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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa

Rolling Stones get name on little Martian rock that rolled

There is now a “Rolling Stones Rock” on Mars, and it’s giving Mick, Keith and the boys some serious satisfaction.

NASA named a little stone for the legendary rockers after its InSight robotic lander captured it rolling across the surface of Mars last year, and the new moniker was made public at Thursday night’s Rolling Stones’ concert at the Rose Bowl.

“NASA has given us something we have always dreamed of, our very own rock on Mars. I can’t believe it,” Mick Jagger told the crowd after grooving through a rendition of “Tumbling Dice.” ”I want to bring it back and put it on our mantelpiece.”

Robert Downey Jr. announced the name, taking the stage just before the band’s set at the Southern California stadium that is just a stone’s throw from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages InSight.

MICK JAGGER LIVELY AS EVER AT FIRST ROLLING STONES SHOW FOLLOWING HEART SURGERY

“Cross-pollinating science and a legendary rock band is always a good thing,” the “Iron Man” actor said backstage.

He told the crowd that JPL scientists had come up with the name “in a fit of fandom and clever association.”

“Charlie, Ronnie, Keith and Mick — they were in no way opposed to the notion,” Downey said, “but in typical egalitarian fashion, they suggested I assist in procuring 60,000 votes to make it official, so that’s my mission.”

He led the audience in a shout of “aye” before declaring the deed done.

Jagger later said, “I want to say a special thanks to our favorite action man Robert Downey Jr. That was a very nice intro he gave.”

The rock, just a little bigger than a golf ball, was moved by InSight’s own thrusters as the robotic lander touched down on Mars on Nov. 26.

It only moved about 3 feet (0.9 meters), but that’s the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a craft on another planet.

“I’ve seen a lot of Mars rocks over my career,” Matt Golombek, a JPL geologist who has helped NASA land all its Mars missions since 1997, said in a statement. “This one probably won’t be in a lot of scientific papers, but it’s definitely one of the coolest.”

The Rolling Stones and NASA logos were shown side by side in the run-up to the show as the sun set over the Rose Bowl, leaving many fans perplexed as to what the connection was before it was announced.

The concert had originally been scheduled for spring, before the Stones postponed their No Filter North American tour because Jagger had heart surgery.

The 76-year-old showed no signs of poor health or even his age as he danced, pranced and boogied up and down a long catwalk that extended to the middle of the stadium’s field.

He did poke fun at his advanced years.

“It’s great to be back at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena,” Jagger said. “At least I think we’ve been here before.” (They have, in 1994.)

He also said, “We walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard looking for the Rolling Stones star but couldn’t find it.” (The band doesn’t have one.)

And he took a dig at President Donald Trump’s recent talk of acquiring Greenland when introducing his bandmates.

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“On the drums,” Jagger shouted, “Greenland’s new economic adviser, Charlie Watts!”

Westlake Legal Group AP19235201536083 Rolling Stones get name on little Martian rock that rolled fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/entertainment/music fnc/entertainment fnc Associated Press article Andrew Dalton 4c9a938c-f499-5274-a6c3-70c009ece341   Westlake Legal Group AP19235201536083 Rolling Stones get name on little Martian rock that rolled fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/entertainment/music fnc/entertainment fnc Associated Press article Andrew Dalton 4c9a938c-f499-5274-a6c3-70c009ece341

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Rocky ‘Star Wars’ exoplanet with three suns discovered

A distant rocky exoplanet has gone one better than Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet on “Star Wars,” which is famously depicted as having two suns in its sky.

Scientists from the Harvard Center for Astrophysics used NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey (TESS) telescope to spot planet LTT 1445 A b and its three stars.

“While the planet itself remains in what is probably a stable orbit around its star, that star also orbits, at greater distance, two sibling stars that are locked in close orbit around each other,” explained NASA, in a statement.

SCIENTISTS FIND RARE ‘TATOOINE’ DOUBLE-STAR PLANET

LTT 1445 A b is about 22 light-years from Earth. A light-year measures distance in space and equals 6 trillion miles.

