The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (Apollo Quartet) (9 page)

BOOK: The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (Apollo Quartet)
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Ares 4
The last test mission for the Ares programme, its crew of three spent eighteen months aboard the spacecraft flyby simulator in order to verify its long-term habitability. Crew: Alan L Bean (CDR), Jack R Lousma (pilot) and Owen Garriott (science pilot). Launched 15 October 1977.

 

Ares 5 to 7
In order to reach the required velocity for its journey to Mars, the Ares 9 stack required three S-IVB stages for its Mars Orbit Injection burns. The launches were made in quick succession since the LOX/LH2 fuel was only viable for sixty days in orbit before boil-off reduced it to levels inadequate for the mission. The crews aboard the CSMs built the Ares 9 stack and remained in orbit until its departure. Crews: Ares 5, David Scott (CDR), Gerald P Carr (pilot) and Edward Gibson (science pilot); Ares 6, Thomas P Stafford (CDR), Vance D Brand (pilot) and Donald K ‘Deke’ Slayton (science pilot); and Ares 7, Richard F Gordon (CDR), Paul J Weitz (pilot) and Don L Lind (science pilot). Launched 27 September 1979, 3 October 1979 and 14 October 1979.

 

Ares 8
The first part of the manned portion of the Ares 9 stack, carrying the Mars Module and the heatshield needed for the MM to land on the Martian surface. The heatshield was carried to orbit folded and needed to be extended and then its adaptor bolted to the descent stage of the MM. Like Ares 5 through 7, the crew remained in orbit until Ares 9’s departure. This put fourteen astronauts in LEO at the same time, the most people in orbit at one time by the US or USSR up to that point. Crew: Fred W Haise (CDR), Stuart A Roosa (pilot) and William R Pogue (science pilot). Launched 28 October 1979.

 

Ares 9
The first, and to date only, manned mission to Mars. It was based on the Flyby-Landing Excursion Mode mission, using upgraded spacecraft originally built for Apollo lunar landings. The Ares 9 launch put into LEO the mission’s CSM and flyby spacecraft, a modified S-IVB, improved after lessons learned operating the Ares 1 flyby simulator. Once the stack had been bolted together, it was boosted on a conjunction-class mission, with a free-return trajectory, to the Red Planet. Thirty days out from Mars, the Mars Module – an uprated Lunar Module, strengthened and provisioned, and with a crew of one – undocked and continued on alone to Mars and a landing on the surface. The Ares flyby spacecraft passed within 150 miles of the planet as it swung about it and headed back to Earth. The MM spent nine days on the surface, before launching into orbit and then catching up with the flyby spacecraft for the 537-day return flight. Crew: Bradley E Elliott (CDR) and Robert F Walker (pilot). Callsigns: Command Module
Endeavour
(CM-120), Mars Module
Discovery
(LM-12). Launched 14 November 1979, landed on Mars 23 March 1980. Duration on Martian surface 221h 38m 17s.

 

Earth Two
The name by which Gliese 876 d is officially known. The surface temperature at the equator is 325 K (125ºF) and far too hot for human habitation. The only human settlement, Phaeton Base, is in the north polar region, where temperatures are no hotter than the equatorial regions of Earth. Datum air pressure is 18.43 psi, but there is no oxygen in the atmosphere. To date, the only water discovered is deep beneath the surface, and no signs of life have been found.

 

Element 115
A superheavy synthetic element used to power the Serpo engine. Under intense antiproton bombardment, the strong nuclear force of the Element 115 nucleus is amplified, resulting in a local distortion of the spacetime continuum.

 

The Face on Mars
The name given a rock formation in the Cydonia region on Mars. In 1976, the Viking 1 orbiter took a series of photographs of the Martian surface. In image #35A72, scientists spotted a mesa 1.2 miles long which appeared to resemble a humanoid face. Initially dismissed as a “trick of light and shadow”, a second photograph, image #70A13, with a different sun-angle, only heightened the likeness. It was considered sufficiently puzzling to choose Cydonia as the landing site for the Ares 9 mission. Many of the photographs taken by Major Bradley Elliott on the Martian surface remain classified.

 

Fermi’s Paradox
Named for the physicist Enrico Fermi, who first postulated it in an informal discussion in 1950, the Paradox hypothesises a contradiction between the probability of the existence of alien civilisations and the lack of evidence that such civilisations exist.

