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The idea that brought us to the Moon and the man who pushed it: NPR

American aerospace engineer John Hubblat as he boarded in July 1962, showing his plan to meet the moon's astronaut moon landing orbit.

NASA / LARC / Bob Most / PhotoQuest / Getty Images

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NASA / LARC / Bob Top / PhotoQuest / Getty Images

American aerospace engineer John Hubblat as he stood on a board in July 1962, showing his plan to meet the moon's moon landing orbit.

NASA / LARK / Bob Top / PhotoCuest / Getty Images

The Apollo program evokes images of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon and the efforts of the team associated with it. But a fundamental solution that led to a successful landing on the Moon came largely as a result of a person's determination to hold onto NASA's system.

This guy is John H. Ubult. to get to the moon prevailed over the ideas pushed by NASA's toughest offenders, including the native German scientist Werner von Braun who designed Saturn V, and Max Faget, an immigrant from the British Honduras who is responsible for the Mercury capsule . In April 1961, President John F. Kennedy set fire to America's space program, vowing to send "man on the moon and [return] safely to Earth" before the late 1960s. But NASA first had to answer a fundamental question: What was the exact mode to reach the moon? Without knowing that it is impossible even to start designing the machines to go there.

In the late 1950s, before America had even put a man in space, NASA was already thinking what would be needed to put the astronauts on the moon. But there was no broad consensus. Three major camps, which quickly became factions, supported different solutions.

There was a heated debate behind the scenes, with many space agency engineers attracted to what seemed to be the most obvious approach, a plan known as a direct climb.

Early NASA Lunar Landing Concept Using Direct Catch Method.


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Think ahead of the space concepts of travel from Apollo: a rocket launches from Earth, fired directly to the moon, and then lands, carrying with it all the fuel and consumables needed to arrive and return home.

"Most people just wanted to build a large rocket and arrange it and send it to the moon," says Roger Launion, former chief historian and senior NASA historian at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

A direct climb required a huge vehicle to make the moon landing, something that might have been 50 feet or more in height and extremely uncertain to land. A huge new rocket, Nova – even larger than the already titanic Saturn V – will only be needed to erect such a beast in the orbit of the Earth. The new one was still on the drawing board, and even Brown Brown doubted the feasibility and how fast he could be ready to fly.

An illustration of NASA comparing configurations of what will become Saturn 1B and Saturn V a larger rocket, New, which has never been developed.


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An illustration of NASA comparing the configurations of what would become Saturn 1B and Saturn V with an even larger rocket, Nova, which has never been developed.


The bottom line, according to Launius: "There was no way to do [direct ascent] within the time Kennedy has set for landing." The second Camp, led by von Braun, likes another option – something called Earth Orbit or EOR.

Around Earth Orbit

In essence, this was a variation of the topic of direct climb. EOR turned on the same giant vehicle to go to the Moon and required two or more Saturn Vs to release the pieces in orbit on Earth where the astronauts would collect them using a space station as a base for operations. in NASA, "according to facts published by NASA in 1992," especially among those who have admitted that selection [its] … requires a virtual space station structure, a platform in Earth's orbit that can have a lot other uses, scientific and otherwise, beyond Apollo. "Von Brown has long dreamed of a space station, and as the debate grew stronger, he stubbornly adhered to the EOR," says Launius.

  The Moon Module Moves to a Dock With the Command Module

The Moon Orbital Medium 19659007] There was also a third way – a candidate for the dark horse, favored by a minority engineer led by Houbolt at NASA Langley's Research Center, Mid-Lane Orbit, or LOR, would require only one Saturn V and two smaller vehicles to go to the Moon – a mother ship to stay in the moon's orbit, which became known as a command module, while a light moon module designed to just land and return from the moon's surface made a descent

The astronauts that walk the moon about a quarter million miles from each rescue would have to to connect the two spaceships to get home

To NASA's institution that sounded too risky, almost all but Hoult and the group of Langley supporters rejected it. At that time, no one has ever made meetings or harbors in space-maneuvers, which today are considered bread and oil from space flights, but in the early 1960s they were discouraging and inexperienced concepts.

"If the meeting had to be part of the Apollo project, LOR critics feel that this should only be done in the Earth's orbit," according to NASA data. If the maneuver is not successful, astronauts can easily get home. However, "if the meeting around the moon fails, the astronauts would be too far to be saved." Nothing can be done "

Illustration attributed to John Hobalt describing the method of the lunar orbit encounter.


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Houbolt believes that the risks of the LOR are manageable. Besides, he was categorical that the meeting of two spaceships in the lunar orbit was not just one of the possible methods for a moon mission, but the only one that had any chance of meeting Kennedy's near-impossible deadline. just an equation, including the need to save weight, time and money. The meeting of the moon's orbit ended all three. But despite the obvious advantages, Houbolt faced a difficult battle.

There was opposition to von Braun, but also the violent repulsion of Faget, the designer of the Mercury capsules.

At one meeting attended by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Simans, von Braun and Faget, Houbolt put LOR. After the presentation, Bagget got up from his place to condemn Houth's plan.

"His figures are lying!" said Phughet. Against the backdrop of the stunned silence in the room, Paget added: "He does not know what he's talking about!" The idea to get to the Moon might be the roundabout, but Juliet himself was direct.

He was also an outsider amongst the group of engineers studying the moon.

"Houbolt is not part of the program, and that's where the main issue is in play," says Launius. "He went to his boss and his boss called him and said," What are you doing? " because he has not worked at all in this area. "

Frustrated by his inability to listen to anyone, in November 1961, Juliet wrote a letter to Seamans, which essentially went to the top of the NASA hierarchy. This move was a violation of the protocol that Hulet admitted in the letter that it was "somewhat unorthodox". But, he insisted, "[the] these questions are crucial to us all that an unusual course is needed."

"Do we want to go to the moon or not?" Hubblat asked rhetorically, causing the controller to act. "Why is Nova, with its huge size, simply accepted, and why is it a much less spectacular scheme involving meetings with ostracism or defense?"

The letter drew the attention of Seamans. in the way it's written, "recalls a former NASA official in a 2008 documentary. – My first reaction was: "I would like some way to get this gun out of my back."

In response to Houbolt, Seamans promises to consider LOR

Months later, at a meeting in June 1962, von Braun unexpectedly turned the course and publicly announced that he recommended a meeting of the lunar orbit

Despite its differences , Houth – who left the space agency in 1963 – was invited by von Brown to mission control in Houston to witness the historic landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969

Against the backdrop of the abundance and celebration in The room after Eagle reported touchdown to the lunar sea of ​​tranquility, "it happened wonderfully not o ", Houbolt, who died in 2014, said years later. "Von Brown turned to me … and said," Thank you, John. This is a good idea. ""

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