Leonov

The death was announced of Alexy Leonov. Or Alexei.

Any regular readers will know how much I enjoyed all the space stuff this summer, celebrating Apollo 11. We remember some of the old school astronauts and cosmonauts: John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, John Young, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova and Alexei Leonov. Few of the original heroes are still alive.

In 1965, Leonov was the first person ever to do a spacewalk. It nearly ended in tears when his suit expanded so much he could not get back into the capsule. The landing was also fraught with difficulties, and there is a great film about it: Spacewalk/Spacewalker.

Had it happened, Leonov would have been the first Russian on the Moon. As it was, he commanded the Soviet half of the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission.

In later life, he became the grand old man of Russian space.

Men on the Moon

Given that just 12 men have walked on the Moon, how many can you name. More than two is good. I can do most, but get the mission numbers a bit confused (mind, I don’t remember what I had for breakfast).

So here they are:

11 Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin

12 Pete Conrad, Alan Bean

14 Alan Shepherd, Edgar Mitchell

15 Dave Scott, Jim Irwin

16 John Young, Charlie Duke

17 Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt

As I write, four are still alive: Aldrin, Duke, Schmitt and Scott.

Apollo 13, of course, was due to land on the Moon but an explosion aborted the mission.

Did it really happen?

Apparently, one American in 20 does not believe we went to the Moon. One in 10 does not believe we have ever been in Space. A similar number believe that the Earth is flat (and that the Easter Bunny is real too, I guess).

All the interest in space has brought all the nut cases out of the woodwork.

Some really are just nutty. I guess they actually believe it was all a conspiracy and a fake, filmed by Kubrick just like the film Capricorn One.

I don’t know why people listen to these folk. They talk nonsense. Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Here are some arguments the Discovery Channel is using to suggest it’s a fake:

  • the flag blows in the wind on the “Moon”
  • man would die when pasing through the van Allen belts
  • America couldn’t trust the astronauts to complete the task so they faked it
  • Wernher von Braun was a Nazi so we didn’t go to the Moon
  • there is no real evidence of going to the Moon
  • if they had gone into space, where are all the pictures of the Earth?
  • you can’t see anything on the Moon that proves we went

and so on.

I don’t know why the media give these stupid people the time of day. It’s a failing of our educational system that folk believe in nonsensical things.

Mythbusters categorically disproved every popular fake theory a few years ago. I am sure you can find it and others on YouTube.

And ask yourelf this question. Why would they fake it? It would need hundreds of thousands of people to be in on the conspiracy and for all of them never to admit such a fake existed.

Nostalgia

It was great to see so much space stuff on tv, in the press and at the cinema. You would imagine there isn’t much left to be said about it all, but there were new things, and certainly things forgotten.

The BBC has the regular long running The Sky at Night and it was great to see James Burke talking about his work on tv at that time.

Sadly many like Patrick Moore, Walter Cronkite, Arthur C Clarke and many others are long gone. And one of the prime movers of the USA space programme, Chris Kraft, died just the other day, as the celebrations were proceeding.

It was, of course, a space war. A war with Russia. Facts come out about what the Russians intended to do. It is always said that they intended to land a man on the Moon before the USA, but the evidence that this is a real threat is very sketchy. Certainly, theLuna 15 unmanned craft was intended to get to the Moon, retrieve samples and return before Apollo 11 succeeded, but it crashed on the Moon’s surface.

Remember, no person of any nationality other than American has walked on the Moon, and no woman has. Had the Apollo series continued, that might have happened.