the problem is only one of small operations versus largeoperations and thus has been resolved? As recently as the end of 2012, it was announced that theOrion capsule is to be tested for a medium (around 8.9kilometres per second) re-entry speed at expectedtemperatures of up to 2,200 °C. (Orion Factsheet, 2012)This approach is entirely reasonable if NASA intends toinvestigate re-entry thermal conditions step by step,having had no preliminary experience. Again, it is evidentthat there is no reliance whatsoever on the claimedaccomplishments of the Apollo program.
Re-entry into the Earth’s Atmosphere
Another crucial link in the successful chain of operationsis the choice of landing trajectory. The re-entry profile inparticular determines critical requirements for the thermalshield. According to NASA, the Apollo systems performeda "direct entry", i.e., that which is along the simplest,shortest trajectory. But this choice carries with it thepenalty of maximum atmosphereresistance—resulting in maxi-mum heat for the landingcapsule and maximum gravi-tational deceleration overload forthe crew in the module. Anothertechnique known as "skip entry"seems now to be preferred forreturning crew modules from theMoon. A skip entry meansentering the Earth's atmospherewith a longer gliding path and asoft bouncing on the Earth'satmosphere, which allows thelanding capsule to experience less heat and, at the sametime, far less gravitational overload. NASA has reviewed trajectories for returning to Earthfrom the Moon and concludes that compared to thoseused during Apollo, the new concept should beimplemented: "…it is recommended that NASA utilizeskip-entry guidance on the lunar return trajectories. Theskip-entry lunar return technique provides an approach forreturning crew to a single…landing site anytime during alunar month. The Apollo-style direct-entry techniquerequires water or land recovery over a wide range oflatitudes." (Arch. Study, 2005, p. 39) A wide range of latitudes would normally mean a fewdegrees on the globe, which in turn would mean a largeterritory a few hundred kilometres across, which is in linewith theoretical estimates for direct entry. Strangelyenough, to say that Apollo-style direct entry requires alarge territory entirely contradicts the historical recordsregarding the Apollo CM splashdowns that were regularlyaccomplished within a short distance from the recoveryaircraft carriers. Typical splashdown miss distances of justa few kilometres were recorded for each Apollo missionrecovery—which should make the current recovery teamsvery envious, as they presently pick up astronautsreturning from the International Space Station (ISS) interritories dozens of kilometres across. As a matter of fact,by mentioning "a wide range of latitudes", the modernNASA research teams denounced the declaredachievement of the Apollo program in using the direct-entry technique. Today, NASA teams actually have todevelop a precise landing technique which was apparentlyavailable in the late 1960s. It is worthwhile noting that in the period ofapproximately three years since late 2009—the time of the Augustine Study—to the end of 2012, the developmentswith the Orion capsule were focused on its completion fortrips to and safe return from the ISS, which, of course, isonly stationed in LEO where the capsule would notexperience the same extreme conditions as would be thecase with flights returning from the Moon.
Radiation beyond Low Earth Orbit
Regarding the radiation limits for travelling beyond LEO:"NASA relies on externalguidance from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) andthe National Council onRadiation Protection andMeasurements (NCRP) for estab-lishing dose limits. Due to thelack of data and knowledge, theNAS and NCRP recom-mendedthat radiation limits forexploration missions could notbe determined until new sciencedata and knowledge [were]obtained." (Arch. Study, 2005, p.109) The next year, in swift response to NASA's request, theNCRP produced a report with a title to puzzle anunprepared reader: "Information Needed to MakeRadiation Protection Recommendations for SpaceMissions Beyond Low-Earth Orbit". (NCRP, 2006) By this,the NCRP admits that there is no substantial informationavailable on cosmic radiation beyond LEO, including dataon lunar surface radiation, despite the allegedachievements of Apollo. The Augustine Committee quotes another report, thistime from the National Research Council (NRC, 2008),which largely confirms the problem: "Lack of knowledgeabout the biological effects of and responses to spaceradiation is the single most important factor limiting theprediction of radiation risk associated with human spaceexploration." (Augustine, 2009, p. 100)The National Academy of Sciences needed some rawinformation just to be able to start working on thoserecommendations. Of course, some data should havebeen readily available to the American scientificcommunity over the 40 years since the Apollo program. Common sense tells us that information regardingradiation effects on the Moon, if such information exists at
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a wide range of latitudes
,the modern NASA researchteams denounced thedeclared achievement of theApollo program in using thedirect-entry technique.