Westlake Legal Group ProximaBrendering Rocky 'Star Wars' exoplanet with three suns discovered James Rogers fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc ee9e0799-3613-5880-8165-d1ac4582190b article

Artist’s impression of Proxima b, which, like newly discovered exoplanet LTT 1445 A b, also has three stars in its sky. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

The planet is described as “overheated” by NASA, which notes that LTT 1445 A b is about 1.4 times the size of Earth. LTT 1445 A b’s parent star is LTT 1445 A.

“LTT 1445 A b takes only five days to go once around its star – a ‘year’ on this world,” said NASA. “Its scorchingly close orbit helps explain why its surface basks in temperatures on the order of 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 Celsius) – comparable to a preheated oven.”

NASA GLIMPSES SURFACE OF DISTANT ROCKY EXOPLANET

This is not the first time that a planet with more than one star has been discovered. NASA notes that our nearest exoplanet neighbor, Proxima b, also has three stars in its sky. Proxima b orbits Proxima Centauri located 4.25 light-years from Earth, which in turn orbits Alpha Centauri A and B.

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In 2016, experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego University used the Kepler Space Telescope to spot Kepler-1647 b, a planet with two suns in the Cygnus Constellation.

Fox News’ Grace Williams contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Westlake Legal Group ProximaBrendering Rocky 'Star Wars' exoplanet with three suns discovered James Rogers fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc ee9e0799-3613-5880-8165-d1ac4582190b article   Westlake Legal Group ProximaBrendering Rocky 'Star Wars' exoplanet with three suns discovered James Rogers fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc ee9e0799-3613-5880-8165-d1ac4582190b article

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NASA to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, which may hold life

NASA has officially confirmed a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, a trek that could answer whether the icy celestial body could be habitable for humans and support life.

Known as the Europa Clipper mission, which was originally explored in 2017, the government space agency is now in the phase of completing the final design of the spacecraft that will visit the moon. From there, it will move on to construction and, ultimately, test the spacecraft and science payload.

“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”

Westlake Legal Group europa_full-nasa NASA to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, which may hold life fox-news/science/jupiter fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/planets fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia b34ac606-f10c-5a65-981f-5add0b4f01e0 article

(Credit: NASA)

MYSTERIOUS ALTERNATING CURRENTS FOUND ON JUPITER

A 2018 study expressed concerns that Europa’s surface may be extremely porous, which could harm any probe that touches down on its surface.

The space agency said the purpose of the mission will be to investigate whether Europa, the sixth-largest of Jupiter’s 79 known moons, “could harbor conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology.”

The conditions on Europa have been previously likened to exoplanet Barnard B, a “super-Earth” 30 trillion miles from Earth. It likely has a surface temperature of roughly 238 degrees below zero and may have oceans underneath its icy surface, according to a July 2018 statement from NASA.

It’s unclear what the oceans on Europa are made up of, but the Hubble Space Telescope detected the presence of sodium chloride (NaCl) on its surface, according to a study published in June.

“If this sodium chloride is really reflective of the internal composition, then [Europa’s ocean] might be more Earth-like than we used to think,” the study’s lead author, Samantha Trumbo, told Space.com.

NASA said its goal for the Europa Clipper mission is to launch as soon as 2023, but it added that its baseline commitment “supports a launch readiness date by 2025.”

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Elon Musk lauds Newt Gingrich’s $2B moon competition prize

Westlake Legal Group elon-musk-Reuters Elon Musk lauds Newt Gingrich's $2B moon competition prize fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/elon-musk fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 2b13f70f-c0b9-5c3b-846a-4e1024004c05

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave his approval for a plan put forth by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to give a $2 billion prize to the first private company to establish and run the first base on the moon.

“This is a great idea,” Musk tweeted in response to a story written up about the plan, which was first reported by Politico.

The plan, which was hatched by Gingrich, Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, Howard Bloom (the former music publicist to icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince and Billy Joel) and others, would be awarded in an effort to help cut down public spending on space exploration, primarily the domain of NASA.

ELON MUSK STILL WANTS TO ‘NUKE MARS’

“In the past, putting permanent housing on the moon has been estimated to cost between $50 billion and $500 billion,” the proposal reads, according to Politico. “But several private companies have developed moon programs on their own dime. So we are now in a position to buy transportation and housing from private American companies. At an unbelievable drop in cost.”

