Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We came in peace for all Mankind

It was 47 years ago today, that Neil Armstrong read the writing on this plaque as he was preparing to ascend the Lunar Module (LM-5) ladder at the end of that famous "moon walk".

Plaque left on the Moon on the Sea of Tranquility

What a day that was!

I was 12 and I was glued to the TV set all day, along with the rest of my family. It was a heady time, watching something unfold that you knew would never happen again - the first time a human being would land and stand on a celestial body other than the Earth.

Today, in commemoration of that event, I was able to work Special Event Station K2CAM during lunch time at work, from the Jeep.

LM-13 on display

As I walked out to the parking lot, I turned on the smart phone (more about that in a bit) to see what NPOTA stations might be on.  I saw K2CAM spotted on 40 Meter SSB at 7.240 MHz.  Being a true child of the Space Age, I was not about to let this opportunity to go by!  How could I pass up anything Project Apollo related?

I held my breath, more than half expecting to be greeted by a massive pile up, wondering how my 5 Watts on phone would manage to break through. To my surprise and delight, the competition was not DXpedition or even NPOTA heavy.  I managed to make contact with K2CAM on my first call, and I even got a 59 report in the process. Yes, I know, 5 Watts from Central New Jersey to Long Island isn't a big deal - but this was a big deal to me.

K2CAM was being operated by members of LIMARC, the Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club from the "Cradle of Aviation Museum" in Uniondale, Long Island. The museum is a very short distance away from Bethpage, which is the home of Grumman Aircraft (now Northrop Grumman), the designers and builders of the Lunar Module.  There's lot of civil and space aviation history on Long Island, that's for sure!

LM-5 "Eagle" on the lunar surface - Buzz Aldrin with the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP).

The Lunar Module shown above, which is on display at the Museum is LM-13, which was originally intended to be the Lunar Module that would have landed on the Moon, had Apollo 18 not been scrubbed. LM-14, which was never 100% completed, and which was supposed to land on the Moon for Apollo 19, is now on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. LM-15 was scrapped and supposedly, parts of it were used to manufacture the Apollo Telescope Mount which was part of Sky Lab.

Getting back to my smart phone reference ..... the average smart phone, which we take so much for granted these days, is a computing behemoth compared to the Apollo Guidance Computer, which NASA relied upon to control both the Lunar Module and Command/Service Module vehicles of Project Apollo.

Apollo Guidance Computer interface - the DSKY

The entire Apollo Guidance Program was only about 36K in size. So even though the AGC is a dwarf compared to computers of today, it was more than capable of getting the job done.

Thank you, J.J and the other members of LIMARC who put K2CAM on the air today. That is one QSL card that will be a prized part of my QSL collection.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes, the AGC. Good old RTL. You don't see that any more. Indeed, it was so far ahead of its time that the industry went in another direction -- TTL.

    Indeed, the last operating example of RTL systems was likely the Voyager project, which was launched in the same era as Apollo.