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What Did Apollo Do For Us?

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377350.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:05 pm Reply with quote

Apologies if this has been posted before - no search function - but:

What technical spin offs came from the Apollo program?

K: Teflon


Guardian, The wrote:
The cordless drill
Apollo astronauts used a self-contained drill to extract rock samples on the moon. Refinement has led to cordless drills and vacuum cleaners.

Time keeping
Electronically-stimulated quartz crystals kept the Apollo astronauts on time. They are now used in millions of quartz clocks.

Water purification
The Apollo mission used a new purification technology based on silver ions, rather than chlorine or bromine. It is now used to keep pools and spas bacteria-free.

Solar energy
Technology developed to power the Apollo craft using the sun's energy directly is now used on Earth.

377355.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:15 pm Reply with quote

I doubt that any of those inventions would not be with us now without the Apollo programme. Perhaps most impt is the stimulus it gave to microporcessor development - would have happened anyway, but Apollo helped give USA a big head-start over the rest of the world.

But frying pans et al distract us from Apollo simply being the greatest adventure in the history of humankind

That in itself is enough for me and I think trying to go back there as currently envisaged will be pointless & demean the original achievement.

My 2c worth ;-)

377375.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:20 pm Reply with quote

Everyone always goes on about technology from the space program (not literally always of course), but what I want to know is what wouldn't we have if it wasn't for WW2?

377383.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:54 pm Reply with quote

The 40th anniversary of "Dads Army"?

377450.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:44 pm Reply with quote

The space race engendered pretty much a wartime thrust to the development of technology. WW2 gave us the first staggerings into the world of electronic engineering, aeronautical engineering, engine design, large advances in chemistry and biotechnology etc.. All of which would have happened anyway just not on such a short timescale.

377454.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:47 pm Reply with quote

It is a sad statement, but nothing furthers technological advancement more than war.



377459.  Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:55 pm Reply with quote

Having just read The Gun Seller, I cannot agree with you more. Also, waiting for Stephen Fry's Making History to arrive at the library, and that mentions this too.

377571.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:46 am Reply with quote

One thing that occurred to me yesterday when I was discussing the moon landings at lunch (as you do) that maybe some people here with a better grasp of economics (i.e. almost anyone!) can answer.

Quite a lot is often made about what a colossal waste of money the moon landings were, when the same money could've built umpteen hospitals or schools or whatever. But how much did the moon landings actually cost the USA?

Firstly, the money was spent by the government. There's only one way the government can get money, and that's through taxing its populace. Now, as far as I'm aware, pretty much all that money was spent on subcontractors who were based in the USA. So really the government was taking the money off some people, and giving it to others, but the money didn't actually leave the country.

The only place I can see this breaking down is with the purchasing of some raw materials abroad, though I'm under the impression that the USA is pretty capable to producing a lot of its own raw materials too. Also, there was a small amount of hardware that was left up there on the moon. Apart from that, which must've been a pretty small percentage of the total spend, all that happened was that money was moved around a bit. All those schools and hospitals could still be made if the government just taxed those people who got rich from working on the space program.

So, how much did the moon landing actually cost the USA, or have I missed something really obvious?

377582.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:58 am Reply with quote

Nope you're right, now Iraq has cost much much more in every sense of the word cost.

377852.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:58 am Reply with quote

The Apollo program also produced a nice piece of 'technology in reverse'. The design engineers spent a zillion dollars developing a special camera to be used by the astronauts in airless conditions. When the design was presented, one of the non-engineers realised that what had been designed was effectively a standard large format SLR, a Hasselblad, so he went to the High Street camera shop and bought a Hasselblad for $600; put it in an airtight windowed box, with a simple sliding weight to work the lever by inverting the box. If you watch the mission videos, you will see the guy inverting the camera box for each shot. I think that similar technology is used for some underwater cameras.

377879.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:44 pm Reply with quote

Why would you invert the camera, weightless conditions?

377902.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:18 pm Reply with quote

I said airless conditions, like on the moon, where things do have weight, I believe, though I haven't been there to check that.

377914.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:04 pm Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
If you watch the mission videos, you will see the guy inverting the camera box for each shot. I think that similar technology is used for some underwater cameras.

Ah, thank you kindly, you just solved a puzzle for me! I was watching Kubrick's 2001 again recently and the scene at the moon monolith puzzled me - why was the cameraman inverting the camera before each shot like that??? Puzzle solved :-) Yet more of the Kubrick/Clarke prescience.

On a tangent, I think Apollo old-timers should actually feel flattered by the moon-hoax conspiracy theorists. It's confirmation of what an incredible (literally) thing they did that a small number of people don't believe it happened.

I wonder what the planet of the apes will make of any Apollo evidence 1,000 years from now?

377915.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:08 pm Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
I said airless conditions, like on the moon, where things do have weight, I believe, though I haven't been there to check that.

Ok misunderstood.

377994.  Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:53 pm Reply with quote

I'm not sure quartz crystals came from the apollo programme - I'm fairly sure that crystal oscillators rather pre-dated it.

But I go with the trickle-down thing. The Apollo programme is generally said to have consumed 4.5% of the US federal budget for 10 years. That's a heck of a lot of wonga - and most of it went into factories and engineering teams. Such teams do big things, and never forget what it's like to work with a sense of common purpose. The general effect on the economy was beneficial, and that in itself gave bigger benefits for healthcare and education than any american political initiative could ever have done (the americans are very resistant to concepts like state-provided healthcare).

What's even more remarkable is that the US funded the Apollo programe whilst also heavily committed in the Vietnam conflict.



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