Look­ing back: The Sky at Night

July 1969

Sky at Night Magazine - - INSIDE THE SKY AT NIGHT -

On the 15 July episode of The Sky at Night, 50 years ago, Pa­trick Moore looked ahead to Apollo 11, due to launch just two days later.

One con­cern about the land­ing was the threat from mi­crom­e­te­orites – small frag­ments of de­bris travelling through space at tens of kilo­me­tres per sec­ond. Though tiny, their in­cred­i­ble speed means they can hit space­craft hard enough to dent the me­tal of the outer hull.

While they were on the lu­nar sur­face the astro­nauts had to rely on their space­suits for pro­tec­tion. For­tu­nately, the suits had many lay­ers so even if the outer ones failed, the inner ones would hold. Even the hel­met vi­sors were made from spe­cial ma­te­rial that could with­stand such im­pacts. In fact, the moon­walk­ers were prob­a­bly safer than astro­nauts space­walk­ing while in Earth or­bit. Tests from the Gemini mis­sions found that there were many more mi­crom­e­te­orites near Earth, and an in­creas­ing num­ber of them were man-made – just 12 years into the Space Age, space junk was al­ready be­com­ing a prob­lem.

Apollo’s lu­nar space­suits were made to with­stand im­pacts from mi­crom­e­te­orites

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