Friday, 23 September 2011

Major tom to ground control by crescent

Paranormal Activity may have been cleverly paced, expertly marketed and wildly profitable, but it was by no means a perfect film. For instance, it wasn't set on the moon. And there weren't any aliens in it. And nobody ever confused it with a distant, imaginary sequel to a Tom Hanks film from 1995.
Happily, though, Apollo 18 is ready to swoop in and correct all of these flaws. If you liked Paranormal Activity then you're going to love Apollo 18, mainly because it basically looks like the exact same film but set on the moon. "There's a reason we've never gone back to moon," teases the poster for the new horror sci-fi flick "Apollo 18." The movie claims to reveal decades-old footage of astronauts on a secret mission two years after Apollo 17 – the last real expedition to the moon – flew in 1972. (Without giving away anything that isn't in the trailer, lunar aliens apparently share some blame for our 40-year absence from the moon.) n actuality, NASA did prepare for Apollos 18, 19 and 20. But these missions were scrapped amid budgetary concerns and a decline in public interest. 

"The whole world was glued to Apollo 11," said David R. Williams, planetary curation scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "But by the time they got to 16 and 17 the general public just really wasn't that interested anymore."
ven before Apollo 11 – the first lunar landing in July 1969 – the government had already axed the program's loftier ambitions. Planners had envisioned Apollo leading to a lunar base, for instance, and a manned mission to Mars was entering the conversation.
"There could've been a much more protracted program with a lot more interesting hardware and complex missions," said David S.F. Portree, manager of the Regional Planetary Information Facility for the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Ariz. Portree has written historical texts for NASA and blogs at "Beyond Apollo."

The Apollo program originally called for 10 moon landings – Apollo missions 11 through 20. NASA even selected landing sites for 18, 19 and 20. (After the near-disaster of Apollo 13 and later cancellations, administrators shuffled the sites around. Apollo 15, for example, landed at the Hadley Rille, where Apollo 19 would have visited.)

"The general idea was to more or less repeat Apollo 17 for three other locations to really get the moon mapped out," said Williams. 

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