The Apollo moon program’s Mission Control Center has been restored and opened to the public. Check out the 1969 time capsule.

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Apollo Mission Control Center

Exactly 50 years ago, on July 16, 1969, NASA staff in the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center celebrated as Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins successfully blasted off of Earth, headed for the moon.

Armstrong and Aldrin stepped foot onto the lunar surface four days later, again with help from Mission Control. 

The fateful control room in Houston, Texas (that’s who astronauts are talking to when they communicate with "Houston") was used to direct 42 space missions in total, starting with Gemini IV in 1965. Flight controllers in Mission Control monitored all the Apollo moon missions, including the first moonwalk. After the last space shuttle launch in 1992, NASA moved to a different control room and, later, a new building. 

Over time, consoles were unplugged, paint chipped, wallpaper peeled, and equipment fell into disrepair. People with building access even occasionally popped in to eat lunch there or take buttons as souvenirs, as the New York Times reported

But after six years and $5 million in investment, a team has restored Mission Control to its former glory. The space opened to the public on July 1, 2019 and now lives on today as it looked during Apollo 11. 

Here’s what the room was like then, and what it’s like to visit now.

SEE ALSO: NASA’s next Mars rover will launch in 2020, and it’s being built before our eyes — here’s what the robot’s birth has looked like

The restored Apollo Mission Control Center has been reupholstered and decorated with historically accurate details — including rotary phones, coffee mugs, and cigarettes — to look just as it did in July 1969.

 

 

In total, 400,000 people worked on the Apollo programs, and Mission Control was at the center of it all (on Earth, at least).

The room was cold and smelled of coffee and tobacco, according to Time.

The flight controllers in that room waved American flags as the Apollo 11 astronauts splashed down safely on Earth on July 24, 1969.

In total, the room was used during all 14 Apollo missions, nine Gemini missions, and 21 space shuttle missions.

Just one year ago, Mission Control looked like this. The empty room’s carpet was worn and stained. Monitors’ had been scratched. Metal appeared rusted, and the screens at the front of the room were broken.

Anyone with access to the building could come and go as they pleased, the Times reported, but that meant people occasionally left behind garbage.

Many buttons and dials had gone missing, since visitors sought out souvenirs.

Gene Kranz, an Apollo-era flight director who later became the director of NASA flight operations, told the Times that he had to clean up trash before giving any tours.

"This place was not representative of historic mission control," Kranz told the Times. "The configuration of the consoles in no way represented where we were and what we did."

Because the room was used throughout the space-shuttle program in the 1990s, much of the original equipment from the Apollo era had been replaced.

"Alumni who worked in flight control during the Apollo era had been advocating for years to do something about the state of the room," William Harris, president and CEO of Space Center Houston, told Houstonia Magazine. In 2013, Kranz and others decided to pursue a restoration project.

"The priority at Johnson Space Center is the current missions, the future missions, not preserving the past," Harris added.

 

Restoring the Mission Control Center was not easy — funding was the hardest part. The group needed $5 million to get the room back in shape.

The nearby city of Webster, Texas, where many Apollo-era staff lived during the program’s heyday, put $3.5 million toward the restoration.

Space Center Houston — the museum associated with Johnson Space Center — raised over $500,000 on Kickstarter, and the city of Webster matched $400,000 of that fundraised total.

Restoration work started in July 2017. Photos from the 1960s helped the restoration team recreate the aesthetic of the Apollo era. They tracked down the consoles’ original green paint and found extra viewing-room wallpaper hidden behind a fire extinguisher.

The group even pulled ceiling tiles that matched the originals from a phone booth in the Johnson Space Center lobby, according to the Times.

The restorers hunted down old equipment and other vintage items. The group placed a box in the Space Center lobby with a note asking NASA employees to return anything they had from the Apollo era.

"We got a lot of items back this way," Harris told Houstonia. "More than you would have expected."

Installing LED lights helped make the lighting more look like it did in 1969 while also protecting the room’s contents from UV exposure.

"People came out of the woodwork from all over the place to give us items from that time that they thought would help," Harris said.

The team sought out historically accurate trash cans, chairs, and other items by scavenging around the Johnson Space Center, bidding on eBay, and requesting donations.

