Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Village Idiot Gets it Wrong Again...

For the last several years, a person Richard C. Hoagland and I not so affectionately refer to as the "Village Idiot" has tried to gain attention for himself by attacking literally everything we do. No matter what the source or medium, he tries to take issue with what we say or propose, usually by arguing some obscure or immaterial point, or even redefining what we say and then trying to make us defend statements we never made.

Every so often, just for the sake of accuracy, I find it necessary to respond to these idiotic claims in some public way. Not to give him and his sycophants the attention they crave, but just for the record. His recent assertions about a passage in Dark Mission are just the latest in a long line of absurdities that he has raised.

In that volume, we asserted that the Apollo 10 Lunar Module, nicknamed Snoopy, was fully capable of landing on the lunar surface, and that the only reason it did not was because NASA short fueled the vehicle to prevent it from doing so. Obviously, if the real reason for going to the Moon was to beat the Soviets, as is publically claimed by NASA historians, there is no logical reason why the first mission capable of making the landing should not have done so. As we put it in Dark Mission:

"With all of the primary technical and mission planning components having been tested and proven out, the next mission was a full-up dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. Launched on May 18, 1969, Apollo 10 acted as a pathfinder for Apollo 11’s “Eagle,” following the same descent path that Apollo 11 would two months later. Eventually, Thomas P. Stafford piloted Snoopy to within 8.4 miles of the lunar surface (about 44,000 feet), prompting Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan to comment ominously; “Man, we’s getting down among them.”
Given that their altitude was nearly 50,000 feet above the lunar surface, we can’t help but wonder what Cernan was talking about. At that altitude, lunar surface features, even mountains, would be obscure and far away. However, given where Stafford and Cernan were at that moment, passing through Sinus Medii and heading on toward Mare Smythii, the only thing they could have been “down among” – at 50,000 feet – would be Hoagland’s theorized miles-high glass domes. Undeniably, the location and the altitude would be correct for that to be what Cernan was talking about.
This bizarre comment also raises the other strangely incongruent aspect of Apollo10; while the spacecraft was theoretically fully capable of landing on the Moon, inexplicably, it was not given the capability to do so.
Not only was the Mission denied the fuel to make a safe lunar landing (the tanks on-board were literally only half-filled), but the LM “Snoopy” was a crippled version of the “real” vehicle, unable to physically land on the lunar surface.
Politically, this really makes no sense.
Still in a fierce race with the Soviet Union to be the first to land a man on the Moon, Apollo 10 had everything necessary to accomplish this long sought after political goal – except the tools to do so. The Saturn V, the LM and the CSM had all been tested on previous missions, and the NASA long-distance (lunar) communications network was tested on Apollo 8. There was no practical, canonical reason not to land Apollo 10. With only two more shots at making the goal before Kennedy’s “end of the decade,” the question is, why wait?
As he delved ever deeper into the arcane, Egyptian mysteries surrounding these supposedly secular, “scientific and engineering” NASA missions, Hoagland finally found his answer:
Because it wasn’t “time” yet.
It finally occurred to Hoagland that there had to be a “hidden reason”—a ceremonial reason quite likely—why Apollo 10 was prevented from carrying out the Mission it was so capable of accomplishing, and thus achieving Kennedy’s Goal with plenty of margin for error if something went wrong.
Perhaps it had something to do with the date of July 20th, or the project patch, the odd “communion ceremony,” or maybe (as he found out with Alan Shepard and America’s first manned sub-orbital flight, back in 1961 …) the men themselves -- Armstrong and Aldrin – had, for some reason, been pre-selected.
Or maybe, it was all of those things."
In an email to me last summer, the Village Idiot made the following assertion:
"On p. 280 of your book Dark Mission, discussing the Apollo 10 mission, you write of the Apollo 10 Lunar Module "while the spacecraft was theoretically fully capable of landing on the moon, inexplicably, it was not given the capability to do so."

There is, in fact, nothing inexplicable about this. Snoopy was too heavy -- or, to be strictly accurate, would have been too heavy if it had been fully fueled. Please see the Apollo 10 Press Kit p. 44.

Will you be able to issue a retraction?"
Again, I get something like this from him or his fellow idiots at least once a week. As always, it is simply wrong on a whole series of levels.
First of all, there is nothing on page 44 of the Apollo 10 press kit that says anything about the Lunar Module Snoopy being "too heavy" to either land on or take off from the lunar surface. This is a complete fabrication of the Village Idiot.

Second, the only weight that matters in determining the capability of Snoopy to land safely on the lunar surface is the dry weight of the ASCENT STAGE, as that is the only relevant factor (in terms of weight) in determining the safety of a successful liftoff from the lunar surface. As you can see from the charts below, "Snoopy's" Ascent Stage was actually LIGHTER than "Eagle's," putting the lie to his whole idiotic thesis and meaning that there was no reason that "Snoopy" could not have successfully landed and lifted off again from the lunar surface, just as "Eagle" did. All of the excess weight was in the descent stage, which if anything, probably makes for a lower center of gravity and a more stable vehicle. But I digress.
The 2nd chart shows that "Snoopy's" weight was not excessive in any way, shape or form. While overall with the Ascent/Descent stages joined for the landing it was slightly heavier than "Eagle" by a meager 197 pounds (2%), it was still lighter than the Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 LM's. In fact, the Apollo 17 LM, "Challenger," outweighed "Snoopy" by over 1,400 pounds, mostly due to the Lunar Rover.
What this means is that Snoopy was easily within every design\performance parameter necessary for a successful landing on the Moon and return to orbit. The only reason that didn't happen was because NASA short fueled it on purpose. This makes no sense if the real reason for going to the Moon was the political race with the Soviets. Apollo 10 could have easily landed and returned safely. But as we know, and as Mr. Hoagland and I put in the book, "It wasn't time yet."
If these simple facts aren't enough, let's just go to the source, shall we? Apollo 10 Lunar Module pilot Gene Cernan is unequivocal in stating that NASA took special precautions to assure that Apollo 10 did not land on the lunar surface:
Apollo 10 Lunar Module pilot Gene Cernan
“A lot of people thought about the kind of people we were: 'Don't give those guys an opportunity to land, 'cause they might!' So the ascent module, the part we lifted off the lunar surface with, was short-fueled. The fuel tanks weren't full. So had we literally tried to land on the Moon, we couldn't have gotten off.”
-- Source: Nelson, Craig (2009). Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-02103-1.
So once again, the Village Idiot is proven completely wrong. Hopefully, we can all take his (and his associates) similar claims with the gigantic grain of salt they deserve from here on out.


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