Gingrich, who is a Fox News contributor, told Politico that people would be “shocked” at how fast private space companies such as SpaceX and the Jeff Bezos-led Blue Origin can move.

According to the plan’s summary, the plan would split the $2 billion into two installments. The first tranche would go to the “first company or organization that can land a roomy, comfortable human base on the moon” and the second installment would go to the company “that can set up and run that base.”

Fox News has reached out to NASA and Gingrich for additional comment for this story.

In May, Bezos unveiled an ambitious plan to send a spaceship to the moon, the Blue Moon lunar lander. The robotic ship is the size of a small house and is capable of carrying four rovers, using a newly designed rocket engine and souped-up rockets. It would be followed by a version that could bring people to the moon along the same timeframe as NASA’s proposed 2024 return.

The Amazon chief, who was dwarfed by his mock-up of the Blue Moon vehicle at his presentation in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, said, “It’s time to go back to the moon. This time to stay.”

It’s unclear whether President Trump has been made aware of the plan. However, the Trump administration and the president himself have expressed some dissatisfaction with the pace NASA is on to return astronauts to the moon and ultimately, to Mars.

In March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to step up the pace and land astronauts on the moon within five years, “by any means necessary.”

Pence warned that if NASA can’t put astronauts on the moon by 2024, “we need to change the organization, not the mission.”

“It’s time to redouble our effort,” Pence said during a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Ala. “It can happen, but it will not happen unless we increase the pace.”

“We’re not committed to one contractor. If our current contractors can’t meet this objective, then we’ll find ones that will,” Pence added. “If American industry can provide critical commercial services without government development, then we’ll buy them. And if commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be.”

ELON MUSK CONCERNED WE HAVE ‘NO DEFENSE’ AGAINST POTENTIAL KILLER ASTEROID

In June, Trump sent a surprising tweet that caught many in the space community off-guard, lambasting NASA for talking about going to the moon.

“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon — We did that 50 years ago,” Trump wrote in a tweet aboard Air Force One. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”

It’s not known what prompted Trump’s tweet and exactly what he meant when he said the moon is a part of Mars. In May, Trump tweeted that under his administration, NASA would return to the moon and ultimately, Mars, in an effort to “return to space in a big way!”

Others in the space community, including Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, have also expressed dissatisfaction with NASA’s pace.

Speaking at a White House event honoring the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, said he was “disappointed” with the progress America’s space program has made since he and Neil Armstrong became the first men to walk on another celestial body.

“[I’m] disappointed in the progress in the past 50 years,” Aldrin said at the event held in the Oval Office. “We had a rocket, the Saturn 5. We have the [No. 1] rocket and spacecraft and they can’t get into lunar orbit. That’s a great disappointment to me.”

Collins, who recently recounted what the Apollo 11 mission was like, believes NASA should skip a return trip to the moon and head straight for Mars.

NASA’s Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who also attended the event, said the space agency is “working on it.”

In June, Bridenstine said Project Artemis, the successor to the Apollo program, would cost between $20 billion and $30 billion.

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Fox News’ James Rogers and Bradford Betz contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group elon-musk-Reuters Elon Musk lauds Newt Gingrich's $2B moon competition prize fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/elon-musk fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 2b13f70f-c0b9-5c3b-846a-4e1024004c05   Westlake Legal Group elon-musk-Reuters Elon Musk lauds Newt Gingrich's $2B moon competition prize fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/elon-musk fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 2b13f70f-c0b9-5c3b-846a-4e1024004c05

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NASA finds evidence of ‘interplanetary shock’ for first time

NASA has captured a phenomenon in space that has eluded humanity for centuries — an “interplanetary shock.”

Four spacecraft from the space agency, which are part of the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) that launched in 2015, managed to get a view of the event in January 2018. The craft were just 12 miles away from one another, which made seeing the spectacle possible.

“MMS was able to measure the shock thanks to its unprecedentedly fast and high-resolution instruments. One of the instruments aboard MMS is the Fast Plasma Investigation,” the space agency said in a statement on its website. “This suite of instruments can measure ions and electrons around the spacecraft at up to 6 times per second. Since the speeding shock waves can pass the spacecraft in just half a second, this high-speed sampling is essential to catching the shock.”

