Archive for February 21st, 2011

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“Apollo 18” question

February 21, 2011

So there’s the trailer. The film opens in April. So…one question:

How did they launch a frackin’ SATURN V IN SECRET?!

I’ve only witnessed one shuttle launch. I was in ORLANDO. You could see the shuttle launch easily from FIFTY MILES AWAY.

The Saturn V was much more powerful. It’s been said that fifty miles away, when launched at night, the illumination from the five F-1 engines was bright enough for you to read newspaper fine print. I’ve also heard it was the loudest man-made sound except for nuclear explosions. Minimum safe distance from the launch site was three and a half miles.

There were only two launch pads built to handle the Saturn V – Pads 39A and B, which were converted for the shuttle later. The sound suppression water system alone was amazing. The vehicle required a specially-constructed building to put the stack together (the VAB) and a specially-constructed transporter that also served as part of the launch pad. They only built two of those. They are the very same ones still being used for the shuttle, and were to be used for Ares as well.

Granted, there was a launch pad at Vandenberg AFB in California that was converted, at great taxpayer expense, to launch shuttles into polar orbits. This was done mainly for launching surveillance satellites. It was never used. The Air Force decided to loft those satellites with dumb boosters instead.

Still, Vandenberg is pretty close to Los Angeles. It’s not out in the middle of nowhere. If you could launch a Saturn V from there (and you couldn’t), more people would see it, not fewer.

OK, we’ll find out on April 22. I really hope this movie doesn’t suck.

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