How NASA’s Apollo program turned military test pilots into lunar geologists

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Before the first man landed on the moon, NASA dispatched the Apollo astronauts to this volcanic field to search for these and other faux moon rocks.

The scavenger hunt had great purpose: Anorthosite would likely be among the oldest lunar fragments, geologists believed, and they wanted to make sure the moonwalkers could identify the valuable specimens to bring home.

‘We drilled that into the Apollo 15 crew,’ said Gerald Schaber, a retired geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who helped with the training. ‘That’s the kind of efforts we went to.’

The early Apollo missions were focused on beating the Soviets to the moon to prove America’s technological superiority during a fraught period in the Cold War, and the astronauts who flew them were mostly pilots with little interest in rocks.

Publisher: Los Angeles Times
Date: 2019-07-19T12:00:20.486
Author: Author link
Twitter: @latimes
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No one who grew up dreaming of being an’astronaut will have imagined it might involve merely being some anonymous component of a complex feedback system. How NASA's Apollo program turned military test pilots into ... NASA’s Apollo program turned military test pilots into lunar geologists Apollo 15 astronauts Jim Irwin, left, and David Scott drive a prototype of a lunar rover in a volcanic cinder field ... That’s not what being an astronaut is. Being an astronaut is being in the driving seat, right? Blast-off. Landing the Eagle. Re-entry. How NASA's Apollo Program Turned Military Test Pilots Into ... he did his best to turn NASA's astronauts into scientists and persuaded the space agency to send nine of them to Arizona for field training. Shoemaker took the astronauts out in January 1963. Heroics. But, believe it or not, the test pilots and military aviators selected to become Nasa’s first astronauts had a fight on their hands to retain that status.

David Mindell is professor of the history of engineering and manufacturing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His book ‘Digital Apollo: Human and’Machine in Spaceflight’ explores how ‘fly-by-wire’ automation was pioneered for Nasa’s space modules, and then migrated into the cockpits of jet fighters and the flight’decks of civilian airliners, and even into the dashboards of cars. Mindell is our chief witness in this brief exploration of why Apollo’s guidance protocols, part human and part automatic, have had such a far-reaching effect.

Date: 2019-07-16
Author: Piers Bizony
Twitter: @@EandTmagazine
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“First golf ball hit on the moon, a line driver sent into the universe by Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard in February 1971.

Twitter: @OnPointRadio
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Greetings Earthlings: We are out of our element The data presented above may one day be zapped to another dimension. Just thought you should be aware. Guess what. I dropped it.