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So what happened to the lunar module January 23, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I was wondering the other day, as one does, about what happened to the Lunar Module after it docked with Apollo 11 for the last time. It’s one of those things where a perfectly obvious question comes to mind years after it should. After all this isn’t a small thing. The Lunar Module brought Armstrong and Aldrin to the lunar surface, and then the ascent stage took off again and rendezvoused with the Command Module, where Michael Collins had spent a presumably quite lonely 21 hours or so, in lunar orbit (and been the furthest single human alone from Earth in all of human history to that point). The two astronauts transferred to the Command Module and then the Lunar Module was… well… what?

After docking with the CSM, piloted by astronaut Michael Collins, at 21:34:00 UT, the Lunar Module was ejected into lunar orbit at 00:01:01 UT July 22. The fate of the Lunar Module is still unknown. But it is believed that it crashed into the Moon’s surface sometime within the following 1 to 4 months.


For the record, almost all of the other LM’s ascent stages’ locations are known. Only the ascent stages’ of both Apollo 11 and 16 are yet unknown. The main part of the lander is still there, on Mare Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility), as a monument to humankind’s first boots on the lunar surface.

So presumably at some point these will be found again, or what is left of them. And then there’s Apollo 11’s ‘Snoopy.

When its test flight was over, Snoopy was divided into its two sections. The descent stage, which on later landing missions would remain on the lunar surface, was allowed to crash into the moon. The ascent stage, which included the crew cockpit, was jettisoned such that it entered orbit around the sun. All of the other Apollo lunar modules’ ascent stages were purposely destroyed, either by burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere or crashing back onto the moon. That makes Snoopy the only once-manned U.S. spacecraft still in outer space without a crew. Forty-two years later, it is still out there — somewhere — waiting to be found.

This from wiki is intriguing:

Snoopy’s descent stage was jettisoned in lunar orbit; its current location is unknown. Further, it is unclear whether the descent stage impacted the lunar surface, or if it remains in lunar orbit. Phil Stooke, a planetary scientist who studied the lunar crash sites of the LM’s ascent stages, wrote that the descent stage “crashed at an unknown location”,[31] and another source stated that the descent stage “eventually impact(ed) within a few degrees of the equator on the near side”.[32] However, Richard Orloff and an official NASA mission summary stated simply that the descent stage entered lunar orbit, remaining silent on the question of whether the stage later impacted the Moon.[33][34] An amateur astronomy blog begun in early 2020 explored the possibility that the descent stage may still be in lunar orbit, using computer simulation.[35]


1. Tomboktu - January 23, 2021

That makes Snoopy the only once-manned U.S. spacecraft still in outer space without a crew. Forty-two years later, it is still out there — somewhere — waiting to be found.

Cue: sci-fi story about the bacteria the crew transferred to it on Apollo 10 have evolved during its extra-Neptune orbit and are now, unknown to the now global space agency that has replaced NASA, on their way back to a rendezvous with earth with unexpected biological consequences for Cernan and Stafford’s female descendants 4,387 years from now.

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