Westlake Legal Group interplanetary-shock NASA finds evidence of 'interplanetary shock' for first time fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 8fbcf894-b20a-5283-894b-d73e5b9cc4fa

Data from the Fast Plasma Investigation aboard MMS shows the shock and reflected ions as they washed over MMS. The colors represent the amount of ions seen with warmer colors indicating higher numbers of ions. The reflected ions (yellow band that appears just above the middle of the figure) show up midway through the animation, and can be seen increasing in intensity (warmer colors) as they pass MMS, shown as a white dot. (Credit: Ian Cohen)

CAUSE OF MYSTERIOUS METHANE SPIKES ON MARS STILL UNKNOWN

NASA continued: “Looking at the data from Jan. 8, the scientists noticed a clump of ions from the solar wind. Shortly after, they saw a second clump of ions, created by ions already in the area that had bounced off the shock as it passed by. Analyzing this second population, the scientists found evidence to support a theory of energy transfer first posed in the 1980s.”

An interplanetary shock, which emanates from the Sun, is a type of “collisionless shock,” where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields as opposed to bouncing into one another, NASA added.

“These collisionless shocks are a phenomenon found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars. MMS studies collisionless shocks around Earth to gain a greater understanding of shocks across the universe,” the space agency continued.

The researchers behind the observation hope that additional instances are spotted by the MMS that will give them more detailed looks at these interplanetary shocks.

NASA has released a video describing the charged particles, also known as the solar wind, in greater detail.

The research describing the find was published in the journal JGR Space Physics.

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Westlake Legal Group 12_AP19220711315345 NASA finds evidence of 'interplanetary shock' for first time fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 8fbcf894-b20a-5283-894b-d73e5b9cc4fa   Westlake Legal Group 12_AP19220711315345 NASA finds evidence of 'interplanetary shock' for first time fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 8fbcf894-b20a-5283-894b-d73e5b9cc4fa

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7 years on Mars, NASA Curiosity rover celebrates anniversary with new finds

NASA’s eventual goal is to put astronauts on Mars, but the space agency’s Curiosity rover is keeping it busy in the meantime.

The Curiosity rover, which celebrated its seventh anniversary on the Red Planet earlier this week, has made several remarkable discoveries, including finding “unusually high” levels of methane and a “shiny” object believed to be a meteorite. In a new blog post, NASA said that Curiosity is still exploring the Gale Crater and uncovering the mysteries of the “clay-bearing unit,” where it’s using its tools to drill into the Martian soil.

“This area is one of the reasons we came to Gale Crater,” said Kristen Bennett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the co-leads for Curiosity’s clay-unit campaign, in the post. “We’ve been studying orbiter images of this area for 10 years, and we’re finally able to take a look up close.”

Westlake Legal Group NASA-CURIOSITY-MARS-seven-years 7 years on Mars, NASA Curiosity rover celebrates anniversary with new finds fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/mars fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 69a11673-f096-5d52-aac9-916c951e893c

This panorama of a location called “Teal Ridge” was captured on Mars by the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA’s Curiosity rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

MARTIAN METEOR COLLISION MAY HAVE TRIGGERED A 1,000 FOOT TSUNAMI

The clay was first spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), prior to the launch of Curiosity. Clay is partially made with water, which is the basis for supporting life as know it.

Curiosity has found “the highest amounts of clay minerals” in some recent rock samples it’s looked at. The rover also found high amounts of clay on other parts of Mount Sharp, a mountain on Mars, which the MRO did not detect.

NASA added that scientists are wondering what caused the discrepancy between the MRO and Curiosity’s findings. One possible reason is that pebbles and gravels that were encountered by Curiosity were too small for the MRO to see, according to the campaign’s co-lead, Valerie Fox of Caltech.

The space agency has also posted a video to YouTube detailing Curiosity’s achievements.

The Red Planet once had a very wet surface, covered in wide, ranging rivers. Water may be the lifeblood of our planet, but it’s unclear whether Mars ever supported (or still supports) life.

NASA hopes the Curiosity rover, which “has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations,” can provide additional clues about the planet prior to the launch of the Mars 2020 rover mission.

Mars looms ever larger in America’s space future.