 

Flyby-Landing Excursion Module (FLEM)
Proposed in 1966 by RR Titus of United Aircraft Research Laboratories as a means of getting a manned spacecraft to Mars quickly and cheaply. It was based in part on the flyby missions proposed by the Planetary Joint Action Group, which included members from NASA and NASA planning contractor, Bellcomm. Planetary JAG plans focused primarily on a flyby mission using a free-return trajectory, but Titus calculated that a piloted MM could separate from the flyby spacecraft during the Mars voyage and change course to intersect the planet. A separation 60 days out from Mars would result in a 16-day stay on the Martian surface, or a separation 30 days out would give a 9-day stay on the surface. The MM would then launch, pursue the flyby spacecraft and rendezvous. Titus proposed that a nuclear-thermal rocket weighing as little as 130 tons, with a 5-ton lander, could make the trip. In the event, since research on nuclear rockets had been abandoned, the Ares spacecraft was forced to use existing chemical rockets, and the final design weighed in at 200 tons, with a 16-ton Mars Module.

 

Gliese 876
A red dwarf star in the constellation of Aquarius located some 15.3 light years from Earth, and formerly known as Ross 780. In 1983, an exploratory mission to the star by the interstellar spacecraft Robert H Goddard discovered four planets: three Jupiters and a Super-Earth. Since the Super-Earth orbited within the star’s habitable zone, it was deemed a suitable location for a scientific station, and the following year a series of prefabricated modules were flown to the exoplanet and parachuted to its surface.

 

James E Webb
The second interstellar spacecraft built by the USA, and named for the second administrator of NASA, 1961 to 1968, who was seen as the chief architect of the Apollo programme. It uses the Near-Earth Asteroid 3908 Nyx as its anchoring mass, and made its first interstellar flight in 1988 to Barnard’s Star.

 

L5 Space Telescope
With the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in late 1986, approaching the end of its usefulness, it was decided its successor should be located at the L5 point alongside Space Station Freedom. Not only would this make it easier to maintain, but also greatly improve its ability to see many more and much older stars and galaxies. Development began in 1993, and the first elements were launched in mid-1998. The telescope, informally known as the L5T, officially went online in early 1999.

 

Phaeton Base
Earth’s only extrasolar colony, a scientific station on Gliese 876 d, with a population of eighty scientists and support staff. The base comprises a dozen buildings linked by all-weather corridors, a buried nuclear power plant, a launchpad and a rocket assembly building. The base was named for the son of sun god Helios, who drove his father’s chariot and nearly burned the Earth – a reference to Gliese 876 d’s red-lit landscape. The first buildings of Phaeton Base were parachuted from orbit in April 1984, and it has been continually inhabited since that date.

 

Project Serpo
The codename for a secret programme, based at the S4 facility at Area 51, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which investigated the photographs of the alien disc and its writings, known as the Cydonia Codex, brought back from Mars by Major Bradley E Elliott. Once the writing system had been deciphered, project scientists discovered they had instructions explaining how to manipulate bubbles of quantum spacetime. A working model, powered by antimatter and element 115, was quickly constructed. The complete disappearance of the prototype from its remote underground testing site, as well as a substantial quantity of rock and soil, revealed the true nature of the device: a faster than light engine. Further honing of the theories involved revealed the need for an anchoring mass of at least five gigatonnes. The FTL engine was nicknamed the “Serpo” after the project.

 

Quantum Superposition
A fundamental principle of quantum mechanics which holds that a physical system, an electron for example, exists in all its theoretically possible states simultaneously. When measured, however, it only gives a result corresponding to one of those possible configurations.

 

Robert H Goddard
The first interstellar spacecraft built by the US, and named for the American rocket pioneer, 1882 to 1945. The Robert H Goddard uses as its anchoring mass the asteroid 1862 Apollo, and performed its first flight in 1984 to Proxima Centauri.

 

S4
Also known as Sector-4, S4 is a facility at Area 51, located near Papoose Lake, a dry lake bed, some 10 miles from Groom Lake. All details regarding S4 are classified.

 

Schrödinger’s Cat
A thought experiment designed to illustrate what Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger saw as a problem with the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. It supposes a cat in a sealed chamber with a radioactive substance and a vial of poison. The radioactive substances has an equal chance of emitting a particle within a set period of time. If a particle is emitted, it triggers a device which releases the poison and so kills the cat. Due to quantum superposition – in this case applied erroneously to the macro level – the cat exists both dead and alive… until it is observed, ie, the sealed chamber is open. The act of observation causes the wave function to collapse and renders the cat either dead or alive, but no longer both.

