40 Years after Apollo 11: July 17
Originally written on July 17th, 2009…
Apollo launched yesterday and spent a little time in Earth orbit to make sure everything was working. Now, they’ve fired the stage four rocket to blast out of Earth orbit and head for the Moon, which will take a couple of days.
Getting into space and getting to the Moon isn’t really a matter of going “up,” like you see in the movies. It’s really more a matter of going faster. To get into Earth orbit, that is, to get up into space and not just fall back down because of Earth’s gravity, you have to be going about 17,500 miles per hour. So rockets like Apollo’s Saturn V or the space shuttle aren’t spending all their energy just getting up and out of Earth’s atmosphere. More importantly, they’re gaining speed, so they can hit that magic 17,500 mph and counteract Earth’s gravity and stay up.
If you want to go to the Moon, you have to go even faster, so you can escape Earth’s gravity altogether. When the stage four rocket was fired, their speed increased to 25,000 mph, enough to do the job. They were the fastest Humans alive.
Time for some road trip pictures.