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NASA

+ - A Problem with Apollo That Only a Kid Could Solve

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Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Here's a story from a few years ago that provides an interesting footnote to a problem with the spaceflight that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. It was around 10:00 at night on July 23, and 10-year-old Greg Force was at home with his mom and three brothers as his father, Charles Force, was at work as director of the NASA tracking station in Guam, that was about to play a critical role in the return of Apollo 11 to Earth. A powerful antenna at Guam connected NASA communications with Apollo 11, and the antenna was the only way for NASA to make its last communications with the astronauts before splashdown. But at the last minute on that night, a bearing in the antenna failed, rendering it nearly useless. To properly replace the bearing would have required dismantling the entire antenna, but Charles Force thought if he could get more grease around the failed bearing, it would probably be fine. The only problem was, nobody at the station had an arm small enough to actually reach in through the two-and-a-half inch opening so Force sent someone out to his home to pick up Greg. Greg reached into the tiny hole and packed grease around the failed bearing. It worked, and the station was able to successfully complete its communications role in the mission and Apollo 11 splashed down safely the next day. Charles Force went on to become Associate Administrator Space Operations, the number six position at NASA and was instrumental in the development of the current Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. Greg went on to get his pilot's license, and even though his career now as a gymnastics school owner isn't exactly space-related, he says that "ever since then, I've followed the space program.""
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A Problem with Apollo That Only a Kid Could Solve

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