In November, NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

However, former astronauts, including Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, think we should skip a return mission to the Moon, slated for 2024, and “shoot directly for Mars.”

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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this story.

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Apollo 11: How ‘dumb luck’ saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed

The Apollo 11 Moon landing produced some of the most iconic photographs ever taken. However, a processing glitch in Houston when the films were returned to Earth nearly caused a “photographic catastrophe” of truly epic proportions.

“One of the 20th century’s defining moments was almost lost to posterity,” explains Zeiss, the company that provided camera lenses for Apollo 11, on its website. The Apollo 11 images, it adds, arrived in Houston shortly after the crew’s return from the Moon.

“However, before the moon photos were developed, the processing equipment was checked one more time with a test film,” Zeiss said. During this inspection the film processor suddenly started leaking ethylene oxide, destroying the test film.

APOLLO 11’S MICHAEL COLLINS RECOUNTS THE CREW’S THREE-WEEK QUARANTINE ON THEIR RETURN FROM THE MOON

“This turned out to be a blessing: thanks to this final test, the development team quickly fixed the defect and could successfully develop the images of the first Moon landing,” the lens maker explained. “The photographs taken during the moon missions were published around the world and made history.”

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: How 'dumb luck' saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed James Rogers fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc b4bc9afd-58cd-5842-88cf-31fbc9c1069a article

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

It is not clear how many Apollo 11 photos would have been impacted if the ethylene oxide had leaked onto actual film from the mission. A vast array of photographs was captured during the historic mission. These include Neil Armstrong’s iconic shot of Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, with the Apollo 11 mission commander reflected in Aldrin’s visor, and also the famous image of Aldrin’s boot print.

“The orbital and surface lunar photographs obtained during Apollo 11 the Apollo 11 mission were of good quality, resolution, and contrast,” explained NASA, in a report released in 1970. This included 1,359 frames of 70-mm photography and 17 pairs of lunar surface stereoscopic photographs.

APOLLO ASTRONAUT RECOUNTS MISSION CONTROL DURING MOON LANDING: ‘IT WAS TENSE, BECAUSE THIS WAS THE REAL THING NOW’

Neither NASA nor Kodak, which provided film for Apollo 11, was able to shed any light on the incident when contacted by Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group NASAAldrinFootprint Apollo 11: How 'dumb luck' saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed James Rogers fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc b4bc9afd-58cd-5842-88cf-31fbc9c1069a article

Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the lunar surface. (NASA)

However, in Billy Watkins’ book “Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes,” Richard Underwood, NASA’s chief of photography during the Apollo 11 mission, described how the ethylene oxide had leaked onto the test film and melted it.

“The spacecraft was about to splashdown, and we were running through one final test on the film processor, which had been checked hundreds of times before,” he said.

50 YEARS AFTER APOLLO 11, NEIL ARMSTRONG’S SONS DESCRIBE THE DAY THEIR DAD WALKED ON THE MOON

“It was just pure dumb luck that we decided to do one more test on that processor. Had Armstrong’s film been put in there without that last test, it would’ve eaten it up,” Underwood added. “It would’ve been the greatest photographic catastrophe in the history of the planet.”

A stainless steel cover, he explained, was built to prevent any future leaks on the precious film.

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July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: How 'dumb luck' saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed James Rogers fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc b4bc9afd-58cd-5842-88cf-31fbc9c1069a article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: How 'dumb luck' saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed James Rogers fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc b4bc9afd-58cd-5842-88cf-31fbc9c1069a article

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Apollo 11 splashdown heroes remember recovery efforts: ‘Proud to have been part of it’

Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, descending from the sky, were three orange parachutes carrying a burned-up space capsule, three Americans and the bookend to the most momentous event in human history.

Minutes later, Apollo 11 splashed down in the water, fulfilling the goal of a nation: perform a manned lunar landing and return.

The day was July 24, 1969, 50 years ago today. Inside the Apollo 11 capsule were the first two men to ever set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Also with them was Michael Collins, the astronaut who piloted the command module and orbited the moon for two hours and 36 minutes while Armstrong and Aldrin were leaving lunar footprints. All three were alive and healthy, returning to Earth after being off in space for nine days.

But the story wasn’t over yet. The astronauts had to be rescued from the ocean.

