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  Apollo 11: Lunar EVA as secondary objective

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11: Lunar EVA as secondary objective
YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 02-21-2017 12:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One common and understandable misconception about the first lunar landing was its significance to Neil Armstrong compared with his first step on the surface.

From 1969 to 2011, he consistently viewed the crewed lunar landing of the lunar module as the defining moment of Apollo 11.

Neil Armstrong wrote on page 25 of LIFE Magazine, August 22, 1969:

In retrospect touchdown was for me the single most striking point of achievement in the flight. Lift-off was the next most striking. I thought quite a bit about that single ascent engine and how much depended upon it.
In a Scientific American article, Andrew Chaikin recounted Armstrong's words from a 1988 interview:
In my view, the emotional moment was the landing. That was human contact with the moon, the landing... It was at the time when we landed that we were there, we were in the lunar environment, the lunar gravity. That, in my view, was…the emotional high. And the business of getting down the ladder to me was much less significant.
In Dublin, Ireland, in 2003, a cS member recalled Armstrong saying:
What pilot takes pride in stepping down from his vehicle?
Finally, in a 2011 CPA Australia interview, Armstrong confirmed the crewed lunar landing as the primary mission objective and the EVA as a secondary objective when he said:
Course, the first statement we made was "The Eagle has landed... Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed." And that was the signature line for achieving the presidential goal that we had been working for a decade on. And in our view that was a very important statement. Getting down on... that was less important in our view, but it was significant to actually touch your boot into the sand and recognize that it's okay to stand there.
Most people forget that NASA's primary mission objective for Apollo 11 was a manned lunar landing and return. Lunar EVA was an Apollo 11 secondary mission objective.

Grounded!
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From: Bennington, Vermont, USA
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posted 02-21-2017 01:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Grounded!   Click Here to Email Grounded!     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What pilot takes pride in stepping down from his vehicle? Such is the mindset of a true pilot.

It may be difficult for some of us to comprehend why a CMP would be perfectly satisfied with his flight assignment at the time and perhaps even leave the program when there is a chance of later commanding a mission (and walking on the moon). Armstrong's words convey the feelings of many in the Apollo program. These guys were pilots first and foremost!

David C
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posted 02-21-2017 02:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is well trodden ground and I'm always surprised that people are surprised. On the scale of challenges and achievements going for a walk rates pretty low for anybody, not just pilots. 95% of the professional effort went into — the stated program objective — landing. Okay, an EVA is more difficult and risky than a simple walk, but it's not like they were walking on Earth. They're in an Apollo EMU which probably has more in common with a suit of heavy armour than T-shirt and shorts. No "emotional" kneeling down and feeling the soil in your hands, the wind in your hair, smelling the air etc. Touch and smell came later back in the LM. Yeah you could turn around, but there was not much surprising to see, you'd just flown over it and seen it. I really do fail to see how you were more "really" on the moon in the cocoon of a one man personal spacecraft (suit), than in the LM.

The Apollo 11 EVA was very basic, pretty much mostly symbolic, apart from a quick "how does the EMU work and move." No complex scientific or geological investigation. Apollo 12 starts to be different as there's something to go and see (Surveyor), and by the J missions well, I guess it depends if you prefer flying or exploration.

As for the difficulties in understanding people's career decisions, they're usually felt by people who haven't put in similar amounts of work and dedication over many years and are too lazy to use their imaginations to "walk a mile" in someone else's shoes. I think it's called empathy.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 02-21-2017 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Grounded!:
What pilot takes pride in stepping down from his vehicle?
I think each pilot had his own goals. Gene Cernan had stated many times how important it was to him to "go the last 50,000 feet."

YankeeClipper
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posted 02-21-2017 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Grounded!:
It may be difficult for some of us to comprehend why a CMP would be perfectly satisfied with his flight assignment...
Michael Collins wrote on page 28 of LIFE Magazine, August 22, 1969:
People keep asking me if I was lonely up there in Columbia while Neil and Buzz were on the moon. I wasn't. I've been flying airplanes by myself for about 17 years, and the idea of being in a flying vehicle alone was in no way alarming. In fact, sometimes I prefer to be by myself.
These sentiments are remarkably similar to those expressed by Apollo 15 CMP Al Worden. Al has also mentioned the fact that he got to see far more of the Moon than the lunar surface crew!

dss65
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From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
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posted 02-21-2017 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These are very interesting perspectives, and I appreciate them being shared. I am not a pilot, but as a hiker and backpacker, getting out and walking on the moon would have been very important to me. I suspect that most of us ordinary Earthlings felt pretty much the same way.

Mike Dixon
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From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
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posted 02-22-2017 02:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed, otherwise what was the point? The LM ladder would have given it away.

