Best of the Web: How Apollo Made It Home To Earth


Getting to the Moon was one thing, but NASA designers had to design a way to safely brake a capsule traveling at 36,000 feet per second without frying the spacecraft or crushing the crew. This NASA film posted by AIRBOYD explains how they did it.

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  1. It was a dead stick “Descend Via The STAR” LNAV/VNAV arrival with speed brakes only and exponentially more complexity – the epitome of trajectory management with consequences far greater than an FAA violation. At 23 minutes and 39 seconds into this video the statement is made that the briefest phase of flight requires the largest computer program of the entire mission. In 1969 a 4KB IBM commercial business computer was approximately 6ft wide by 4 feet deep by 4 feet tall requiring a dedicated climate controlled room. Apollo computers must obviously have been more miniaturized. This video is a masterpiece of both concision and understatement.

    John Kliewer

  2. A SCUBA diver who takes a breath at depth and holds his breath all the way to the surface has a 100% chance of sustaining a lethal air embolism. Boyle’s law. Poor analogy, NASA.