That’s where the USS Hornet comes in.  The aircraft carrier had left California on a mission they just learned about: recover Apollo 11.

REMEMBERING AMERICA’S HISTORIC MISSION TO THE MOON

That meant removing the men from the capsule, getting them in a small boat, hoisting them up to a helicopter and bringing them aboard the Hornet, where President Nixon and numerous other dignitaries were proudly waiting.

“We were just very, very focused,” said Rolf Sabye, who served on the Hornet in the navigation department as a quartermaster second class petty officer.

Westlake Legal Group rolf-2 Apollo 11 splashdown heroes remember recovery efforts: ‘Proud to have been part of it’ Phil Keating fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/science/air-and-space fox news fnc/science fnc c937bbad-c0d7-52f4-bae1-b95f27dbc870 article

Rolf Sabye served on the Hornet in the navigation department as a quartermaster second class petty officer. (Courtesy of Rolf Sabye)

“Well, we had worked hard for several weeks after leaving Hawaii. We had 16 training exercises where our main job on the ship was to pull up next to the capsule and recover the capsule after the astronauts had been recovered by the helicopter,” he recalled.

“It was a pretty important event. But then, we realized that people around the world were watching it,” Saybe said. “I always felt being on the bridge was really close to the heartbeat of the ship. It was pretty special. I’m pretty proud of having been part of it.”

Tim Wilson said he felt the same.

APOLLO 11: FORMER OFFICER ON RECOVERY SHIP USS HORNET RECALLS WATCHING ASTRONAUTS’ ‘AMAZING’ RETURN WITH PRESIDENT NIXON

He, too, was on board the USS Hornet as a lieutenant and public affairs officer.

“This was a really big deal and, after coming back from Vietnam, it was almost like getting an extra-rich dessert or something like that,” Wilson remembered. “We were getting to do something really, really neat.”

Being that it was 1969 and the sailors had been living on their ship, in the middle of a war, Wilson recalled the ship’s crew kind of being in the dark about the whole thing.

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Tim Wilson was on board the USS Hornet as a lieutenant and public affairs officer. “This was a really big deal and, after coming back from Vietnam, it was almost like getting an extra-rich dessert or something like that,” Wilson said. (Courtesy of Tim Wilson )

“We didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. “We didn’t have a sense of what sort of emotions were going on at the mainland or with our families or things like that because we did not have access to any television feeds or anything in terms of the launch of Apollo 11 or the trip to the moon or the walking on the moon.”

And 50 years later, Wilson still feels just as proud as he did back then.

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“I think everybody just feels very, very attached to what we did here and our place in history,” he said. “[We’re] very lucky to have been a part of it.”

Saybe said the Hornet’s crew all performed professionally and patriotically.

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Flight controllers at Mission Control applaud the splashdown and success of the Apollo 11 lunar mission on July 24, 1969. (NASA)

“It was only on the day of splashdown, really, when all these dignitaries appeared on board, President Nixon, and everybody else that we knew,” he said, remembering feeling a little awestruck.

“Wow. This is the real thing here, today’s the day and this is really cool. I did not sense any anxiety whatsoever from the people that I was involved in here.  I’d say (there is) a tremendous amount of pride in that. In terms of the United States and in terms of our role in this thing.”

The three astronauts they rescued from the Pacific went on to become world famous and instant national heroes – all with a little help from the crew of the USS Hornet.

Westlake Legal Group Apollo11RecoveryGetty1969 Apollo 11 splashdown heroes remember recovery efforts: ‘Proud to have been part of it’ Phil Keating fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/science/air-and-space fox news fnc/science fnc c937bbad-c0d7-52f4-bae1-b95f27dbc870 article   Westlake Legal Group Apollo11RecoveryGetty1969 Apollo 11 splashdown heroes remember recovery efforts: ‘Proud to have been part of it’ Phil Keating fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox-news/science/air-and-space fox news fnc/science fnc c937bbad-c0d7-52f4-bae1-b95f27dbc870 article

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Chris Kraft, 1st flight director for NASA, dead at 95

Behind America’s late leap into orbit and triumphant small step on the moon was the agile mind and guts-of-steel of Chris Kraft, making split-second decisions that propelled the nation to once unimaginable heights.

