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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Feb > Feb 24

An E-Mail To BadAstronomy On Apollo 11 UFO

From: Lan Fleming <lfleming6.nul>
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 11:56:11 -0600
Fwd Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 13:31:40 -0500
Subject: An E-Mail To BadAstronomy On Apollo 11 UFO


I recently found out some interesting things about the object
seen by Apollo 11 astronauts that make its identification as a
panel ejeccted from the Saturn booster seem not so open and shut
as some people believe, including Dr Phil Plait, who wrote a
snarky article about it on his web site:

http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/firstonthemoon.html

I emailed Plait about what I found out a week ago but I haven't
heard back from him. I guess he's too busy answering his fan
mail (that's me being snarky).

What I found most interesting about this case is that Buzz
Aldrin clearly said something different about the incident in
private during the astronauts' debriefing from what he said
later on when it became public knowledge and NASA needed a
quicky explanation. I found his original statement where he
dismissed the panel as an explanation on the UFO UpDates List
here at:

http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2002/jan/m13-008.shtml

That he later changed his story and identified the object as a
booster panel is proof that astranauts aren't always on the
level when they talk to the public about UFOs.

Here's the email I sent to Plait:

-----

Dr. Plait,

With reference to your article "First on the Moon: The Untold
Story" concerning the identification of an object seen by the
Apollo 11 astronauts on Day 2 of the mission, Buzz Aldrin now
says that the object was a panel from the S-IVB booster. But
this identification does not seem quite as conclusive as has
been made out.

First, according to NASA:

http://history.nasa.gov/ap15fj/03tde.htm

"Once the panels have rotated about 45=B0 from the centreline of
the launch vehicle, the hinges disengage, allowing the springs
within the hinge assembly to push the panels away at about 2.5
m/s, leaving the LM exposed on top of the Saturn's third stage."


http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11transcript_tec.pdf

The mission voice transcript indicates that the panels were
ejected some time before MET Day 0 at 03:17. The astronauts
queried mission control about the whereabouts of the S-IVB on
Day 2 at 12:45. So it appears that 2 days, 9 hours and 28
minutes elapsed between the panel separation and the sighting
of the object.

If the panels were traveling at a speed of 2.5 m/s relative to
the Apollo spacecraft, the distance between the panels and the
spacecraft would have been about 517 km, or 320 miles after
that amount of time.

The panels are about 20 feet in length, so from a distance of
320 miles, one of them would be about 2.5 arc seconds in angular
size. Through the command module's 28-power sextant telescope,
the panel would appear to be about 1.2 arc minutes in size.
Since the resolution of the human eye is about 0.7 arc minutes,
it seems highly unlikely that the astronauts would have been
able to discern any shape at all to the object. It would more
likely have appeared as a dot through the telescope.

Maybe the complexities of orbital mechanics could cause the
distance of the panels to be closer to the spacecraft than 320
miles, but this hardly seems to be a "case closed" situation
regarding the identification of the object seen as an S-IVB
panel.

It's also interesting that in the original debriefing after the
mission, Aldrin seemed to dismiss the panels as an explanation
of what they saw. He stated:

"We thought it could have been a panel, but it didn't appear to
have that shape (an 'open book') at all." [Apollo 11 The NASA
Mission Reports - Volume Two, Robert Godwin]. What caused Aldrin
to change his mind later and decide that the object was one of
the panels has not been explained.

Now, an object shaped like an open book or an open suitcase, as
Armstrong described it, hardly is the shape one would expect of
an alien spacecraft, so maybe the object was a strap or some
other piece of debris that had been traveling along with the
spacecraft from the time of the booster separation. But it seems
this incident is now and probably always will be a sighting of
an unidentified object in space.

Sincerely,

Lan Fleming

-----



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