The Greatest Leap, part 5: Saving the crew of Apollo 13

The Greatest Leap, part 5: Saving the crew of Apollo 13

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

As Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise floated in the tunnel snaking between the Lunar Module and Command Module, he heard—and felt—a loud bang. Around him, the two vehicles began to contort. Then, the metal walls of the tunnel crinkled as the spacecraft shuddered.

Wide-eyed, Haise scrambled from the tunnel into the Command Module alongside Jack Swigert and

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Operation Avalanche, the only good conspiracy—fake the Moon landing, get promoted

Operation Avalanche, the only good conspiracy—fake the Moon landing, get promoted

With this weekend’s 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, it’s worth remembering most conspiracy theories are more-or-less the same: a shadowy cabal of all-powerful, all-knowing elites comes together to manipulate us commoners, for whom they have nothing but contempt. The cabal changes—globalists, Lizard People, the media, the Vatican, whatevs—but the song remains the same.

So a few years back when I heard someone had made yet another a low-budget mockumentary about faking the Apollo 11 Moon landing, that’s what I was expecting. Maybe even Kubrick would be evoked again. Instead, imagine my surprise when 2016’s Operation Avalanche turned out to be light on conspiracy against the sheeple and heavy on a bumbling, baby-faced doofus who comes up with a plan to fake the Moon landing as basically a way to impress his boss.

Psychologists speculate that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because a world

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American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts

American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts

Enlarge / A team of 10 designers and LEGO “Master Builders” spent nearly 300 hours designing and building a life-size LEGO model of Aldrin in his iconic pose on the lunar surface. (credit: LEGO)

Exactly 50 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would land on the Moon and inspire a generation of young people to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

The Apollo program’s effect of inspiring America’s children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most powerful lasting legacies of the Moon race. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be coming to an end.

On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, LEGO asked The Harris Poll to survey a total of 3,000 children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their

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No, a “checklist error” did not almost derail the first moon landing

No, a “checklist error” did not almost derail the first moon landing

Enlarge / Apollo 11’s Eagle moves slowly away from Columbia and prepares for landing. (credit: NASA / Apollo Lunar Surface Journal)

Update: It’s Fourth of July weekend in the US, and Ars staff is off presumably safely operating fireworks and catching some R&R. With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing rapidly approaching, this felt like the perfect time to resurface a few favorite NASA stories from the archives. If our recent six-part documentary or report from a restored Mission Control haven’t quite satiated your moon landing needs, this piece on the infamous Apollo 11 landing alarms might do the trick. It originally ran on July 28, 2015 and appears unchanged below.

Last week was the forty-sixth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing—the first of the six crewed landings on our nearest celestial neighbor. In the years between 1969 and 1972, 12 human beings walked

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NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of 60s life, frozen in amber

NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of 60s life, frozen in amber

HOUSTON—Following the completion of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar restoration, NASA’s historic Apollo Mission Operations Control Room 2 (“MOCR 2”) is set to reopen to the public next week. The $5 million in funding for the restoration was partially provided by NASA, but the majority of the money was donated by the city of Webster, the Houston suburb where the Johnson Space Center is located. Another half-million in funding came from the general public via a Kickstarter campaign (disclosure: your humble author was a backer).

For the past two years, historians and engineers from the Kansas Cosmosphere’s

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Via the BBC, find out how Apollo 11’s Eagle actually landed

Via the BBC, find out how Apollo 11’s Eagle actually landed

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

With the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing fast approaching, there’s a veritable deluge of programs, events, and media of various forms, all dedicated to recapturing an astonishing moment in humanity’s collective history. All of these things face a serious challenge: the Apollo missions have been revisited so many times and from so many angles, it’s difficult to say anything truly new.

Go for the obvious points, and you’ll face telling a big chunk of your audience things they already knew. Aim for something truly novel, and there’s the risk that you’ll end up focusing on an aspect that’s obscure simply because it’s not that interesting or important. These problems are compounded for an audience like Ars’, where most of us have spent a bit of time obsessed by the space program, and the hurdles to finding some novelty grow even higher.

The promise of

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