Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today's tidbit is an Apollo rock hammer. This reproduction, seen on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere, is a perfect facsimile of the aluminum hammer used on the Apollo flights. It's about a foot in length. There were two primary uses for the hammer: to break rocks into smaller samples, or to gain access to interior samples of rocks; and to drive the core sample tubes into the soil. The latter task is the only time the hammers were used on Apollo 11, but progressive landings saw much more utility out of the humble beater. On Apollo 12, for instance, it was used as a "universal tool" (per Pete Conrad) to beat on the nuclear fuel cask on the side of the Lunar Module to free-up the overheated fuel rod. By Apollo 14 and 15, core samples were all the rage. It took about 1.3 hammer blows per centimeter to drive the tubes into the lunar soil (on average).

After extensive use breaking rocks on Apollo 15, Dave Scott famously dropped a feather and his hammer from shoulder height to prove that they would hit the ground at the same time (they did, as there was no atmosphere to slow the feather). And on Apollo 17, Jack Schmitt, who used his rock hammer more than any other moonwalker, flung it into the wastes of Taurus-Littrow just prior to returning to the Lunar Module for the last time.

Today has been a reconnaissance day- swinging through various area bookstores to see if my latest book is on display yet. Yes for Barnes and Noble, no for Borders. Vromans (a local indie store) will have them in stock by July 7th. Can't wait!

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Welcome to the Missions to the Moon book blog. This is a place to re-live the heady days of the Apollo and Soyuz lunar programs- perhaps the crowning achievements of the 20th Century. Many blog entries will include a new downloadable image or artifact from the space age- items rarely seen and not available in print. It's all in the spirit of my newest book, Missions to the Moon- to remember the great adventure of the Golden Age of space exploration, and ponder what wonders await us in space.

For more info on the author, go to www.rodpylebooks.com.