One curator got a phone call from a person whose father had worked at the factory that made the original console buttons. They offered a bag full of them, Houstonia reported. 

"It was great, because we really did need them," Harris said.

Today, the restored Mission Control Center boasts historically accurate coat racks, ash trays, flight-control manuals, and a coffee station to make the room feel like a time capsule.

The consoles are littered with pens, pencils, maps, stopwatches, binders, glasses, cigar boxes, and Winston or Marlboro cigarettes.

When the restoration team couldn’t find original items from the ’60s, they recreated objects with the most historically accurate materials available.

Recreating the information displayed on monitors and screens was especially challenging. According to a Space Center Houston blog post, "photographs and films provided some clues, but many focused on the flight controllers and not the screens."

"Due to the low light level of the room, many of the screens in the photos and films were overexposed when adjusted to capture the flight controllers," Paul Spana, the blog post‘s author, wrote.

The team wound up shipping the consoles to the Cosmophere space museum in Kansas, where experts restored and reanimated them.

Today, the five large screens at the front of the room display recreations of the images seen during during the Apollo 11 moon landing. The smaller consoles display data used that day.

"After 50 years, the flight controllers didn’t recall a lot of the details about what was on the screens — they had been focused on getting the astronauts to the moon and back safely," Spana wrote. "Between their memory, books, photos, and the digitization of films that haven’t been seen in a long time, the forgotten details began to fall in place."

Mission Control opened to visitors on July 1. Jennifer Keys, the restoration team’s project manager, described the project as a "herculean effort," according to the Times.

Visitors can buy tickets on Space Center Houston’s website.

 

 

"It was dazzling," Kranz told Times of his first visit to the restored room. "You couldn’t believe this. All of a sudden you were 50 years younger and you wanted to work in there. I wanted back in that room to work."

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On The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 11 Mission, Let’s Look Back At Buzz Aldrin Socking A Moon-Landing Denier

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50th anniverary of Apollo 11 mission and looking back at the time Buzz Aldrin punched a moon-landing denier

Getty Image / Space Frontiers / Stringer

On Tuesday, July 16, 1969, at 9:32 AM, the Apollo 11 blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. A 363-foot-tall Saturn V three-stage liquid-propellant rocket would shoot the Lunar Module (LM-5) and Command Service Module (CSM-107) into space along with the Apollo 11 crew: Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

Mission commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin would become the first two humans to land on the moon at 4:17 PM on July 20, 1969. This 238,000-mile journey to the moon is celebrated by the space and science communities as one of the crowning achievements by NASA and by all of humanity. Armstrong said the miraculous journey was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The moon landing not only captivated the hearts and minds of Americans, but the entire planet. However, many people questioned the entire Apollo 11 mission a few years later. There were conspiracy theorists who believed that the U.S. government faked the moon landing and it was an elaborate hoax to fool the country and other countries, especially the Soviet Union.

RELATED: NASA Mission To Explore Solid Metal Asteroid That Is So Valuable It Could Make Everyone On Earth A Billionaire

Skeptics claim that the U.S. government used Hollywood studios and even enlisting legendary director Stanley Kubrick to fake the moon landing. Many moon-landing deniers argue that there are too many inconsistencies with the photographs taken on the moon and the quality is too high.

Some of the conspiracy theories claiming that the Apollo moon landings were fake have been disproven.

One well-known moon-landing denier is Bart Sibrel, a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Apollo moon landings were staged by NASA with help from the CIA. Sibrel, who is a controversial filmmaker, made four documentaries regarding his conspiracy theory that the moon landing never happened and a government hoax including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon in 2001 and Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? also in 2001.

RELATED: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Spots Glowing Light On Mars

Sibrel is also known for stalking and ambushing Apollo astronauts, then demanding that they put their hand on the Bible and swear on oath that they walked on the moon all while he films them.

On September 9, 2002, Sibrel gained access to Aldrin in a Beverly Hills hotel room by telling him there was an interview for a Japanese television show for children. The moon-landing denier showed Aldrin one of Sibrel’s conspiracy theory documentaries Astronauts Gone Wild. “Well, you’re talking to the wrong guy,” Buzz told Bart about his theory. “Why don’t you talk to the administrator at NASA? We were passengers, we’re guys going on a flight.”

