Steve Jurvetson, on the recurring nightmare Neil Armstrong had for two years leading up to Apollo 11


44 Responses to “Steve Jurvetson, on the recurring nightmare Neil Armstrong had for two years leading up to Apollo 11”

  1. Dan Hibiki says:

    Wasn’t the actual reason, that the two pipes mixing the liquids were of different length and as a result the thrust was uneven and made the module constantly wobble. So as a result you had to have constant adjustments that were done manually. So in essence the module had to be farted off the moon by astronauts.

    • Tim Neal says:

      “farted off the moon,” that’s awesome!

    • pizzicato says:

      I really like to believe it wobble and farted off the moon because it was how best to do it… Engineers engineering for a reason, there are often loads of quirky stuff engineers dig, e.g. fudge factors.

      • Dan Hibiki says:

         You’d like to thanks so, but they were under a very tight deadline and it was just quicker to train a pilot to steer an unbalanced lunar module off the moon then it would have been to re-engineer it or to design a working automatic system.

  2. Halloween_Jack says:

    It probably would have been devastating for me as a kid to hear that Tang was a lie–I drank it as avidly as Ralphie drank Ovaltine in A Christmas Story. It just made sense to me that we had a special drink for the Space Age. 

  3. Boundegar says:

    Was my comment deleted for a reason, or was it a glitch?  I just asked what the x-ray photo is, at the top of the post?

  4. karlfrankjr says:

    Xeni, I attempted to email you as well.  In honor of Neil Armstrong’s accomplishments and inspired by his recent passing, I am part of a group petitioning the White House to rededicate Columbus Day to Exploration Day.

    We are hoping to get you on board.  For more information, visit or

  5. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Well, anybody who’d ever heard of the Messerschmidt ME-163 would have nightmares about riding a hypergolic rocket.  I can’t fault him for that, I’d want a manual lockout too.

  6. Jim Kelly says:

    Dunno about “farting off the moon” – although it is a great image. Here’s Armstrong explaining the LEM’s motion in an oral history interview with Stephen Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley:

    “The thing that surprised me—and we knew this ahead of time—the attitude control in space, to pitch the craft you use a—say you wanted to pitch up, you would use a down-pointing rocket in the front and an up-pointing rocket in the back. That would pitch the craft up. But we didn’t want any rockets firing up when we’re accelerating away from the Moon, because that would be wasting fuel. So we would only use the down-pointing rockets because they would be adding to our velocity, would be fuel-efficient.

    But the result of that is that there’s a substantial rocking motion. As you pitch forward, the pitch-up thruster fires, lifts your nose up, then it stops, then the nose falls down again and the rocket fires as though you’re in a rocking chair.”

  7. Jim Kelly says:

    One other thing about the ascent engine: I seem to remember Aldrin once saying that if it *hadn’t* lit, he would have started banging on it with a hammer – its housing projected up into the cabin of the LEM.

  8. BrandB says:

    Check out this panorama of the Lunar Module interior See that circular thing in the back? That’s the engine cover for the ascent engine. Astronauts sat, slept and stored gear on it. 

  9. Jake0748 says:

    Yer link is busted there, BrandB.  Dang, I wanted to see that!

  10. Henry Pootel says:

    “Here’s me staring at camera with big smile next to person who doesn’t care!” 


    I’d rather see the, “Here I am with famous person talking in a picture someone took without me being aware of it” or “Here’s me actually being more interested in that person next to me than the fact I’m mugging with this Tang!”

    The guy appears to take more value out of having brought the Tang thinking it was funny than meeting the man.

  11. Apollo crews did have access to a procedure which could be used to “hot wire” the ascent stage pyros if the batteries were unable to fire them and get fuel flowing to the engines. I believe it involved running a two conductor cable from a battery in the descent stage to the back of a circuit breaker in the ascent stage. It would have to be done in vacuum because the cable would have come in through the door. As soon as the pyros fired the ascent stage would launch so the cable would be pulled out of the astronauts hand at that point.

    [Schmitt - "There was also a plan for using one of the OPSs if we had to hot-wire the LM. This last-ditch procedure was to take a line out to the batteries in the Descent Stage to Gene's circuit breaker panel to open the propellant valves. You didn't make the connection to the circuit breaker panel right away; because, as soon as you did, he valves would open and you'd be on your way. So you'd come back in (after connecting the wire to the batteries) and then, when you were finally ready to go, you'd touch the circuit breakers and hot-wire the hypergolic valves in the Ascent Stage. I think we went through hat drill once to know where the batteries were."]

    Link to the ALSJ

    • Jim Kelly says:

      Think about doing that *in spacesuit gloves*. I assume the cable was pretty thick…

      One more thing to add to the Ultimate Resume: “If necessary, can hotwire a lunar module.”

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