Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lunar Trainer Mishap, 1968



Before the moon, before Projects Gemini and Apollo, Armstrong was already a famed test pilot. His coolness when a prototype model LEM blew up [he ejected from the Lunar Landing Test Vehicle (LLTV) with not much time to spare] was part of his legend.There are arguments as to how the accident occurs - I defy you looking at the video to place yourself in his shoes - as it turns out the test pilot lot is a snipey one - it goes with the territory - to argue about what could have been differently - chewing on the cud of catastrophe, ultimately, to gain insight that might save your own behind one day.  


Sunday, July 20, 2014

First Man - On the Moon

trayMoon

Every once and a while is time to remember why this site is called Moon Traveller Herald. It is a nod to the first lunar landing. It occurred on July 20, 1969, and for me, there are things that happened before and things that happened later, but that moment was the great pivot point of the modern world as it was a certain apex of technology. Hasn't really been surpassed, has it? Those days brought pictures not just of the moon, but of earth as seen from the moon. And that has been a repeating theme of Moon Traveller Herald – to look at things as at the remove of the moon.

This summer I have been "at a remove" - reading a biography of the Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong: First Man. Not just a remove, it has been a walk in time, as my friend Sam Burkhardt would say.

The book is a look at a man who was something of a cypher. He was a technical hero - but in his era you had to be literally brave too.  First Man was an able survey of the mix that was Neil Armstrong. Neil Armstrong had the Midwestern pilot drone attitude down cold. He was seen as cool but there also burned a fire. Both cool and hot was the first human on the moon.

Coming in for a landing did he think of his landings - not all pretty - as a boy in Ohio?He'd been at it since he was young, getting a pilot's licence and a driver's license at about the same time. No, he would not be thinking of Ohio, the airport, and phone or electrical lines to avoid - but what he learned there, in Korea, at Edwards Air Force Base in the California dessert - it all no doubt was with him on that moon landing. 

Uninterruptible, he was deep thinking as always on the fateful night , and going to land that thing come hell or high water. There were alarms going off - fuel was running short. And he wouldn't look at any of those things too intendly - not to be distracted. For me, this book is the story of how he got there. 
Before the moon, before Projects Gemini and Apollo, Armstrong was already a famed test pilot. His coolness when a prototype model LEM blew up [he ejected from the Lunar Landing Test Vehicle (LLTV) with not much time to spare] was part of his legend.There are arguments as to how the accident occurs - I defy you looking at the video to place yourself in his shoes ( and tell me what you would have done ) - as it turns out the test pilot lot is a snipey one - it goes with the territory - to argue about what could have been differently - chewing on the cud of catastrophe, ultimately, to gain insight that might save your own behind one day.  

One of many surprises: Armstrong saw his trip and its meaning in the light of the ecology thinking of the day - as a call to think in terms of the Spaceship Earth.(To be continued.)

If find myself on the old Interstate this summer I actually am not reading "First Man" but am instead listening to it as book on tape (actually, a CD) as I commute. Interesting Mittyesque moments, those!

[[[[[[[[[[[[[ Note: This post is underconstruction....]]]]I am starting this post as a placekeeper to mark the date...45 years after the moon landing .. and I will peck away at finishing it, and adding pictures and such subsequently.

i.

>50,000 ft up when the PDI commenced.
>Yaw right 10deg.
>Go for PDI.
>Powered Descent Insert.
>Buzz focused on the readouts.
>From the Nav computer.
>Eagle started down.
>One minute to ignition.
>13 minutes to landing.
>Neil, ever enigmatic.
>Buzz, on other hand, chattered all the time, "like a magpie".
PatchMoon
http://moontravellerherald.blogspot.com/2012/08/neal-armstrong-from-tranquility-base.htm

His coolness when a prototype model LEM blew up [he ejected] was part of his legend. From this transcript I detect a call out that I take it as his descent engine had 30 sec of fuel left about 26 sec before he landed. Armstrong himself was a thinker, an engineer first, a pilot second, except when the opposite order was required. A difficult read. Isolated. On a mission. Norman Mailer, almost unable to describe Armstrong, the essential cypher, cam to the insight that he was "extraordinarily remote."

 Related http://www.digitalsky.org.uk/lunar/Apollo11/Finding-Tranquility-Base.html http://history.nasa.gov/40thann/wav/ap11_landing_audio.wav http://moontravellerherald.blogspot.com/2012/08/neal-armstrong-from-tranquility-base.html

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gospel of Calvin 3 of 3

Moving, yknow. What can I throw away? So many books. Some never opened, I admit. Here's this Calvin and Hobbes book (Yukon Ho!) Well maybe I will just look at it a bit before I dumpster it. What I will find is what I forgot - Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes was the greatest daily comic of my era.

First things first: There is Peanuts, right? Which was totally transmogrifying great. I give Bill the nod because his drawings are just incredible, especially in their frame by frame motion, which is essential to comics. I am not faulting Charles Schultz, and you have to give him a big plus for doing it over many many more years that Watterson. But, well, got that out of the way… here goes….

It's a lot more than just drawings that make Calvin and Hobbes so great. There is his Mittiesque imagination. Which allows him to conflate anything into an oversized adventure. There is the perfect confection that is this world. That is betrayed deftly every time we see a glimpse of Hobbes as stuffed animal toy.

For Calvin there is the frame to frame movement – a favorite theme, a kid's red wagon going downhill ( through time warps, into the future, faster and faster) – a sudden loss of gravity (that destroys his homework) – the jump into the mudhole followed by the equally adventurous trip to the bath – arriving home to be attacked by his tiger (again and again) – his abrupt loss of the third dimension that causes him to cavort like a piece of paper across the house and the episode.  The hurricane dust cloud backyard sandbox fights always made new yet on a Katzenjammer Kids' level. The trips to other planets. Drop of hat trips. Constantly trying his parents' patience.  Often exacerbating Hobbes the Tiger. The youthful exuberance: Today, something wonderful is going to happen! As it ever should. Good stuff. 
- Jack Vaughan on The Art of Bill Watterson 

post 1 of the series
post 2 of the series
post 3 of the series

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gospel of Calvin 2 of 3


Every once and a while - really very rarely - we get to see the other Hobbes - Hobbes as stuffed toy animal. This only goes to re-enforce the fact that power of imagination - the power of Calvin's imagination - is total. Greatest force in this universe.

In another quick frame we are comfortably (with marshmallows in hot chocolate, even!) back in the operative dream of life.


- Jack Vaughan on The Art of Bill Watterson




post 1 of the series
post 2 of the series
post 3 of the series


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Gospel of Calvin 1 of 3

Seemingly a chameleon concealed, changing colors; a nature documentary reeling in his young mind. In fact, it's Calvin hiding hind the sofa only to be found out, retrieved, snagged to clean his mess. A Mittyesque scene of youthful hiding. - Jack Vaughan on The Art of Bill Watterson
post 1 of the series
post 2 of the series
post 3 of the series