Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Apollo 15 and 16 and the Lunar Rover 50 years later for Moon Day 2022

Happy National Moon Moon Day! For today's anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, I'm looking back at Apollo 15 and Apollo 16, the two missions whose 50th anniversaries occurred since the last Moon Day. I begin with Seeker's video covering both missions, but focusing mostly on the Lunar Rover, How Did NASA Engineer a Car for the Moon?

NASA’s first car to drive on the Moon revolutionized space exploration, giving astronauts the ability to travel farther than ever before.
SciShow Space also devoted one of its episodes to the Lunar Rover, What We Learned by Putting Cars on the Moon.

To expand their range on visits to the moon, astronauts needed a way to travel faster, go farther, and carry more than walking provided. Thankfully, they had the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
Both of these videos demonstrate how NASA and Boeing created a lunar vehicle and how a car on the Moon allowed the lunar astronauts to perform more and better science.

NASA also remembered both missions, looking at them as wholes, not just through the lens of their most visible technological achievement, as interesting and significant as it was and still is. To celebrate the mission's 50th anniversary, NASA uploaded Apollo 15: "Never Been on a Ride like this Before".

Our first wheels on the Moon. On the Apollo 15 mission, the Lunar Roving Vehicle allowed the astronauts to cover a much greater distance on the Moon than the previous three flights had accomplished. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission. On July 26, 1971, David R. Scott (Commander), James B. Irwin (Lunar Module Pilot) and Alfred M. Worden (Command Module Pilot) launched from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

Apollo 15 set several new records for crewed spaceflight: heaviest payload in a lunar orbit of approximately 107,000 pounds, maximum radial distance traveled on the lunar surface away from the spacecraft of about 17.5 miles, most lunar surface moonwalks (three) and longest total of duration for lunar surface moonwalk (18 hours, 37 minutes), longest time in lunar orbit (about 145 hours), longest crewed lunar mission (295 hours), longest Apollo mission, the first satellite placed in lunar orbit by a crewed spacecraft, and first deep space and operational spacewalk.
That is an impressive list of records! Also, I remember watching as the hammer and feather hit the lunar surface at the same time, demonstrating that Galileo was right.

NASA Goddard observed the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission with Apollo 16 Lands in the Lunar Highlands.

Thanks to data provided by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, we are able to visualize the Apollo 16 landing site in the Descartes highlands on the nearside of the Moon, where the astronauts landed in April 1972. The mission was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke, and Command Module Pilot Thomas K. Mattingly. This visualization contains audio transmissions from portions of the mission between the astronauts and CapCom James Irwin, and a view of the 3 EVA (extravehicular activity) routes the astronauts took over the course of three days, including their visit to North Ray crater. The experiments conducted and lunar samples collected by the crew are still providing valuable data about our Moon to scientists today.
Apollo 16 may not have been as flashy, but it was still important for understanding the Moon.

That's it for this look back. I plan on finishing this series next year with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. In the meantime, stay tuned as I return to the present day.

No comments:

Post a Comment