John Young’s Speech At RTTM

“That Saturn shakes purty bad, but not near as bad as it did in the movie…” in reference to Apollo XIII.

He’s describing his flight to the moon.

The Principal Investigator for the seismometer told him, “If you don’t put my experiment out right, don’t come back.”

He’s describing a spinout in a lunar rover. “Do you know what saved us? …There was nobody coming the other way. I’m sure that when we get two rovers up there we’ll have the first lunar auto accident.”

He describes dust as one of the key challenges to lunar operations (a point made by a speaker yesterday, who was a designer of the rover).

He illustrates the fractal nature of the lunar surface by pointing out an object that looks like it’s a few feet away from him, which is actually the distance of two football fields.

He’s showing a picture of the far side, which is very heavily cratered, particularly in the highlands. He’s clearly very concerned about the threat of extraterrestrial object impacts. He points out King Crater, which is 77 km in diameter (he claims that the object that created it could have wiped out Nevada and much of California.

Now he’s talking about supervolcanoes, three of which are in the US (including Yellowstone and the Long Valley Caldera by Mammoth Lakes in California–I didn’t catch the third one). Yellowstone is overdue to blow, and no one knows when the next one will happen. When it does, it will likely wipe out civilization.

“You’re ten times more likely to die in a civilization-ending event than in a commercial airline crash. NASA is working to make airline flights ten times as safe, so you’ll then be a hundred times more likely…”

He’s praising Bob Bigelow for his work on inflatable structures.

“You’ll know we’re serious about going back to the moon when you see people heading back there with shovels.”

In a question on the state of the art in new suits, talking about the need for a good glove: “The human hand is a heck of a piece of machinery, and sometimes gets into trouble going places that it doesn’t belong.”

Ends by showing a picture of his grandchildren: overall theme of his talk is protecting the planet. He thinks we’re in a space race, but not with another country, but rather against nature.