After the unproductive interview, Sibrel continued to badger Buzz outside the hotel. Sibrel not only confronted Buzz, but also got in his face numerous times demanding that he swear that the moon landing never happened and he never made his famous lunar walk.

Sibrel continued to hound Buzz and told the Apollo astronaut: “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t.” Aldrin told Sibrel: “Will you get away from me?”

RELATED: Mysterious Massive Anomaly 5 Times Bigger Than Hawaii Discovered On The Moon And Scientists Don’t Know What It Is

Sibrel continued to harass Aldrin and called Buzz “a coward, and a liar, and a thief.” That’s when Buzz Aldrin had enough. The Apollo astronaut socked the moon-landing denier right in the face with a solid right punch. The interview was definitely over after Buzz tried to make Sibrel see stars. The confrontation and the punch were all captured on video.

Sibrel presented the video to authorities and brought assault charges against Buzz Aldrin. But the court ruled that the conspiracy theorist had provoked the fight and no charges were filed against Aldrin. Sibrel would later write a letter of apology to Aldrin for instigating the fight and calling him names. When you’re one of the handful of people to have walked on the moon, you get a free pass to punch a guy who gets in your face and calls you a coward.

RELATED: Joe Rogan Interview With Man Who Claims To Have Worked On UFOs At Area 51 Is Equally Fascinating And Terrifying

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink looks to begin outfitting human brains with faster input and output starting next year

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Neuralink, the Elon Musk-led startup that the multi-entrepreneur founded in 2017, is working on technology that’s based around ‘threads’ which it says can be implanted in human brains with much less potential impact to the surrounding brain tissue vs. what’s currently used for today’s brain-computer interfaces. “Most people don’t realize, we can solve that with a chip,” Musk said to kick off Neuralink’s event, talking about some of the brain disorders and issues the company hopes to solve.

Musk also said that long-term Neuralink really is about figuring out a way to “achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” “This is not a mandatory thing,” he added. “This is something you can choose to have if you want.”

For now, however, the aim is medical and the plan is to use a robot that Neuralink has created that operates somewhat like a “sewing machine” to implant this threads, which are incredibly thin I(like, between 4 and 6 μm, which means about one-third the diameter of the thinnest human hair), deep within a person’s brain tissue, where it will be capable of performing both read and write operations at very high data volume.

All of this sounds incredibly far-fetched, and to some extent it still is: Neuralink’s scientists told The New York Times in a briefing on Monday that the company has a “long way to go” before it can get anywhere near offering a commercial service. The main reason for breaking cover and talking more freely about what they’re working on, the paper reported, is that they’ll be better able to work out in the open and publish papers, which is definitely an easier mode of operation for something that requires as much connection with the academic and research community as this.

Neuralink1

Neuralink co-founder and president Max Hodak told the NYT that he’s optimistic Neuralink’s tech could theoretically see use somewhat soon in medical use, including potential applications enabling amputees to regain mobility via use of prosthetics and reversing vision, hearing or other sensory deficiencies. It’s hoping to actually begin working with human test subjects as early as next year, in fact, including via possible collaboration with neurosurgeons at Stanford and other institutions.

The current incarnation of Neuralink’s tech would involve drilling actual holes into a subject’s skull in order to insert the ultra thin threads, but future iterations will shift to using lasers instead to create tiny holes that are much less invasive and essentially not felt by a patient, Hodak told the paper. Working on humans next year with something that meets this description for a relatively new company might seem improbable, but Neuralink did demonstrate its technology used on a laboratory rat this week, with performance levels that exceed today’s systems in terms of data transfer. The data from the rat was gathered via a USB-C port in its head, and it provided about 10x more what the best current sensors can offer, according to Bloomberg.

Neurlalink’s advances vs. current BCI methods also include the combined thinness and flexibility of the ‘threads’ used, but one scientist wondered about their longevity when exposed to the brain, which contains a salt mix fluid that can damage and ultimately degrade plastics over time. The plan is also that the times electrodes implanted in the brain will be able to communicate wirelessly with chips outside the brain, providing real time monitoring with unprecedented freedom of motion, without any external wires or connections.

