How do We Know the Distance to the Moon? To the Planets?

Today in History, January 10, 1946:

ÔÇťOperation Diana”.

The US Army Signal Corps, using a “bedspring antenna” radar from a World War II era US Navy ship, somewhat modified, bounces a signal off of the moon, which took 2.5 seconds to return to the Earth.

The experiment was the precursor to using Radar to determine the distance to other bodies, such as Saturn, and for learning to communicate with later spacecraft outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

Diana was the Roman Moon Goddess, and this project would take the lead in naming later space projects after Roman Gods.

Naval Satellite Communication

Today in History, January 28: 1960 – US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke uses the first satellite communications system, developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, to send a secure radio message from Washington DC the Commander of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. The satellite? The moon.

A system had been developed to bounce high frequency radio waves off of the moon, creating a stable world wide communications system for the Navy. It would be used until the late sixties when man made satellites were in place.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Today in History, July 20: 1969 – The day the Earth stood still. Over a billion people world wide stopped what they were doing to watch in awe as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. It had been a decade long odyssey, begun with JFK’s comments that it should be done before the end of the 60’s decade. So much has been gained from America’s space exploration. I was a seven year old boy laying in the living room floor, allowed to stay up late and watch this happen on our black and white TV. First “The Eagle has landed”, then….