Apollo 11 men never returned Earth: Apollo 11 is rightly hailed as an extraordinary success for the United States. After all, NASA sent humans to the moon for the first time and brought them back alive to Earth. But there were quite a few catastrophes averted during this historic mission, which could have ended in tragedy. A few minutes before landing on the moon, for example, there were alarms inside the Space Shuttle indicating that the flight computer was overloaded and was about to stop. Then a surprise crater threatened to prevent landing. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (the two "moonwalkers") have exhausted almost all of their fuel by navigating to safer lunar spaces.
These and other stories - frozen fuel lines, a stuck trapdoor, a broken switch needed to leave the moon - are hugely shared by space flight enthusiasts and historians alike. But according to a forthcoming book, the three astronauts of the mission would have known a much greater danger than what was previously reported. A serious anomaly occurred when the crew was preparing to return to Earth, according to Nancy Atkinson, science journalist and author - who details previously classified information about this event in her new book entitled "Eight Years on the Moon: The History of the Apollo Missions "(which would give in French" Eight years on the Moon: the history of the Apollo missions ").
"Thanks to my interviews and research for the book, I discovered a serious anomaly that occurred when Apollo 11 returned to Earth," said Nancy Atkinson - whose book is published July 2 in the United States - Business Insider US. "The event was only discovered once the crew returned to Earth safely." The problem occurred just before the return of Apollo 11 to Earth. A rejected space module then almost crashed into the crew capsule. In addition, Nancy Atkinson's sources suggest that the same problem also threatened the crews of three other Apollo missions.
Apollo 11 men never returned Earth
The anomaly occurred less than an hour before the landing of Apollo 11. As Nancy Atkinson told NASA, most people did not realize how dangerous it was for astronauts several weeks after their return to Earth. For most of their eight-day mission, the Apollo 11 crew flew inside a ball-shaped capsule called a "control module". This capsule was based on the service module: a large cylinder carrying supplies, propellants and a large rocket engine. NASA has named this spacecraft "Command and Service Module", or "CSM" in English.
The CSM has launched a third part, called lunar module, in lunar orbit. Then, this lander brought Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the surface, while astronaut Michael Collins remained in orbit around the moon. The CSM then propelled everyone to Earth for a three-day trip.
About 15 minutes before the astronauts crash into the Pacific Ocean, the CSM split into two parts. This was necessary because only the control module (which contained the crew) was equipped with a heat shield. The heat shield protected astronauts by deflecting and absorbing the burning energies generated by traveling the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of about 25,000 mph, more than a dozen times the speed of a ball.
The service module became useless and presented a risk of collision after the separation of the two parts. He was supposed to deviate from the earth's atmosphere like a rock thrown on the surface of a basin. But that was not the case.
The service module broke into glowing pieces
As Nancy Atkinson explains, the service module tracked the astronauts during their descent. "Houston, we're going through the service module, a little bit higher up and a little more to the right," Radio Buzz Aldrin, who was looking out the control module window, said. Moments later, he added, "He is now moving from right to left."
As the plasma formed upstream of the capsule, its radio communications went out temporarily (as expected) while preventing astronauts from giving more details. But an airplane pilot spotted the control module and the service module. The latter was breaking up and breaking into glowing pieces.
Gary Johnson, who worked as an electrical engineer in the Apollo program, told Nancy Atkinson that the service module "should never have been near the control module" as it was coming down. Had it collided with the command module carrying the astronauts, it could have paralyzed or destroyed the vehicle or sent it out of control. Parts of the service module being disintegrated could also have hit the capsule, which would also have led to a disaster, wrote Nancy Atkinson.
"If things went wrong, we could have lost the Apollo 11 team," Gary Johnson told Nancy Atkinson. "We were lucky."
Astronauts, mission controllers and communications staff did not understand that there was a problem before NASA reported on the mission with the three lunar travelers a few weeks later.
NASA opened an investigation based on their reports and discovered that two previous missions - Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 - had suffered the same problem. Nancy Atkinson writes that these astronauts had not seen the service module outside their windows. They did not report it. This is a review of old radar recordings that showed that the service modules of these missions were also flying dangerously close to the control modules.
The cause of the problem turned out to be a bad sequence in a controller that helped to dump, or separate, the command and service modules. NASA knew that the same problem had been introduced into the Apollo 12 spacecraft, launched in November 1969, but had decided not to repair it because of time constraints, said Nancy Atkinson.
According to Gary Johnson, NASA kept the Apollo 11 astronauts' debriefings secret for a while. An official report on the anomaly was published in November 1970 - about six months after the painful Apollo 13 mission - and managed to stay out of the newspapers.
"The event was never included in the Apollo 11 mission reports and was largely forgotten - I think because of the frenzy of time, the need to move on to the next flight, etc.", said Nancy Atkinson. "The first correction of this anomaly was in place for Apollo 13. And of course, you know what happened to Apollo 13, and I think the anomaly has probably been largely forgotten because of all this excitement."