Wednesday, February 15, 2012

First man on the moon and the Case for Mars

Here are two “science” books that I recently read. If you are fan of space science / aerospace/ space travel, you might enjoy them too.

First Man – The Life of Neil Armstrong by James Hansen. Simon and Schuster. 770 pp.
This is the authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon. It is a very fascinating book that tells the life story of Armstrong as well as the Apollo mission – narrating the tragedies, mishaps and successes of the historic mission. It also corrects some of the myths surrounding Armstrong’s journey to the Moon. BTW, James Hansen, formerly historian at NASA, is now a professor of history at Auburn University.

Interesting facts include :
  • When he went to the moon, Armstrong was a civilian. Most other astronauts who went to the Moon were from the Air Force or the Navy. (Armstrong was in the Navy earlier and served in the Korean War. However he left the Navy after that war)
  • Armstrong was a King Scout during his younger days.
  • He has an M.Sc in aerospace engineering
  • Armstrong's first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966
  • Armstrong was 39 years old when he walked on the moon.
  • Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent more than 21 hours on the lunar surface – of which only slightly more than 2 hours were spent outside the lunar module.
  • Armstrong and Aldrin brought back 21.5 kg of moon rocks.
  • Armstrong was hardly a religious person. Nevertheless various rumors persisted about his religious leanings including the rumor that he supposedly converted to Islam after returning from the moon.
  • After returning from the Moon, Armstrong took up a job at NASA for a short while. He then quit and become a professor at University of Cincinnati.
  • In 1985, Neil Armstrong went to the North Pole with Sir Edmund Hillary, the world-famous climber of Mt Everest.
  • The story about him and Mr Gorsky is not true.
  • The book also dwells into details why Neil Armstrong was chosen to set foot on the Moon first instead of Buzz Aldrin.
BTW, Neil Armstrong is still alive. Aged 81.

Those of you who think the Moon landing was a hoax, please go here.

The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin. Free Press. 381 pp.
Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society and a renowned aerospace engineer, explains why we should and can go to Mars. Zubrin convincingly argues that we can go to Mars with the technology that we already have. He explains the risks, challenges of the journey to Mars and how we can one day live on the Red Planet.
Zubrin was the driving force behind Mars Direct—a proposal intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of a mission to Mars. The idea was to use the Martian atmosphere to produce oxygen, water, and rocket propellant for the surface stay and return journey. [note : the Martian atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide. You can produce methane from CO2 and hydrogen]. The book also reveals possible Mars colony designs and weighs the prospects for a colony's material self-sufficiency and for terraforming Mars. Fascinating book.

Monyet King also says
1. In case you were wondering, the moon is not made of cheese. I thought I should clarify this becase the standard of science in our schools have gone down substantially.

2. Our angkasawan did NOT go to the Moon. He went to the International Space Station which is about 350 km above the earth. The Moon is about 400,000 km away.

4. The Mars chocolate bar is NOT made in Mars.


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Excuse me. What's this about the moon, Mars and cheese??? Focus, OK? We are sending people to the SUN!!! purrr...meow!

Monyet King said...

One of these days we are going to send a cat to the Sun

Anonymous said...

By all means sent our political 'toads' to matahari at NIGHT which is cooler !

fyi : umpteen centuries ago a Chinese lady named Chang-Er sudah landed in moon without any means of rocket ...she is still there with a white rabbit...ok !