more seats ...this is just increcibly embarrasing really.

  • The poor under paid, overworked buggers at SpaceX undoubtedly had to pull rediculous shifts over the easter weekend.

  • This could potentially be really bad news for SpaceX, if this is something that is inherently wrong with the capsule design it could take many months if not a year to put right. Undoubtedly NASA will have SpaceX back and will do all they can to help, they both have to get this to work. But let’s get this into perspective. With all the flash of falcon heavy, and starships in the dessert, SpaceX haven’t managed to fly a single person anywhere, and if this problem could have caused a fatality imagine just how bad that would be for them. SpaceX have a lot of enemies (mostly fat cat senators in money states) they must be sharpening their knives. Musk needs to get this sorted or it could all come crashing down.

  • Our best guess is that for some reason one of the tanks was over pressurized or just failed (the SuperDraco are pressure fed not turbo pump fed) This would take out the other tanks mixing the fuels and blowing up big time, even a rupturing pressure vessel is quite some explosion.

  • Flight proven actually means used, slightly worse in this case. It’s the design that gets flight proven not the craft itself, which can only get worse the more flights it does, hence you don’t get people selling second had cars as road proven, but the may point out the safety of the design based on the stats of all the cars of that design.

  • Return journey form space station has damaged the craft some how, heat stress, salt water (can’t believe they would have missed that though)

  • Faulty propellant lines popping off, same as above

  • Faulty Valve allowing the tank to get over pressurized

  • Most likely the MMH (hydra-zine) tank blew and took out the rest allowing the NTO to escape in plumes of orange clouds


Our nearest Exoplanet get’s a real boost.

So,our quest to find out whether we are alone in the Universe, just got a tiny bit easier.

Lisa Kaltenegger, director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute

Proxima Centauri b is the closest known exoplanet to the Solar System

(also called Proxima b or Alpha Centauri Cb)

  • orbiting in the habitable zone of the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri,

  • We covered Proxima b and how to get there extensively in Podcast 6!! I daren’t listen as it’s an early podcast.

  • It is located about 4.2 light-years (1.3 parsecs, 25 trillion miles) from Earth

  • Proxima Centauri b orbits the star at a distance of roughly 0.05 AU , 4,600,000 miles with year taking 11.2 Earth days,

  • Mass of at least 1.3 times that of the Earth.

  • Red dwarf star

  • Most common typr of star

  • Most common to have rocky planets!

  • Last much much longer! but

  • Such stars can flare frequently, bombarding their planets with biologically damaging high-energy UV radiation, placing planetary atmospheres at risk of erosion and bringing the habitability of these worlds into question

  • Observations suggest that Proxima-b receives 30 times more EUV than present-day Earth, and 250 times more X-ray radiation

  • low-energy white light flares occur as often as 63 times per day

  • large flares (with energies of 1033 (Decillion) erg (100 septillion Joules)) occur up to eight times per year

  • In March 2016, the Evryscope observed the first naked-eye- brightness superflare on Proxima Centauri.

  • But Lisa Kaltenegger and Jack O’Malley-James make a new case in a new paper, “Lessons From Early Earth: UV Surface Radiation Should Not Limit the Habitability of Active M Star Systems,” published April 9 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

  • They use the first models of the surface UV environments of the four closest potentially habitable exoplanets: Proxima-b, TRAPPIST-1e, Ross-128b, and LHS-1140b

  • assuming different atmospheric compositions, spanning Earth type to eroded types and even anoxic atmospheres

  • They then compared them to levels from Earth’s geological past

  • Even for the worst atmosphere types,even during the worst flares the UV radiation remains below that of an Early Earth

  • Early Earth was brutally in hospitaple, yet it’s when life actually started.

  • So this means we shouldn’t rule out lif on these planets at all, it actually might be encouraging to help us find the type of life that could survive this type of onslaught like earths like Deinococcus radiodurans, a polyextremophile and has been listed as the world's toughest bacterium in The Guinness Book Of World Records

  • bioFluorescence is common in the natural world and in some cases may serve as protection against UV radiation damage by upshifting UV light to longer, safer wavelengths

  • could cause a temporary change in the planet’s surface brightness in the visible

  • Because biofluorescence is independent of the visible flux of the host star and only dependent on the UV flux of the star, emitted biofluorescence can increase the visible flux of a planet orbiting an active M-star by several orders of magnitude during a flare.

