50 years ago, NASA relaunched the Apollo program and landed a rover on the moon

50 years ago, NASA relaunched the Apollo program and landed a rover on the moon

The Apollo 15 mission began 50 years ago, on July 26, 1971, with the revival of space exploration. We take a look at the expedition that saw new challenges in the conquest of space, from the time astronauts spent on the moon’s surface to the use of the first LRV lunar vehicle.

In September 1970, NASA announced the closure of Apollo program at 17NS Mission for budgetary reasons. A real setback for space exploration, which will benefit the researchers of the US Agency. Less than a year later, on July 26, 1971, the mission began Apollo 15 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Onboard Command and Service Module (CSM), Alfred M Wordenand Jacobus B. Irwin and David R. Scott on a mission that should mark another milestone in the lunar exploration programme.

The Apollo 15 landing site was recreated from images collected by the LRO probe (maanverkenningsvoertuig). © NASA

New equipment, new goals

From astronauts Americans are sent to terrestrial Thanks to an improved version of Saturn V launch vehicle.. The latter is able to withstand a higher load, with pulp 48 tons, NASA engineers want to improve the few Apollo missions to be performed. Scott and Irwin spend more time on the moon than they do Apollo 11 at 12. In 1969, Aldrin en Armstrong He spent more than 21 hours on the moon, and about 31 hours Pete Conrad and Alan Bean After a few months. In this effective third exploratory mission he was: expensive On the moon… 67 hours.

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Greetings from NASA for the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission © NASA

CSM is equipped with new tools, but only one tool will attract media attention: the first rover Moon (LRV). This small three-meter spacecraft, folded under the LEM during transit to the Earth satellite, allows astronauts to expand their exploration area by several kilometers. The all-terrain rover can reach a speed of about 14 km / h and carry a load of up to 490 kg.

After four days of travel, the lunar module separated from Endeavor and began its descent. The landing took place without incident near Mount Hadley and a fault of the same name.

One has to explore. This is exploration at its peak

From the early hours of their lunar adventure, Irwin and Scott have deployed the LRV, as well as many of the tools needed for the scientific work the two astronauts will perform. Scott will split the prepared sentence, like Neil Armstrong two years ago: ” As I stand here in Hadley before the wonders of the unknown, I realize that there is a fundamental truth that characterizes our nature. One has to explore. This is exploration at its peak. »

In three explorations with the rover, the two astronauts covered nearly 28 kilometers of the route. Various excavations are carried out at different locations around Mount Hadley and the Hadley Delta. From the first day of the expedition they installed Alsep (for Apollo Lunar Experiment Pack). This set of tools consists of: spectrometerOr the camera or the altimeter, which will be used until 1977. Until now, Alsep has made it possible for the world to testify to the existence of magnetic fields Weak on the lunar surface to study surface thermal fluctuations or to conduct seismic surveys. Many experiments will be conducted, including the famous hammer – falling feathers, where Commander Scott will test one of the files gravity Lunar by dropping a hammer and a feather on the same plane, while the two objects reach the Earth at the same time.

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Hammer and pen test, conducted by David Scott. © NASA

After spending nearly three days on to the moonThe astronauts aboard the LEM returned to join the console, where Alfred Worden made several observations of the lunar surface with cameras and spectrometers. The return of the astronauts to Earth is proceeding smoothly and they landed on August 7, 1971 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. They brought about 77 kilograms of moon rocks, the oldest of which was found, Genesis Rock Or the “Generation Stone”, which is 4 billion years old.

Although the end Apollo program In 1972 this was 15NS The mission determines the dominance of NASA and the United States in the space race. The technological prowess and the value of the scientific research conducted during the voyage are still, 50 years later, a truly great success.

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