Kraft, the creator and longtime leader of NASA’s Mission Control, died Monday in Houston, just two days after the 50th anniversary of what was his and NASA’s crowning achievement: Apollo 11’s moon landing. He was 95.

Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. never flew in space, but “held the success or failure of American human spaceflight in his hands,” Neil Armstrong, the first man-on-the-moon, told The Associated Press in 2011.

Westlake Legal Group AP19203853451735-e1563847709902 Chris Kraft, 1st flight director for NASA, dead at 95 fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fnc/science fnc Associated Press article 57174f44-277a-5e49-baae-e9b08c902c48

Christopher Kraft, flight director during Project Mercury, working at his console inside the Flight Control area at Mercury Mission Control in Houston, in an undated photo. (NASA via AP, File)

Kraft founded Mission Control and created the job of flight director — later comparing it to an orchestra conductor — and established how flights would be run as the space race between the U.S. and Soviets heated up. The legendary engineer served as flight director for all of the one-man Mercury flights and seven of the two-man Gemini flights, helped design the Apollo missions that took 12 Americans to the moon from 1969 to 1972 and later served as director of the Johnson Space Center until 1982, overseeing the beginning of the era of the space shuttle.

Armstrong once called him “the man who was the `Control’ in Mission Control.”

“From the moment the mission starts until the moment the crew is safe on board a recovery ship, I’m in charge,” Kraft wrote in his 2002 book “Flight: My Life in Mission Control.”

“No one can overrule me. … They can fire me after it’s over. But while the mission is under way, I’m Flight. And Flight is God.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19203856337631 Chris Kraft, 1st flight director for NASA, dead at 95 fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fnc/science fnc Associated Press article 57174f44-277a-5e49-baae-e9b08c902c48

Then-President Ronald Reagan being briefed by Kraft in Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center in Houston, in November 1981. (NASA via AP, File)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Monday called Kraft “a national treasure,” saying “We stand on his shoulders as we reach deeper into the solar system, and he will always be with us on those journeys.”

Kraft became known as “the father of Mission Control” and in 2011 NASA returned the favor by naming the Houston building that houses the nerve center after Kraft.

“It’s where the heart of the mission is,” Kraft said in an April 2010 AP interview. “It’s where decisions are made every day, small and large … We realized that the people that had the moxie, that had the knowledge, were there and could make the decisions.”

That’s what Chris Kraft’s Mission Control was about: smart people with knowledge discussing options quickly and the flight director making a quick, informed decision, said former Smithsonian Institution space historian Roger Launius. It’s the place that held its collective breath as Neil Armstrong was guiding the Eagle lunar lander on the moon while fuel was running out. And it’s the place that improvised a last-minute rescue of Apollo 13 — a dramatic scenario that later made the unsung engineers heroes in a popular movie.

Soon it became more than NASA’s Mission Control. Hurricane forecasting centers, city crisis centers, even the Russian space center are all modeled after the Mission Control that Kraft created, Launius said.

Westlake Legal Group AP19203833876667 Chris Kraft, 1st flight director for NASA, dead at 95 fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fnc/science fnc Associated Press article 57174f44-277a-5e49-baae-e9b08c902c48

Chris Kraft at the old Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, in July 2011. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Leading up to the first launch to put an American, John Glenn, in orbit, a reporter asked Kraft about the odds of success and he replied: “If I thought about the odds at all, we’d never go to the pad.”

“It was a wonderful life. I can’t think of anything that an aeronautical engineer would get more out of, than what we were asked to do in the space program, in the `60s,” Kraft said on NASA’s website marking the 50th anniversary of the agency in 2008.

In the early days of Mercury at Florida’s Cape Canaveral, before Mission Control moved to Houston in 1965, there were no computer displays, “all you had was grease pencils,” Kraft recalled. The average age of the flight control team was 26; Kraft was 38.

“We didn’t know a damn thing about putting a man into space,” Kraft wrote in his autobiography. “We had no idea how much it should or would cost. And at best, we were engineers trained to do, not business experts trained to manage.”

NASA trailed the Soviet space program and suffered through many failed launches in the early days, before the manned flights began in 1961. Kraft later recalled thinking President John F. Kennedy “had lost his mind” when in May 1961 he set as a goal a manned trip to the moon “before this decade is out.”

