The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a US Government funded research and development center. The JPL is owned by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
US Navy Operation Deep Freeze had a Team of JPL scientists working at the DVDP.
There is a tradition at JPL to eat "good luck peanuts" before critical mission events such as orbital insertions or landings. As the story goes, in the 1960's the JPL Ranger unmanned space missions had experienced failure after failure. The Ranger spacecrafts were created by JPL to photograph the surface of the Moon in preparation for the later manned NASA Apollo Lunar Landing. The first successful Ranger mission to photograph the Lunar Surface (Ranger 7) occurred after a JPL staff member had decided to pass out peanuts to relieve tension. The JPL staff jokingly decided that the peanuts must have been a good luck charm and the tradition persisted.
JPL Engineers designing and building early Ranger Spacecraft
JPL Ranger 7 was launched in July 1964 and was completely successful by photographing its way down to the target area in a lunar plain. Ranger 7 sent more than 4,300 pictures from six cameras to waiting scientists and engineers before the planned impact. The images revealed that crater-on-crater, gently rolling contours were the dominant features of the Moon's surface. The photos from Ranger 7 helped JPL and NASA Engineers to design the later Lunar Surveyor and prepare for the manned Landing on the Moon.
JPL Mission Designers and Ranger 7 model
First Image of the Moon taken by a U.S. Spacecraft. JPL Ranger 7 July 31, 1964
Antarctica's Dry Valleys is often referred to as the "Living Moon" as scientists consider the Dry Valleys to be the closest of any terrestrial environment to the Moon.
From the photos sent back from the JPL Ranger Missions NASA learned the the Lunar Surface was rocky and heavily cratered. But was the surface sufficiently solid to support the 33,500-pound Apollo lunar lander? Or was it so deeply covered in dust from billions of years of meteorite impacts, as some theorized, that the lunar module would simply sink out of sight, dooming the astronauts? These and a hundred other questions about the surface composition dogged mission planners, so a robot would make the dangerous journey first - the Lunar Surveyor from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Fifty Years of Moon Dust: JPL was the Pathfinder for Apollo
bbkyle- this is most excellent information. As a lifelong aerospace guy I had no idea about this effort, either by the Soviets or this specific work in Antarctica (and my company is the one that operates the supply missions there). The watch content is icing on the cake. Did you write up this story yourself? If so it is superb.
In the 1950s and 1960s US Missile Defense Strategy against nuclear armed missiles mostly centered around detecting offensive launch events and tracking inbound ballistic missiles but with limited ability to actually defend against the missile. That strategy changed in the 1970s.
In 1969 the US had sent a very public message to the Soviet Union and the Entire World by Landing a Man on the Moon. The Soviets very quickly and quietly responded to America's Claim of Cold War Victory with a successful launch of an undetected R36Orb Missile traveling South over Antarctica. Throughout the early 1970s the Soviet Union continued with regular highly successful test Missile launches (on average once every 6 months) going over Antarctica.
It was the Height of the Cold War and messages were important weapons used by both sides. It was now the Americans turn to send a message to Moscow. Scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Security Agency (NSA) working in Antarctica were not there to track Soviet missles.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built in 280 BC the Colossus stood at the Entrance to Rhodes Harbor in Ancient Greece. It was similar in construction and size of the US Statue of Liberty standing in New York Harbor. The Colossus collapsed during an Earthquake in 226 BC and was Never Rebuilt. Both the Colossus and Statute of Liberty represent monuments to Freedom for All Mankind!
IMHO, you have made an amazing and wide-ranging contribution to our general knowledge base.
About all I can add is that you may find it interesting to read Norman Mailer's "Of a fire on the moon" for his unique take on the space race. I was 11 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and it seemed like a magical event. I read this book in the mid-80s and it helped me understand how this "magic" was an extension of the arms race between two super-powers. A sobering moment in my life.
In 1968 Soviet Scientists working at the Strategic Rocket Forces began further improvement of the R36 ICBM. The new design utilized MIRV technology with a payload that contained multiple warheads each capable of being aimed to hit a different target. The New Missile was designated R36M.
The R36M was the world's most lethal weapon ever built. The R36M has a throw-weight of 8,800 kg. This makes the Soviet R36M the world's heaviest ICBM. For comparison, the heaviest ever US ICBM (the retired LGM-118 Peacekeeper) had less than half of the R36M throw-weight at 4,000 kg. With more powerful two stage engines and a very high throw-weight each R36M was capable of carrying a payload of up to 10 thermonuclear warheads.
The first test launch of the R-36M missile took place on February 21, 1973 though some sources suggest that testing began in October 1972
Most military analysts believe the R36Orb 8K67 was intended to be the very first weapon to be used in the event of a Nuclear Conflict. A surprise weapon going South over Antarctica designed to destroy American leadership and nuclear command and control systems. The R36Orb could be put into orbit and remain there for some time. Once commanded the R36Orb could quickly release its thermonuclear warhead anywhere along the orbit's ground track. Silo based ICBMs launched from the Soviet Union take approximately 25 minutes to reach US targets. An orbiting R36Orb could launch an attack in less than 2 minutes.
Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces continued with secret testing of the R36Orb 8K67. Flights included testing re-entry vehicles, braking maneuvers, retrofiring of engines, and repositioning. Test launches included deorbiting over Western Russia and Ukraine and ground track orbiting over Antarctica. For monitoring over Antarctica the Soviets continued building "Scientific Research Stations" and by 1972 the Soviets had outposts entirely circling the Antarctica continent.
By the early 1970s the Soviets were perfecting the Ultimate First Strike Weapon.
Soviet Aircraft delivering supplies to Vostok Research Station in Antarctica 1970's
I'm noticing that prices of desirable pieces: 62mas, 6159, 6105 (both variants) are stagnant and nowhere near the record highs we saw in 2019. However, supply and inventory is very low. Sellers seem to be holding onto their pieces, as new listings have become few and far between.
As early as...
I don’t mean existing models with finer points, like a screw down crown on 6105s.
More like, what were some fantastic models that could have been made with existing parts.
I find the 7549 300m Professional SS Tuna to be a fantastic watch. I have a fairly clean one from 1982 I wear on an...