 

Serpo
The faster than light engine which allows the Robert H Goddard, James E Webb and Thomas O Paine to travel interstellar distances in short time periods. The first working model was used on the Near-Earth Asteroid 1862 Apollo which thus became the first human interstellar spacecraft, the Robert H Goddard. The Serpo creates a sealed bubble of quantum spacetime about the anchoring mass, and then accelerates the spacetime bubble to speeds greater than the speed of light. Since light within the bubble does not exceed c, general relativity and causality is not violated.

 

Skylab
After the departure of the Ares 9 mission for Mars in November 1979, NASA decided to keep what had originally been the flyby spacecraft simulator and was now known as the OWS. It was renamed “Skylab” and from 1980 onwards was kept continually manned. In late 1982, Skylab was boosted to L5 by a S-IVB, ostensibly to improve the usefulness of its recently-fitted space telescope and to act as a base of operations for a mission to a Near-Earth Asteroid. Skylab remained in operation while Space Station Freedom was being built, and it was not until 1988 that the real reason for its move to L5 was admitted.

 

Space Station Freedom
By 1979 and the launch of the Ares 9 mission, the USSR had put six Salyut space stations in orbit. With the discovery of the Serpo engine, and its requirement for a five million ton anchoring mass, the US found it too needed some form of permanently-manned space presence, preferably one with access to Near-Earth Asteroids. In 1982, Skylab was boosted out to the L5 point, and then in the five years following it was used as a base to build a larger and more permanent space station. Space Station Freedom is currently home to eight NASA astronauts on six-month tours of duty.

 

Thomas O Paine
The third interstellar spacecraft built by the US, and named for the NASA administrator, 1968 to 1981, who was instrumental in seeing the Ares programme to completion. The Thomas O Paine uses as its anchoring mass the conjoined asteroids 1566 Icarus and 1950 DA. It performed its first flight in 1994 to Epsilon Eridani.

 

Zond 1 to 3
These three launches were unmanned tests of the Zond mission hardware: the N1 launch vehicle, Soyuz 7K-L3 LOK and LK. They did not leave Low Earth Orbit.

 

Zond 4
An unmanned test of the Soyuz 7K-L3 LOK, which saw the spacecraft orbit the Moon and return safely to Earth. Launched 2 March 1968.

 

Zond 5
A repeat of the Zond 4 flight, but this time the spacecraft contained animal specimens - turtles and insects. They were returned safely to Earth. Launched 15 September 1968.

 

Zond 6
A manned test of the Zond spacecraft, with both a Soyuz 7K-L3 Lunniy Orbitalny Korabl and a docked Lunniy Korabl. The mission had been intended to be a world first, putting men in lunar orbit, but Apollo 8 beat the Soviets to it in December 1968. No attempt was made to undock the LK while in orbit about the Moon, and a scheduled EVA to test the procedure by which a cosmonaut transferred from the LOK to the lunar lander was aborted after problems with Filipchenko’s Krechet-94 spacesuit. Crew: Anatoly Vasilyevich Filipchenko and Alexei Stanislavovich Yeliseyev. Launched 21 February 1969.

 

Zond 7
The fourth Soviet lunar mission, and the first to land a man on the surface of the Moon, at Mare Fecunditatis. Crew: Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov and Nikolay Nikolayevich Rukavishnikov. Callsigns: Soyuz 7K-L3 LOK
Rodina
, LK
Zarya
. Launched 3 July 1969, landed on Moon 7 July 1969. Duration on lunar surface 25h 9m 17s.

 

Zond 8
The fifth and last Soviet lunar mission, to Le Monnier, a crater in Mare Serenitatis. The Soviet cosmonauts were military pilots and engineers, not scientists, and unlike the US programme, science had never been an objective for the Soviets in their race to put a man on the Moon. Zond 8 demonstrated that Leonov’s achievement was repeatable and that the USSR had the capability to land someone on the lunar surface on demand. Once that point had been proven, the Soviet space programme turned its attention to space stations in Low Earth Orbit. Crew: Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev and Oleg Grigoryevich Makarov. Callsigns: Soyuz 7K-L3 LOK
Ural
, LK
Znamya
. Launched 12 November 1969, landed on Moon 15 November 1969. Duration on lunar surface 23h 56m 41s.

BOOK: The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (Apollo Quartet)
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