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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Mar > Mar 18

Armstrong On The Apollo 11 UFO

From: Lan Fleming <lfleming6.nul>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 15:13:22 -0500
Fwd Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 07:08:56 -0400
Subject: Armstrong On The Apollo 11 UFO

James Smith asked about the source of an assertion I made that
Neil Armstrong had said that the object that he and the other
Apollo 11 astronauts saw was ahead of the spacecraft. This
seemed an important enough question that I went back and got the
book from the library on which I based that assertion to make
sure I got the details right. Below are some passages
transcribed from page 431 of First Man,  which is Neil
Armstrong's authorized biography. The author was James R.
Hansen. Hansen spends about two pages on this incident. I've
omitted Armstrong's polemics about UFO nuts and psychobabble
about how post-1947 UFO sightings were the result of Cold War
jitters. Here are the salient paragraphs:


In Armstrong's mind today, there is still no doubt that what
they all saw was a detached part of their own spacecraft. "We
did watch a slow blinking light some substantial distance away
from us. Mission Control eventually concluded - and I agree -
that it was one of the Saturn LM adapter panels. These panels
are enormous and would have been given a rotation in the process
of their ejection from the S-IVB. The reflection from these
panels would, therefore, be similar to blinking. I do not know
why we did not see the other three panels, but I suspect that
the one that was directly down from the Sun from us would have
provided the brightest reflection."

How the panel had kept up with the Apollo 11 spacecraft for over
two days - and in fact, was out in front of it - was a simple
matter of Newtonian physics. "When the SLA panels were ejected,"
Neil explains, "they had a very slight outward relative
velocity, but their velocity along the flight path was
essentially identical to that of the CSM-LM combination. The
panels, therefore, having no atmospheric drag to slow them,
traveled at the CSM-LM speed, but developed an ever-increasing
lateral separation from it."


As can be seen in the above text, Armstrong doesn't explicitly
say that the object they saw was ahead of the spacecraft; he
only implies it was down sun from the spacecraft. It is the
author, not Armstrong, who says that the panels were "out in
front of" the spacecraft.  But since this was an authorized
biography, presumably Armstrong was the source of Hansen's
explanation, which is incorrect.

As a simple matter of Newtonian physics, the combined effects of
the panel jettison velocity and the spacecraft's midcourse
correction makes the preferred NASA explanation virtually

At the distance of 577 miles computed by James Smith, the object
could have been no more than a featureless dot, even under the
magnification of the Apollo's 28-power telescope. It could not
have appeared to be shaped like an "open suitcase" as Armstrong
described it in the post-flight debriefing, or any discernible
shape at all. And of course, contrary to what the author
implies, Buzz Aldrin, at least, seemed to orignally have had
plenty of doubt that the object was an SLA panel because of its
observed shape.

Those difficulties with the panel explanation notwithstanding,
Armstrong's authorized biography says the object was an SLA
panel, Aldrin's own book said it was an SLA panel, and Mission
Control said it was an SLA panel, so that makes the panel
explanation a 'fact' carved in stone, even though it's almost
certainly wrong.

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