YankeeClipper
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posted 02-22-2017 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No one is suggesting that lunar surface exploration was not an important activity on Apollo 11. Clearly, it was. Armstrong, himself, confirms his más allá spirit of exploration on page 25 of LIFE Magazine, August 22, 1969:
My only real problem on the surface was that there were so many places that I would like to have investigated, to find out just what was beyond the next hill, so to speak.
As regards the money shot - the televised first surface step and associated words - Armstrong was, however, relatively low-key:
I had thought about that a little before the flight, mainly because so many people had made such a big point of it. I had also thought about it a little on the way to the moon, but not much. It wasn't until after landing that I made up my mind what to say: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Beyond those words I don't recall any particular emotion or feeling other than a little caution, a desire to be sure it was safe to put my weight on that surface outside Eagle's footpad.
The actual perspective most highly prized by Armstrong was a different one - and experienced in flight:
Of all the spectacular views we had, the most impressive to me was on the way toward the moon, when we flew through its shadow.
The status of Project Apollo just 6 months before the first lunar landing was provided by Armstrong on page 24, as context to his thoughts:
Our goal, when we were assigned to this flight last January, seemed almost impossible. There were a lot of unknowns, unproved ideas, unproved hardware. The LM had never flown. There were many things about the lunar surface we did not know.

I felt a successful lunar landing might inspire men around the world to believe that impossible goals really are possible...

When that goal was achieved, the self-effacing mission commander positioned it perfectly. His first step on the lunar surface was just that - one small step of one man on one date. The giant decade-long technological leap of millions, embodied in the landing of the lunar module, was all that really mattered. The impossible really was possible.

YankeeClipper
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posted 02-22-2017 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By contrast, four months later on Apollo 12, lunar EVA was a requisite and imperative feature of several primary mission objectives. Pete Conrad described his mood after the point landing, on page 33 of LIFE Magazine, December 19, 1969:
We couldn't wait to get out..Already I knew we were in good shape; we would be able to walk over to Surveyor easily. I was sure we'd get to do both our EVAs and I was pretty exhilarated. Even without the exhilaration I would have gone bounding around on the moon.
Orbiting above them, Apollo 12 CMP Dick Gordon had sighted Intrepid and Surveyor 3 through the sextant. He closed the LIFE Magazine article on page 37, with this:
We had a very happy flight... I, personally, have one frustration: that last 60 miles I didn't go. It's like reaching out your finger and not quite being able to touch. Some day, I want to go that last 60 miles down to the moon.

Headshot
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posted 02-23-2017 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong's view does not surprise me. Remember, when he became an astronaut, and until at least 1965, the plan was for only the Lunar Module Pilot to leave the craft and venture onto the lunar surface. So Armstrong "grew up" in an environment where stepping down onto the moon was not regarded as a big thing. Landing, however, was.

Philip
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posted 02-25-2017 04:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well a good landing is one you can walk away from... be it on Earth or on the moon.

moorouge
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posted 02-25-2017 06:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Or to put another way - a good pilot is one with the same number of landings as take-offs.

YankeeClipper
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posted 02-25-2017 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
True.

All the lunar mission commanders with naval aviation backgrounds (Armstrong, Conrad, Lovell, Shepard, Young and Cernan) learned the value of a good landing in harsh environments. Night traps on heaving carrier decks are a brutally unforgiving formative education.

David C
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From: Pasadena, CA
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posted 02-25-2017 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
...a good pilot is one with the same number of landings as take-offs.
Not really, but certainly lucky, and as we used to say: "I'd rather be lucky than good."

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 05-27-2017 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Confirmation from the ALSJ Apollo 11 EVA Preparations from both Armstrong and Aldrin:
[During the 1991 mission review, I put the following question to Neil and Buzz and was so fascinated by Buzz's lengthy answer that I have included the entire exchange here. My question was "On the way home from dinner last night, my wife and I were talking a little bit about a difference in perception: namely that, from the public's point of view, the stuff that's about to happen, the two of you going outside on the surface, the first footprints, and so on is the exciting stuff; whereas, from the program point of view, the goal of the mission is the landing and return, demonstrating the capabilities of the spacecraft. Do you have any comments about that?"]

[Armstrong - "As I've always said, the highlight for me, personally, was the final descent and landing. That was, after all, our major objective and it was a very difficult and risky, complex part of the flight. And I, personally, not being a geologist and so on, saw no special challenge in the surface work, which was something appropriate to do but, in my mind, never had the importance of the landing itself. (Chuckling) From a pilot's perspective."]

[Aldrin - "I'm a transportation person, primarily. An operator of vehicles who found myself thrust into the situation of suited spacewalks - or EVAs - on Gemini 12 and Apollo 11. And I found that my preparation was most adequate for that. There's no doubt that the single most significant achievement on our flight was our descent to a foreign surface and the ascent to orbit to complete a rendezvous, join up, and come back."]

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