Elon Musk is bankrolling the majority of this endeavour as well as acting as its CEO, with $100 million of the $158 million its raised so far coming from the SpaceX and Tesla CEO. It has 90 employees thus far, and still seems to be hiring aggressively based on its minimal website (which basically only contains job ads). Elon Musk also noted at the outset of today’s presentation that the main reason for the event was in fact to recruit new talent.

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Ableton Live can control modular synths from your computer

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Modular synthesizers are having something of a moment right now. Even mainstream players like Korg are trying to bring them to the masses. So it’s no surprise that Ableton — maker of one of the most popular digital audio workstations (DAW) in the world — is trying to get in on the hype. Today the company officially launched CV Tools, a set of virtual devices for Live 10 that bring your computer and your modular gear closer together.

The primary use case here is obviously using your computer to control a modular synth set up. That could be as simple as just using your PC as a master clock to set a tempo. Or you could, for example, hook up a Moog DFAM and trigger different drum hits from within Live using a control voltage (CV) or play a bassline with your MIDI keyboard. There are also tools for modulation, like LFOs and envelope followers. All of which is to say, if you have a modular rig, controlling it and tweaking patches is now a whole lot easier. And this could be a particular huge boon in a live setting, where it could save you the hassle of searching for a tiny obscure knob or fighting with a tangle of patch cables.

You don’t need a modular rig to use CV Tools, though obviously you won’t be getting the most out of them. There’s a Rotating Rhythm Generator plugin as part of the package, that lets you create "modular-style" beats in MIDI. You can then point that at one of Live’s built in Drum Racks, a virtual instrument or even an external drum machine to create organic and evolving patterns.

CV Tools is a free download for anyone that owns Ableton Live 10 Suite or Live 10 Standard and Max for Live.

Source: Ableton

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Ford just launched a new pickup truck. And it’s free. And it’s an emoji. (F)

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Ford Pickup Truck Emoji Image

 

  • Ford has responded to demands for a pickup truck emoji by designing a candidate that’s made the short list for approval in 2020.
  • "[A]mong the 3,000 approved icons available to emoji users, truck fans noticed a glaring omission: There is no pickup truck," the automaker said in a statement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the pickup-truck world, Ford is king — and has been for decades. The F-150 has been America’s best-selling vehicle since the Reagan administration.

You wouldn’t know it from looking at the emoji selection on your smartphone. While there are cars, trains, tractors, and scooters, there’s no pickup.

"[A]mong the 3,000 approved icons available to emoji users, truck fans noticed a glaring omission: There is no pickup truck," the automaker said in a statement.

"Ford decided it was time to do something about this and is celebrating World Emoji Day with the debut of the pickup truck emoji."

Trucksters can’t begin punching in cryptic emoji texts just yet. Ford actually submitted the design in 2018, the company said, and the rulers of the emoji realm — the Unicode Consortium — could make it official next year. The Ford design, conceived in secret, is on the short list. (In all seriousness, even though Ford produced a tongue-in-cheek video to coincide with the unveiling, it does seem like the car maker kept its emoji development under wraps.)

"When customers started demanding a truck emoji, we knew we had to help make it happen," Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive, said in a statement. "Given the popularity of Ford trucks globally, there’s no one better than Ford to help bring an all-new pickup truck emoji to hard-working texters around the globe."

The emoji is blue and looks to be a crew cab with a short bed. We’ll have to wait to see if it becomes the most-used transportation icon on smartphones.

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Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Ford’s delivery robot that walks on two legs like a human

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Watch CBS livestream the original 1969 Apollo 11 launch broadcast

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If you weren’t alive to witness the historic Apollo 11 mission, CBS has the next best thing. The US broadcaster is livestreaming the original broadcast from July 16th, 1969, letting you relive it as many of us saw it originally — corny commercials included.

The countdown is at about 5 minutes as of the original writing (around 9:32 AM ET), so you’ll need to tune in quickly to see the launch. Walter Cronkite is famously narrating it, with a color commentator you might have heard of, 2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke. Check out the video above, or watch it from CBS’s news site here.

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Bathroom designs that you can escape to: Part 2

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Bathrooms are the little alcoves where we can let our individuality flourish! Given their size and erratic shapes, collecting and organizing the same space is sure like trying to solve with a jig-saw puzzle. Be it minimal, oversized or your personal green zone, this curated selection of bathroom designs is here to inspire you to innovate, reimagine and redecorate that space. Check out our Part 1 of bathroom designs to inspire you better!