“We had a total of 15 minutes of manned spaceflight experience, we hadn’t flown Mercury in orbit yet, and here’s a guy telling me we’re going to fly to the moon. … Doing it was one thing, but doing it in this decade was to me too risky,” Kraft told AP in 1989.

“Frankly it scared the hell out of me,” he said at a 2009 lecture at the Smithsonian.

APOLLO 11 HERO MICHAEL COLLINS RECALLS CREW’S RETURN FROM MOON

One of the most dramatic moments came during Scott Carpenter’s May 1962 mission as the second American to orbit the earth. Carpenter landed 288 miles off target because of low fuel and other problems. He was eventually found safely floating in his life raft.  Kraft blamed Carpenter for making poor decisions. Tom Wolfe’s book “The Right Stuff” said Kraft angrily vowed that Carpenter “will never fly for me again!” But Carpenter said he did the best he could when the machinery malfunctioned.

After the two-man Gemini flights, Kraft moved up NASA management to be in charge of manned spaceflight and was stunned by the Apollo 1 training fire that killed three astronauts.

Gene Kranz, who later would become NASA’s flight director for the Apollo mission that took man to the moon, said Kraft did not at first impress him as a leader. But Kranz eventually saw Kraft as similar to a judo instructor, allowing his student to grow in skills, then stepping aside.

“Chris Kraft had pioneered Mission Control and fought the battles in Mercury and Gemini, serving as the role model of the flight director. He proved the need for real-time leadership,” Kranz wrote in his book, “Failure Is Not An Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond.”

Born in 1924, Kraft grew up in Phoebus, Virginia, now part of Hampton, about 75 miles southeast of Richmond. In his autobiography, Kraft said with the name Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr., “some of my life’s direction was settled from the start.”

After graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1944, Kraft took a job with aircraft manufacturer Chance Vought to build warplanes, but he quickly realized it wasn’t for him. He returned to Virginia where he accepted a job with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, not far from Phoebus.

Kraft’s first job was to figure out what happens to airplanes as they approach the speed of sound.

After his retirement, Kraft served as an aerospace consultant and was chairman of a panel in the mid-1990s looking for a cheaper way to manage the shuttle program.

Later, as the space shuttle program was being phased out after 30 years, Kraft blasted as foolish the decision to retire the shuttles, which he called “the safest machines ever built.”

Kraft said he considered himself fortunate to be part of the team that sent Americans to space and called it a sad day when the shuttles stopped flying.

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“The people of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo are blossoms on the moon. Their spirits will live there forever,” he wrote. “I was part of that crowd, then part of the leadership that opened space travel to human beings. We threw a narrow flash of light across our nation’s history. I was there at the best of times.”

Kraft and his wife, Betty Anne, were married in 1950. They had a son, Gordon, and a daughter, Kristi-Anne.

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On Apollo 11 anniversary, Pence announces that Orion capsule for manned Moon missions is ready for debut flight

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Speaking at Kennedy Space Center on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Orion capsule that will take American astronauts back to the Moon is ready.

“The Orion crew capsule for the Artemis mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first mission,” he said.

The Artemis program will land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on Earth’s natural satellite. Artemis will also make history by landing the first woman on the Moon.

FOR MORE APOLLO 11 5OTH ANNIVERSARY COVERAGE CLICK HERE

“America will return to the Moon within the next five years and the next man and the first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts,” he said: “We’re going back.”

“We’re investing in new rockets, new spaceships,” Pence added. “We’re unleashing the burgeoning private space industry.”

Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the U.S. has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, to get astronauts to the Space Station.

APOLLO 11: 50 YEARS ON, THE WORLD CELEBRATES THE MOON LANDING

“Within the next year we will send American astronauts into space on American rockets from American soil,” said Pence, who was flanked by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin during his speech.

Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, cited President Kennedy’s famous vow in 1961 to land an American on the Moon by the end of that decade. “Make no mistake, the Moon was a choice, an American choice,” he said. “The achievement was inevitable.”

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“They brought together our nation,” Pence said, adding that, for a brief moment, Apollo 11 also united all the people of the world.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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