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HAL takes guests to space

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Tue, Feb 11th 2020 12:35 pm

The Historical Association of Lewiston’s next program, “The Road to the Moon Went Through Western New York,” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah Fellowship Hall, 915 Oneida St.

Walter Gordon is the guest speaker.

Did you know that virtually every phase of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, from liftoff of the 6-million-pound, 360-foot-tall Saturn V from the Kennedy Space Center, to the instant when the Lunar Module Eagle firmly docked with Apollo 11 Columbia, was made possible by contributions by men and women from Western New York?

The Apollo program was made possible by many contractors and government agencies throughout the U.S. There were significant concentrations of effort in many regions, one of which was Western New York – between Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester.

Steering of all three stages of the Saturn V was provided by Moog thrust vector actuation. Contributions by Bell Aerosystems were especially notable, from the lunar landing training vehicle that gave the astronauts the training required to land on the moon to the lunar module ascent engine that returned them to orbit afterward.

The ascent engine was one of the most critical items in the entire Apollo stack as it had to work – there was no backup. Once back in lunar orbit, the astronauts knew they could rendezvous and dock with the command module, because it was proven during Project Gemini with the Gemini Agena target vehicle powered by Bell primary and secondary propulsion systems.

Gordon has a B.S. and M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University at Buffalo and a M.S. in strategic studies from the USAF Air War College. He has worked as an engineer in Western New York since 1979 at four companies: Falcon Research and Development, Sierra Research, Calspan and currently as the defense market manager in the space sector of the Moog Space and Defense Group.

Gordon retired in 2014 from a 30-year career in the Air Force Reserve as a C-130 pilot. He served as a flying squadron commander, wing inspection general and wing commander, and is a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He is also a past president of the Niagara Aerospace Museum.  

This community event is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served.

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