The Lunar Landings

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The Lunar Landings

ScreenHunter_2421 Oct. 25 19.10

By Michael Shrimpton

 
Did Americans Land on the Moon?
I wasn’t terribly surprised to see this old canard cropping up in comments.  There is no doubt that you guys made it!
There were six successful lunar landings, all in the Apollo series:  Apollo XI (July 1969 – Sea of Tranquility), Apollo XII (November 1969 – Ocean of Storms), Apollo XIV (April 1970 – Fra Mauro), Apollo XV (July 1971 – Hadley-Rille), Apollo XVI (April 1972 – Plain of Descartes) and Apollo XVII (Taurus-Littow).  In addition Apollo X, commanded by Frank Borman, with Tom Stafford, who gave a wonderful keynote at the Annapolis conference I attended earlier this month in the crew, descended to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface.
These outstanding achievements p….d off the Germans greatly.  They had after all tried to abort the program by murdering the Apollo 1 astronauts.  The DVD’s Propaganda Section has assiduously promoted the idea that the landings were faked ever since.  They may even have had a hand in arranging the finance for the entertaining but absurd movie Capricorn One, starring O.J. Simpson.  His defense in his murder trial in LA was a whole lot more credible than the plot!
The Van Allen Belts
The propaganda usually employed typically German pseudo-scientific babble.  The Van Allen Belts usually feature prominently, the argument being that humans can’t actually survive in space because of the radiation.  It reminds me of that splendid sketch in Not Only But Also, involving those fine comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.  Peter Cook (or was it Dudley?) refers to his mother being afraid to watch color television “because of the radiation.”
The Apollo missions were the first time humans transited the Van Allen Belts.  They were able to do so safely because of the honeycomb sandwich skin of the Command Module, built from memory by North American, a fine old company, makers of the beautiful RA-5 Vigilante and other superb products.  They also flew through the belts so fast they received little radiation dosage, maxing out at about 1 rad per mission.
The Van Allen Belts are not a good place to live, but they are really only dangerous to humans in extended stays.  The Van Allen Belt theory is just so much nonsense, like manmade global warming or the idea that the speed of light is a limiting velocity.  We have now discovered whole galaxies moving faster than the speed of light by the way.  So a galaxy can move faster than light, but not a spaceship.  Huh?
Shadows
There is nothing in the other arguments, about shadows and so on.  The tv broadcasts show what the lunar surface is like.  Get used to it!  The EU, being anti-American, funded a new observatory in Chile, partly in the desperate hope that photos of the lunar surface would not show any American flags.  The lunar landing sites were almost the first things they photographed.
There was mention of the piccies in the press before they were taken, then the EU went quiet.  No surprises there.  The sight of the American flag on the lunar surface was just too much for them, ramming home NASA’s great political victory over the Nixon Administration, which had wanted the flag of the German-controlled UN instead of Old Glory, like the UN had contributed something to mankind’s greatest ever achievement.
The American flags will be up there long after the UN has joined the League of Nations in the political dustbin.
We in Britain, being your friends, have no problem at all with this.  Of course we wish we had been able to join in and regret the decision to scrap our space program, but we value your achievement and will not stint in our praise of the Apollo astronauts, two of whom I have now met or seen at close quarters.  Talking to Apollo astronauts makes the program seem real in a way watching on tv did not.  Both Jim Lovell and Tom Stafford are fine men.
Mars
I renew my call for Britain to join with America in planning the funding the manned mission to Mars.  It’s the next great adventure in space, but it will require men and women with vision and leadership to replace boring old Obama and Cameron, who think science is about wind turbines.
Classic Movie of the Week
This week it’s When Eight Bells Toll (1971), repeated on British tv during the week.  I’m seeing Captain Phillips tomorrow, so maybe next week I’ll review a latest release (for us that is – we’re a little bit behind over here in our movie releases!).  When Eight Bells Toll is of course based on the famous novel by Alistair McLean.  It’s a cracking yarn, with a superb cast led by Anthony Hawkins and Robert Morley, featuring great Scottish scenery and few twists in the plot.  Full movie supplied courtesy of VT:

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Alistair McLean was more than just a novelist.  He also had a good grasp of intelligence matters and was something of a man of mystery himself.  There may be a gap in his resume whilst he was serving in the British Pacific Fleet in the improved Dido class 5.25” cruiser HMS Royalist, e.g. (these were elegant and useful ships, with reduced top hamper when compared with the Didos, at the cost of a reduction in main battery – I have always thought them better balanced ships than the Didos).  He claimed he had been captured and tortured by the Japs.  Whilst these claims have typically been dismissed as the drink talking (he was fond of the odd drop, was Alistair) I am not so sure.
In When Eight Bells Toll the intelligence literate will find a clue.  The stolen gold is hidden in scuttled ships.  The book was written in 1966 and the movie made five years later, decades before it became common knowledge that the Japs had hidden thousands of tons of stolen gold in this way.  They even sank a cruiser, full of the stuff (gold doesn’t rust).  Was the plot line inspired by inside knowledge?  I would not be at all surprised.  Alistair MacLean was a highly intelligent man, who went through the whole of World War II in the Royal Navy and never made officer, not officially at any rate.  He comes across as an intelligence officer with MI18, our super-secret ‘black agency’, crazily dismantled, officially at any rate, in 1945.  You didn’t really think we left intelligence in the hands of those penetrated nutters in MI5 and MI6, did you?  They were, and are, just the front shop, staffed by people who aren’t really bright enough, no offense intended, for real intelligence work.
When Eight Bells Toll is poignantly marked by one of the last screen appearances of the great British actor Jack Hawkins.  Having lost a courageous battle with throat cancer the poor man could no longer speak.  The voice-over was done, well, by Charles Gray, who had a wonderful gravelly voice and is still my favourite Blofeld.
The helo is a Westland Widgeon (8 out of 10 for those who thinks it’s a Dragonfly).  They only made 15, so it’s a rare screen appearance by this promising development of the Dragonfly, with a more powerful Alvis Leonides engine and a roomier cabin.  I doubt there were more than a handful still in service when the movie was made.  The proposed order for the Royal Navy was cancelled by German assets in Whitehall, and it was never contemplated for RAF service, so the RAF markings in the movie are a technical error.
Not as big a technical error as the makers of that great series Kojak made in an episode broadcast on Sky this week, A Long Way From Times Square (Airdate November 30th 1975).  They had Kojak flying out to Reno in a Boeing B-52!  The B-52 then transmogrifies in midflight to a 727 – must have been of them there shape-shifting airplanes!  The reason episodes of Kojak are still being shown on British tv nigh on 40 years after they were made of course is because they were so good.  Even today people with hair claiming to be NYPD detectives have a credibility problem in England.  The episode featured George Dewey Wallace, an under-rated actor who happened to be the great-great-grandson of Admiral George Dewey.
October 25th 2013

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