Ok, riddle me this, Batman:
I was too young to witness the moon landings in 1969 - 197?, but as a latter-day afficionado, one thing has always puzzled me. We have always been told that it took three days for the Apollo spacecraft to reach the
moon. For example, Apollo 11 lifted off on July 16, 1969, and the “Eagle” landed more or less three days later on July 20th.
Now, the moon is supposed to be something like 230,000 miles from the earth. I’ve read that the modern Space Shuttle orbits the earth at something like Mach 25, which, even if figured at its lowest possible speed (with Mach 1 being 750 mph), would be 18,750 miles per hour. This fits in with accounts of orbits being approximately 90 minutes, given that the earth is approximately 24,000 miles in circumference at the equator.
Anyway, to leave orbit, we can surmise that the Apollo vehicles must have accelerated to a speed greater than 18,750 mph. 230,000 divided by 18,750 is twelve and a quarter hours. Why, then, did the trip take three
This was YOUR generation – Please, give me the straight dope, Cecil.
p.s. I realize that the Apollo missions pointed ahead of the moon’s position, much in the same way that you “lead” with a shotgun while duck hunting, in the hopes of the spacecraft arriving in the same place as the
moon at the same time. But six times longer… ???