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Letter: A link to Apollo 11

Published: 7/19/2019 9:22:55 AM
Modified: 7/19/2019 9:22:44 AM

I was a principal investigator for ALSEP, the Apollo 11 Scientific Experiment Package. Working for the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL), in Bedford, Mass., I had derived the semi-analytic lunar physical ephemeris that NASA was using for its lunar missions. (That ephemeris, which was eventually incorporated into the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Astronomical Almanac, remained extant for decades.)

I led a small NASA-funded AFCRL team that built a 1.5-meter aperture laser ranging telescope in the Arizona Catalina Mountains, and I was at our Mount Lemmon observatory when Apollo 11 landed. Alas, about a year later, the Air Force decreed that AFCRL should not be pursuing non-military NASA research, so we discontinued our operations and shipped the telescope on an Air Force cargo plane to Australia. (It was installed in the Orroral Valley.)

DONALD ECKHARDT

Canterbury


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