NASA archive footage shows astronauts falling over in lunar gravity
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" were the first words uttered on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. But maybe they should've been "That's one small tumble for man, one giant leap for mankind."
NASA released archived footage in honour of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first moon landing, and it's just hilarious. The videos show astronauts in their heavy space suits clumsily falling over themselves as they adjust to how their body moves differently in space.
Watch the footage here:
The moon's gravity is one-sixth that of Earth's. Because of this, astronauts weigh less on the moon. But their mass stays the same, which means their inertia - how quickly they can change direction - is also the same. Scientific jargon aside, astronauts move the same way on the moon, but feel lighter.
Still not getting it? Basically, there's lots of falling.
While it's funny to watch, NASA used this footage for the serious matter of studying space. For Apollo 15, they studied how astronauts' metabolism rates changed with different moon terrains. The Apollo 16 videos helped them to compare dexterity and locomotion on the moon compared to on Earth.
But even though the film was used for official documentation, that doesn't make it any less funny. An official description of Commander David Scott's trip on Apollo 15 reads:
"[David] begins moving toward a new area as he gives the camera reading and summarises the description of the area. He steps around a group of rock fragments and then his right foot steps into a small depression and he begins to lose his balance. As he steps with his left foot, it slides off a small rock and continues sliding on the loose surface soil.
"While trying to drive his feet back under his centre of gravity, Scott increases his forward velocity. He then falls forward with both hands extended to break the fall. Landing on his left side, he rolls counterclockwise and on his back and is then out of view of the TV camera."
How embarrassing to have all your tumbles and spills permanently documented. Talk about getting your footing.