  • Ozone and other atmospheric gases are potentially detectable by near future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope for our closest planet, Proxima-b, while high-contrast imaging with planned ground-based telescopes like the ELT could provide additional atmospheric characterization

  • Therefore, rather than ruling these worlds out in our search for life, they provide an intriguing environment for the search for life and even for searching for alternative biosignatures that could exist under high-UV surface conditions

AND THERE IS MORE : Mario Damasso of the Astrophysical Observatory of Turin and Fabio Del Sordo of the University of Crete announced at the annual invitation-only Breakthrough Discuss, (Yuri Milner project), they may have detected a second planet around Proxima Centauri

  • Proxima c, a so-called super-Earth, - minimum mass roughly six times that of our planet’s.

  • Its approximately 1900-day orbit would likely make it a frigid, inhospitable place, orbiting some 1.5 times the Earth-sun distance from Proxima Centauri

  • “It is only a candidate,” Damasso said during the presentation. “This is very important to underline.”

  • Del Sordo offered similar cautions “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” a quote from transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau Thoreau

  • Really good candidiate for an exoplanet photograph! Being bigger and furher away from host star.


Mars Quakes

Some facts about SEIS

A number of physical phenomena can create seismic waves, including marsquakes, meteorites striking the surface, landslides, or even the pressure of the wind on the surface. Weather phenomena, such as dust devils, can also generate seismic waves.

  • InSight delivers the first seismometer to Mars in 40 years. The last time seismometers traveled to the Red Planet was with the Viking landers.

  • Like a doctor's stethoscope listening to the patient's heartbeat, SEIS, will “listen” for marsquakes.

  • Using the seismometer, scientists expect to detect 5 to 10 meteor impacts over the course of InSight’s mission

  • SEIS can tune in to tremors smaller than a hydrogen atom!

  • InSight's seismometer can sense weather phenomena, such as dust storms, that produce seismic waves.

  • We can start to buld a picture of the interior of MArs form thes Waves

  • 38 megabits per day.

  • The Very Broad Band seismometer aboard the InSight space probe is an extremely sophisticated instrument with two decades of engineering behind it. It has benefited in particular from the legacy of Mars 96 and NetLander, missions that were unfortunately never completed.

  • At the heart of the instrument lie three exquisitely sensitive pendulums that will be able to detect the tiniest movements of the Martian surface.

  • The most hostile factor on Mars for seismometers is doubtless the huge temperature variations that occur between day and night and over the course of the seasons. The SEIS seismometer therefore has several thermal barriers

  • Like a Russian doll, the three pendulums nestle under extreme vacuum conditions within a titanium sphere

  • which is itself enclosed by a protective honeycomb-structured cover that uses the Martian atmosphere as an additional thermal insulator.

  • Finally, the whole assembly is placed under the wind and thermal shield, to minimize thermal contrasts and offer some protection against gusts of wind.

  • Under the United Nations umbrella of planetary protection, space agencies must comply with a set of rules and regulations drawn up by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). he InSight mission belongs to category IVa,The constraints imposed to prevent contamination at all costs are drastic, and have a significant impact on the mission budget.

  • Inside the SEIS are 3 more backup sensors called SEIS-SP (short period) rather than the VBB (very broad band) built here in the UK basically Ion-etched silicon wafer chips instead of pendulums, 1g instead of 190g, built by Oxford University and Imperial College London.


Space fact

Well as David mentioned - George Edwin Mueller July 16, 1918 – October 12, 2015), was an American electrical engineer who was an associate administrator at NASA who headed the Office of Manned Space Flight from September 1963 until December 1969

While in London in August 1968, to receive an award from the British Interplanetary Society, he again trumpeted the cause of the shuttle, "... there is a real requirement for an efficient earth to orbit transportation system – an economical space shuttle". "I forecast that the next major thrust in space will be the development of an economical launch vehicle for shuttling between Earth and the installations, such as the orbiting space station that will soon be orbiting in space." He also stated, as many others would do later, that "The shuttle ideally would be able to operate in a mode similar to that of a large commercial air transports and be compatible with the environment of major airports"

88 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page