How many Apollo launches were there?

This is a posting that is unashamedly for Apollo nerds. If you are over sixty years old, you probably remember Apollo and lived the Moon landings, at least the first one, as I did. People of my generation are bathing in a stream of glittering memories as we pass the fiftieth anniversary of one epic [...]

2001 a Space Odyssey: Good science fiction, but not perfect… the future that it imagined and the astronomy that the film got horribly wrong

If you are a space fan, almost certainly you have seen “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I was too young to see its original release in cinemas but, more than ten years later, you could still find it projected somewhere in London. It is a remarkable film that coincided in release with the launch of [...]

Usain Bolt v the Saturn V rocket – who wins a race from a standing start?

If you are a fan of science fiction, one of the standard scenarios is the crushing weight that astronauts face on launch: the terrible pressure of terrific g-forces, suddenly slamming the helpless astronauts into their couches and the terrible effort to move that this produces. This is part of the legend of space flight. In [...]

Apollo 13: Fifty Years On – the known disaster and the unknown near-disaster

As the world faces arguably its greatest crisis since the Spanish ‘Flu of 1918-1920 and NASA gears up steadily for the first of its three, planned Artemis flights, which will take man (and almost certainly at least one woman) back to the Moon, there is a certain irony in the fact that Artemis 2, the [...]

Apollo 12: the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Lunar Landing – a story of serial bad luck, a serious mistake and unexplained saliva

Who remembers Apollo 12? It should have been the flight that gave the American public a television spectacular that knocked spots off the short Apollo 11 moonwalk. The first moon landing was basically a PR exercise: the moonwalk was the shortest possible and science was almost an afterthought. The Apollo 11 landing was to give [...]

The Other First Man

Recently, we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of “One Small Step”. History records that Neil Armstrong was the First Man and that the first manned landing on the Moon was made by Armstrong and Aldrin. History also records that, had things been only slightly different, the first landing could have been made by Grissom and [...]

The Apollo 11 Landing: staring-down disaster

  The Apollo 11 Landing: staring-down disaster The multiple issues that faced the Apollo 11 Moon landing are generally well known. Alarms, fuel, … so many things happened in such a short time that could have led to disaster, or to an abort. Much has been said about the coolness of Neil Armstrong under massive [...]

Are The Apollo Flags Still Standing?

One of the articles of faith of the Apollo Moon landing is that the items left on the lunar surface will last, if not for all time, at least for millions of years. We can see the tracks left by the astronauts of each of the Moon landings. The disturbed earth – more accurately, disturbed [...]

The Great First Step Mystery

It is now almost exactly one month until the fiftieth anniversary of that “One Small Step”. It is a couple of months since I have posted anything here about it. Life has been rather busy. However, the events of fifty years ago are ever present. Over the last few months we have seen the fiftieth [...]

The Bizarre Moon Conspiracy Theories

Earlier this week, my attention was drawn by a colleague to the poll in Twitter below, started last summer by a prominent Spanish footballer (ex-Captain of the national team, so you suppose that he must be fairly level-headed). The player in question recounted how he was arguing over dinner the previous night about whether or [...]