Daily Archives: July 20, 2019

20 July 1969, 20:17:39 UTC, T + 102:45:39.9

Apollo 11 LM -5, Eagle, just after separation from the Command/Service Module in Lunar Orbit, 20 July 1969. (Michael Collins/NASA)

102:45:25 Aldrin: “Four forward. Four forward. Drifting to the right a little. Twenty feet, down a half.”

102:45:31 Duke: “Thirty seconds” (until the ‘Bingo’ call).

102:45:32 Aldrin: “Drifting forward just a little bit; that’s good.” (Pause)

102:45:40 Aldrin: “Contact Light.”

102:45:43 Armstrong: “Shutdown”.

102:45:44 Aldrin: “Okay. Engine Stop.”

102:45:45 Aldrin: “ACA out of Detent.”

102:45:46 Armstrong: “Out of Detent. Auto.”

102:45:47 Aldrin: “Mode Control, both Auto. Descent Engine Command Override, Off. Engine Arm, Off. Four-thirteen is in.”

102:45:57 Duke: “We copy you down, Eagle.”

102:45:58 Armstrong: “Engine arm is off. (Pause) Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

The shadow of the LM Eagle cast on the lunar surface at Mare Tranquillitatis, 20 July 1969. The hills are raised portions of the rim of a 200 meter crater and are about 200 meters from the LM. (Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr./NASA)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 July 1969, 18:12:01 UTC, T + 100:40:01.9

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle shortly after separation from teh Command and Service Module, in orbit around the Moon, 20 July 1969. (NASA)
The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard, shortly after separation from the Command and Service Module, in orbit around the Moon, 20 July 1969. (Michael Collins, NASA)

20 July 1969, 18:12:01 UTC, T + 100 hours, 40 minutes, 1.9 seconds: The Lunar Module Eagle completes the separation maneuver, moving away from the Apollo 11 Command and Service Module Columbia.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 July 1955

Convair NB-36 Nuclear Test Aircraft
Convair NB-36H Nuclear Test Aircraft. (U.S. Air Force)

20 July 1955: At Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth, Texas, the Convair NB-36H Nuclear Test Aircraft, serial number 51-5712, made its first flight.

In the late 1940s engineers began working on an aircraft that could be powered by a nuclear reactor. The reactor would heat air to provide jet thrust, rather than burning fuel and air to do so. A 60 megawatt reactor was envisioned.

The NB-36 was built to test the shielding requirements of an airborne nuclear reactor and to determine the effects of radiation on aircraft systems.

The Nuclear Test Aircraft was built from a Convair B-36H-20-CF Peacemaker strategic bomber, one of 61 that had been destroyed or damaged by a tornado that struck Carswell AFB in 1952. 51-5712 was so heavily damaged that the airframe was written off, but it was rebuilt with a completely new nose section with a shielded cockpit, and was otherwise  very heavily modified by Convair.

The shielded cockpit unit of the NB-36H (U.S. Air Force)
The shielded cockpit unit of the NB-36H. This assembly weighed 11 tons. (U.S. Air Force)

A one-megawatt Aircraft Shield Test Reactor developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, weighing approximately 35,000 pounds (15,875 kilograms), was installed in the bomber’s aft bomb bay. Though the reactor was fully operational, it did not power the airplane.

As with other B-36s, a combination of six Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R-4360-53 air-cooled, 28-cylinder radial engines, and four General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojet engines, powered the NB-36.

The modified bomber could reach a maximum speed of 420 miles per hours at 47,000 feet. It had a maximum gross weight of 357,500 pounds.

During the test program, the NB-36 made 47 flights with a total of 215 hours flight time.

Based on the test results, the entire project was cancelled, and 51-5712 was scrapped at Fort Worth in 1958.

Convair NB-36H Nuclear Test Aircraft 51-5712. (Convair)
Convair NB-36H Nuclear Test Aircraft 51-5712, 6 August 1956. (Convair)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 July 1933

Wiley Post's Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR105W, Winnie Mae, after a landing accident at Flat, Alaska. (Unattributed)
Wiley Post’s Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR105W, Winnie Mae, after a landing accident at Flat, Alaska. (Unattributed)

20 July 1933: At 11:58 a.m. (17:58 UTC) on the fifth day of his solo around-the-world flight, Wiley Post took off from Khabarovsk, Siberia, heading toward Nome, Alaska, 2,416 miles (3,888 kilometers) to the east-northeast (great circle route).

A very tired Wiley Post photographed at Flat, Alaska, after Winnie Mae has been repaired. (University of Alaska image identifier UAF-1998-129-3)
A very tired Wiley Post photographed at Flat, Alaska, after Winnie Mae has been repaired. (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Post missed his destination and, exhausted, became lost. He flew over Alaska for approximately seven hours before sighting a remote U.S. Army Signal Corps radio station at Flat, Alaska, a small gold mining town located along the Iditarod Trail in southwestern Alaska.

Post landed his Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR105W, The Winnie Mae of Oklahoma, on a small landing field at the eastern edge of the town. The airplane’s wheels sank into the soft surface and Winnie Mae nosed over, damaging its propeller, engine cowling and right landing gear strut. Wiley Post was unhurt.

The International News Service (INS) reported:

“. . . Utter exhaustion which numbed his mind so that he could not properly pilot his course caused him to become lost for seven hours over Alaska yesterday after he had been in the air more than 22 hours on his 3,000-mile hop from Siberia to Alaska during which he battled the most adverse weather conditions, he revealed today.

“Sighting the Flat radio station caused him to land here. He said that he could at least get his directions again. He ran into soft ground on the landing field, nosing over, breaking his right wheel strut, damaging the engine cowling and valves and bending the propeller. Post was uninjured. . . .”

A replacement propeller was flown in from Fairbanks and repairs were made. He continued the following day, taking off at 7:28 a.m., local.

The “Winnie Mae”, Wiley Post’s Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR105W, after nosing over at Flat, Alaska, 20 July 1933. (Unattributed)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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