Apollo 8, the facts do matter
The very questionable Apollo 8 timeline.
The Apollo 8 mission took place in December 1968 and was the second manned Apollo flight. According to space history it orbited the moon with three astronauts on board before returning safely back to Earth. The Apollo 8 project raises many questions with few answers. Did you know that the Apollo 8 flight was originally scheduled to be an unmanned Earth orbital mission? Here is the story of Apollo 8 in a few simple steps.
The following is from a document on the NASA website about Apollo 8 launch operations (AS 503 was the Apollo 8 rocket)
“When AS-503 – the third Saturn V – was erected on 20 December 1967, it had been scheduled for the unmanned launch of a boilerplate Apollo in May 1968. By late January the launch team had stacked the remaining stages on mobile launcher 1. Despite the success of Apollo 4, the flight hardware still carried considerable research instrumentation. As the Apollo 6 mission neared, KSC hastened to complete the integrated testing of AS-503 in the assembly building. Admiral B. O. Middleton, KSC’s Apollo Program Manager, had informed Phillips that, if Apollo 6 failed and another unmanned Saturn V were needed, AS-503 could roll out to the pad within ten days. Final preparations for the move were held pending analysis of the Apollo 6 flight test data and the decision whether AS-503 would be manned or not. KSC’s chance to demonstrate the relative speed and economy of the mobile concept disappeared in the ripples created by pogo.”[*1]
As you can read here, Apollo 8 was originally scheduled as an unmanned Earth orbital flight, for May 1968. The next step was to make it a manned Earth orbital mission? Lets see what the NASA.gov website has to say about this.
“Despite the disappointment of the Apollo 6 flight, NASA was reasonably confident in its analysis of the Saturn V problems. On 23 April, Mueller recommended a revised Apollo schedule to Administrator Webb, including provisions to man Apollo 8. The next day in a press briefing at NASA Headquarters, Phillips stated that, in spite of the problems, Apollo 6 had been a safe mission. He supported Mueller's recommendation by advocating that NASA prepare for a manned flight late in 1968 on the third Saturn V with the option to revert to an unmanned mission if corrections did not meet the requirements felt necessary to ensure crew safety." [*1]
"Administrator Webb agreed on 17 August to man Apollo 8 for an earth-orbital mission, but postponed the decision on a circumlunar mission until after the Apollo 7 flight. The launch of Apollo 8 was set for 6 December." [*2]
On the 17th of August 1968 Apollo 8 was still scheduled to be a manned Earth orbital mission, planned for December that same year. When did NASA make the decision to change the manned Earth orbital mission into a Lunar orbital mission? The answer will shock you.
“The Apollo 7 mission ended with splashdown on 22 October. Six days later, NASA outlined the steps that would lead to a final decision on the next manned Apollo during the week of 11 November. Dr. Thomas O. Paine, acting Administrator, said: “The final decision on whether to send Apollo 8 around the moon will be made after a thorough assessment of the total risks involved and the total gains to be realized in this next step toward a manned lunar landing. We will fly the most advanced mission for which we are fully prepared that does not unduly risk the safety of the crew.” [*3]
“On 12 November NASA made its decision public - Apollo 8 would fly a lunar-orbital mission beginning 21 December.” [*3]
First it was an unmanned low Earth orbit flight, then it was changed to a manned low Earth orbital flight. Finally just six weeks before lift-off, on the 12th of November 1968, it was changed to a lunar orbital flight. Within six weeks they had to change all procedures from an Earth orbital mission to a trip around the moon? This seems very dodgy. If you read the documents from the NASA website it does appear that NASA was under an enormous time pressure and was far behind schedule. Perhaps they thought if we can't make it we can just fake it. If it is that simple to change a low Earth orbital mission into a lunar orbital mission then other space agencies would had done the same. But the most remarkable thing is that for over 50 years none of these space agencies have even tried to achieve a manned lunar orbital mission. Don't you think that NASA is testing your intelligence?
Warnings from Russia,
A statement about high solar activity made by the Russian scientist Dr Petrow was reported in a Dutch newspaper on the 23rd of December 1968. It was also reported by a US corespondent in Moscow, who echoed the concerns of Dr Petrow during the live CBS Apollo 8 broadcast with Walter Cronkite as host.
MOSCOW (DPA / AFP) The Russian scholar G. Petrow wished the Apollo 8 flight all the best. Petrow, who is the head of the space research institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, writes in Prawda that it should not be forgotten that the Apollo 8 flight takes place during a period of high solar activity, and that the three American astronauts can therefore be exposed to high doses of radiation. Petrouw believes that the Apollo 8 flight is near the flight path of the Russian space probes Zond 5 and 6. One of the peculiarities of the Apollo system is that man apparently plays the main role in the control of the spacecraft, according to Petrow. The Soviet Union, he adds, is currently developing systems that can both function automatically and be operated manually.[*4]
Warnings from The United Kingdom,
Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell spoke out against the stupid idea to send Apollo 8 to the moon. Here is a translation of a Dutch newspaper article published on the 21st of December 1969.
Apollo 8 moon journey is "utterly absurd" says Sir Bernard Lovell
LONDON, Nov. (AFP) - The director of the British radio observatory in Jodrell Bank, Sir Bernard Lovell, sharply condemned the planned journey to the moon of three spacemen on board Apollo 8, by calling it "utterly absurd." In an interview with the London newspaper "Evening News" he stated that there is a big chance that the three astronauts never return to earth, or even if they do, they will die when they reenter earth's atmosphere, at that time it is operating with a speed of 40,000 km per hour. No human being can survive this he said.
Lovell had previously stated that the Russians have solved the issue of returning to earth by a method of bouncing against the higher layers of the atmosphere, like the Zond 6 did previously. He added however that the Russians are very cautious with their manned space flights.[*6]
A few days after the news article was published Sir Bernard Lovell appeared on a live CBS Apollo 8 broadcast hosted by Walter Cronkite and astronaut John Glenn (see video below). During this broadcast Sir Bernard Lovell was bullied into retracting his words, although you can see that he is not comfortable at all with the whole situation. John Glenn continued with his questioning of Bernard Lovell until the live connection with the UK was abruptly cut off.
Warnings from Poland,
Polish Professors Piotrowski and Paczkowski warned that the Apollo 8 astronauts would be at great risk.
WARSAW - Two Polish scholars have stated that in their opinion the Apollo 8 flight has no scientific purpose, also they say that the flight around the moon is too early and therefore the three astronauts are at risk. The criticism comes from Prof. Piotrowski, head of the space research committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Prof. Paczkowski, chairman of the space commission. [*7]
Warnings from United States,
During the CBS live coverage of Apollo 8 the Chief of WCBS, Gordon Barnes, spoke about his concerns (once again hosted by Walter Cronkite). The question from Gordon Barnes echoed the concerns of British scientist Sir Bernard Lovell. If you watch the video you can see that Cronkite is unimpressed by the critical questions.
It seems strange indeed. Apollo 8 was only the second manned Apollo flight and it went straight for Lunar orbit. There was never even an unmanned flight to test how the Apollo spacecraft would behave on the trip to the moon and in Lunar orbit. Apollo 8 seemed like a test itself, a test to see how the world would react to a fake lunar mission. No space agency would send their second manned mission to the moon and back. If it was that easy the Russians and other space nations would all have orbited the moon by with astronauts by now.