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Advanced technology at NASA


Visiting NASA Mission Control Center, Houston
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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Because I was one of the principal investigators appointed by NASA to study the lunar rocks, I was obtaining samples from each of the missions and also from the Russian missions, as I’ve already mentioned, and because of that, in a sense, privileged status, I was able to go to Houston, which was the main control center for the Apollo space missions, and to see their space records because I wanted some thin sections and geological sections and descriptions of the rocks that we were looking at, and so forth.

So on one occasion – which had nothing to do with Michigan of course – I went down. Actually it was a... I was in America on this occasion for another Gordon Conference, which I won’t mention, but as part of that trip I went down to Houston in the days before Apollo 15 was launched, and I’ll in a moment get back to Apollo 15. But in Houston, I went to the Space Center. Quite extraordinary – all the experimental facilities they had and the training facilities. They have become familiar by being seen on television programmes, of course, and I’d been looking avidly at television programmes about these things. But it is different – as you appreciate – actually being there, seeing the facilities, seeing the training, seeing the way the apparatus was done, the special laboratories that they had for screening to before it came into general distribution.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: NASA, Houston, USSR, Apollo 15, Fordon Research Conference

Duration: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011