Archway inspired bathroom by ITLAS

Olympia Ceramica Introduces Vinyl Inspired Bathroom Sinks by Gianluca Paludi 

The key to bold minimalism is combining striking visuals with functionality, like this stunning honeycomb floor by Casey Keasler 

A bathroom design rendered by M.Serhat Sezgin

Copenhagen Apartment inspiration with all that black and white and fine little tiles by Emil Dervish 

Minimal bathroom accessories by Nichba Design 

All-over penny tile in various ocean hues create a soothing bathroom design by Hatchet Design|Build 

Architecture Studio 07Beach has placed a bathroom alongside a central courtyard at the center of this house in Kyoto to give the clients the feeling of “open-air bathing” in their own home. 

Featuring Pantone shades, this bathroom is designed by Rafaelle Velasque 

Inspiring Bathroom and ceiling by Future Nordic Home 

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North Carolina explores Hyperloop One system to connect the Triangle

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North Carolina may be a future destination for a Hyperloop One transit system. The company and several transit partners are exploring a hyperloop that could link Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the RDU International Airport, near the Research Triangle Park. A pre-feasibility study suggested that traveling between Raleigh and Durham or Chapel Hill (a distance of around 30 miles) could take less than ten minutes, while hyperloop corridors in the region may ease traffic.

"North Carolina Research Triangle — home to some of the country’s top companies, universities and healthcare centers — is an absolute prime location to examine hyperloop technology," said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder. Other several possible benefits highlighted include reliable travel times, improved road safety, a direct link to the airport and better logistics for cargo shipments. The hyperloop corridors could also be linked to the existing rail network and a proposed regional bus rapid transit system for the Research Triangle area.

Durham and Orange counties previously considered a 17.7-mile light rail line that would have linked Durham, Chapel Hill, three universities (including Duke) and a trio of major medical facilities. However, the GoTriangle project was shelved in April. A hyperloop network might prove a more viable intercity transit system for the region.

Hyperloop One is working on projects in a number of other locales, including Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Dubai and India. To date, it has held hundreds of test runs at its at-scale test track outside Las Vegas as it continues to refine its hyperloop technology.

Source: Hyperloop One

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NASA fights to keep the Voyager probes running after four decades

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NASA’s Voyager probes are still out there, exploring interstellar space 42 years after they left our planet. To keep them running all these years with generators that are 40 percent less powerful than they were decades ago — and which are producing less and less energy over time — the agency had to sacrifice some of their parts and components. In fact, the mission managers have recently switched off the heater for Voyager 2’s cosmic ray subsystem instrument (CRS) as part of their new power management plan.

The probe’s cosmic ray system played a key role in confirming that Voyager 2 left the heliosphere in November, and it remains useful to this day. Since it was designed to detect fast moving particles both from the sun and from sources outside our solar system, it continued sending back data even after it entered interstellar space.

That’s why the managers held extensive discussions with the science team before deciding to switch off the instrument’s heater, which is necessary to keep it from freezing. In the end, everybody decided that it’s the component to sacrifice at this point in time, because the CRS can only look in certain fixed directions. Thankfully, that didn’t spell instant death for the cosmic ray instrument. The team has confirmed that it’s been sending back data even after its temperature dropped to minus 74 degrees Fahrenheit and even though it was tested at temperatures dropping only to minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit decades ago.

Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd said it’s "incredible that Voyagers’ instruments have proved so hardy." She added: "We’re proud they’ve withstood the test of time. The long lifetimes of the spacecraft mean we’re dealing with scenarios we never thought we’d encounter. We will continue to explore every option we have in order to keep the Voyagers doing the best science possible."

As another example of the probes’ need to adapt to circumstances to keep going, Voyager 2 has fired up its correction maneuver thrusters on July 8th, 30 years after it was last fired. Its attitude control thrusters are old and haven’t been working as well, requiring the probe to fire an increasing number of pulses to make sure its antenna keeps pointed at our planet. Now, the spacecraft has switched thrusters like the Voyager 1 did in 2018, and will be using them to correct its orientation.

Source: JPL

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