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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Mar > Mar 19

Re: Armstrong On The Apollo 11 UFO - Fleming

From: Lan Fleming <lfleming6.nul>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 22:33:41 -0500
Fwd Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 05:50:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Armstrong On The Apollo 11 UFO - Fleming

>From: James Smith <lunartravel.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 11:13:30 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
>Subject: Re: Armstrong On The Apollo 11 UFO

>>From: Lan Fleming <lfleming6.nul>
>>To: UFOUpdates <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 15:13:22 -0500
>>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.

>Thanks for getting this text.

>>"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."

>The Sun would have been at an angle about 90 degrees from the
>CSM flight path and assuming that the orientation of the CSM/S-
>IVB at panel jettison was correct, one panel would have been
>Sunward. One needs to check the attitude at jettison since we
>have no reports of seeing the panels tumble away prior to
>midcourse correction.

That implies that Armstrong thought the object was also 90
degrees from the flight path in the direction opposite the sun.
I don't see that would necessarily put it ahead of the
spacecraft as the author said.

>It is an excellent point about the other three panels. Although
>they would have separated somewhat from each other, they surely
>would have been within the field of view.

>I do not buy the "brightest reflection" business. A tumbling
>panel (which they all should have been) would be at some point a
>good angle to reflect the sunlight significantly. These are not
>specular reflections, they are only reflections of light from
>"white" surfaces.

Lambertian (non-specular) surfaces do reflect more light when
the sun is at a higher angle relative to the surface, so
Armstrong may have had a point there.

>Another point that bothers me about the panel explanation is
>that the CSM was in a flight mode (spinning normal to the
>ecliptic) for a large part of translunar coast. Surely these
>guys were looking out the windows (there was not all that much
>to do at that time)and should have seen a blinking panel prior
>to the incident. All they had to do was just keep looking out
>the window and the flashing panels would have come into view. If
>the CSM was pointing toward the Moon most of the trip, then I
>could argue the panel would have been out of the field of view,
>but the spinning flight mode rules this out and implies they
>should have seen it earlier.

I agree that the panels would have been visible 577 miles away
from the spacecraft, but they would have appeared as pinpoints
of light to the naked eye. Depending on the lighting, they might
not have stood out well enough from the backround stars to have
been noticed; I assume the stars would abe far more numerous
viewed from space than from within the Earth's atmosphere, at
least in light-polluted urban environments. Perhaps they didn't
see the panels after docking with the LEM because the spacecraft
was traveling nose-first, or some other orientation in which the
view of the sky was more restricted before it was put into the
passive thermal mode where its rotation gave the crew a 360
degree view of a large swath of the sky.

>>"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."

>Yeah, they forgot about the midcourse firing.

>>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.

>The "dot" aspect I do not know for sure, I have not tried to
>simulate the telescopic situation. It does seem unlikely. But
>I do not know the characteristics of the telescope. When STS
>camera do extreme zooms (but are not focused) on Soyuz and other
>distant orbiting objects, some pretty odd shapes occur.

At a distance of 577 miles, a 21-foot long panel would subtend
0.024 minutes of arc. The sextant telescope had a 28X
magnification, so the angular size would be 28 times greater
through the telsecope: 0.7 arcminutes. The resolution limit of
the human eye for distinguishing an object that is more than a
pinpoint of light is about 1 arcminute, although I've seen
numbers as low as 0.7 arcminutes. So as far as I can see, one of
these SLA panels would appear to be little more than a dot. I'm
no expert in optics, but I don't see how they could have seen
any shape at all, weird or otherwise. (If David Rudiak is
reading this thread, he should feel free to jump in here if I'm
wrong about the optics).

>>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.

>I have not tried to simulate the illumination conditions,
>reflectivity/paint of the panel surfaces, panel orientation to
>see if it can appear to be a "open suitcase".

>>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.

>Okay, it seems wrong, and all these guys have for whatever
>reason decided its a SLA panel. I still am not clear what one
>can infer from this. We already know that the
>government/authorities will always choose a prosaic explanation
>first. If you rub their noses into how wrong they are, they will
>simply come up with another one which you can't refute
>adequately (e.g. debris from the CSM/LM).

I still think it's important that the credibility of people in
positions of authority needs to be called into question when
their stories change with time, whether the authority is the
U.S. Attorney General, who's had some problems with that
recently, or a famous astronaut. I'd like to hear Buzz Aldrin
explain why his story changed in the years since the Apollo 11
mission debriefing when he essentially rejected the panels as a
likely explanation.

By the way, it occurred to me that the midcourse correction you
found out about could make some other source of debris from the
CSM/LM less likely. Assuming that the object was something more
than an ice particle, the only events that I can think of that
would have generated any major debris would have been the
separation of the spacecraft from the booster and docking with
the LEM. The 485-mile downtrack distance between the panels and
the spacecraft that you computed for the midcourse correction
would also be the distance to any big chunks of debris left
floating around near the booster after the transposition and
docking, barring the off chance that the debris got a good kick
in the downtrack direction from a thruster or explosive bolt.
And whatever debris there was would have been a lot smaller than
the SLA panels and even harder to see at that distance.

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