The lasting legacy of the Apollo space program

NASA, other sites offer different perspectives on the historic and contemporary importance of the program

NASA marks Apollo milestone
Source: NASA

NASA has assembled a wealth of video, audio and other content to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of the agency’s crowning achievements.

The commemorative Web page features a slideshow of Apollo-related photographs taken by astronauts. The collection includes the classic photo of Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean in which a reflection of photographer and fellow astronaut Pete Conrad is clearly visible in Bean’s helmet visor.

The Web page also offers restored videos of the first moonwalk and a replay of Apollo 11 mission audio. As an added bonus: NASA and Google have teamed up to offer a virtual exploration of the moon. The application combines NASA images and Google’s 3-D Earth software.

Apollo’s lasting tech legacy
Source: Computerworld

Computerworld highlights 10 technologies developed during Apollo mission research that are still in use today.

For example, the NASA astronauts used wireless headsets developed by a company called Pacific Plantronics. The company still produces a line of headsets for use with desktop and mobile phones.

The Apollo program also helped spark the market for cordless tools, according to Computerworld. “While NASA didn't invent the Dustbuster, it can trace its origin to a battery-powered lunar drill developed by Black and Decker for the Apollo program,” the article states.

Other offshoots: Exercise equipment, memory foam (now used in pricey mattresses), dialysis technology and freeze-dried food.

Moon missions: What might have been
Source: Scientific American

Scientific American reflects on the moon missions that never happened: Flights 18 through 20, which were still in development when the federal government pulled the plug on the Apollo program.

The later missions likely would have targeted two of the moon’s large craters, which would have provided scientists with a wealth of additional geological data about the solar system’s early history. Earth’s geological history “has long since been obscured by plate tectonics, erosion and other processes,” Kenneth Silber wrote.

One scientist Silber interviewed believes the real mistake was discontinuing the production of the technology that went into the Saturn 5 rocket and the Apollo spacecraft, both of which might have been useful in today’s missions.

Back to the moon: Lunar tech today
Source: Network World

Network World takes a look at how state-of-the-art communications technology will help NASA stay in touch with the new generation of lunar spacecraft.

The current network involves three deep-space communications facilities spaced evenly around the world, which ensures that NASA can stay connected with spacecraft as the Earth rotates. But in the future, the agency plans to bolster its network by adding a handful of relay satellites, thereby guaranteeing coverage of the moon’s entire surface, Network World reported.

NASA launched a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter June 18. It is scheduled to spend a year in orbit 31 miles above the moon, collecting data that scientists will use to develop 3-D maps of the moon’s surface.

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