Last night, as a supreme example, Jimmy gave Mike two whole hours to promote himself as an expert on the "Secret Space Program" -- not by coincidence the subject of his forthcoming book. He said there are actually three American space programs, one public and two secret. Launches, he told us, take place from pads deep in the wild country of Utah where nobody notices. I'm willing, I suppose, to imagine somewhere so remote that a launch would go unnoticed, but how about the heavy traffic to and fro? Does Bara think the people of Utah are such rubes that they wouldn't wonder why oversize loads were regularly traversing their back-roads? Which direction do they launch in? East, over Colorado, or South over Arizona? Range safety must be an absolute nightmare. Also, how do they conceal this spaceport from all those enthusiasts who spend their nights scrutinizing Google Earth looking for oddities?
No gravity in Earth orbit
It wasn't too long before Mike was laying on us some of his major misunderstandings about spaceflight. "In orbit there's very little gravity," he said. He just cannot seem to get it into his head that gravity is exactly what maintains an orbit. He has this totally incorrect mental picture of gravity pretty much switching off as soon as you leave the Earth's surface. Then we got his equally incorrect account of the early days of the US space effort. Here's the fortune cookie version: Von Braun was puzzled because Explorer 1 went 33% higher than planned (he claimed 60% in his book The Choice.) Then Von Braun realized that it was because the upper stages were rotating, and rotation sucks in hyperdimensional energy from the 6th dimension. So Von Braun adjusted for that by sneaking an extra term into the rocket equation without anybody noticing. Got that? Well, not a word of it is truenote 1. This blog has given a correct version of this slice of space history more than once, but since Jimmy Church doesn't read this blog he didn't know enough to call Bara on it.
Well over an hour into the interview, Bara went off into fantasy-land. It went like this:
72:17 JC "Now what's the third version of the Secret Space Program"?
MB: "Well, to me, um, it's NASA. Because you've got this program that was started by the intelligence agencies, where they invited people like T. Townsend Brown to come and give them presentations on how to develop anti-gravity aircraft and spacecraft. And they said "Thanks very much" and all of a sudden anti-gravity disappears from the official scientific literature of the day. Then you've got the program that I think Kennedy started, and then I think really you have NASA, which is not really a secret space program but it's secret in the sense that it really is a public space program but it had nefarious aims and there was a lot of -- again, to use the word -- shenanigans going on at NASA, the Apollo Program ... I think that really the third program was the NASA stuff, which was actually basically a salvage program. It was designed to go and salvage Anunnaki technology from the Moon and bring it back here for reverse engineering.
76:05 JC "What was the technology that they were after? Are you saying... when you say Anunnaki, are you... do you have specific evidence or something that points towards an ancient.. you know, Moonbase that was there and we went and exploited it?
MB: "Well, yeah. We've talked about different things on this show before -- about the ziggurat on the back side of the Moon, things like that. But I think that...um, even, you know, deeper that that, I think to me the biggest most obvious artifact in all this is what Hoagy called Data's Head on the Moon, which is this human-looking head which is clearly not a skull though, it's some sort of robot, a machine, that is in Shorty crater on Apollo 17. There's a lot of other stuff in these images of Shorty crater that appears to be mechanical debris, and it's like the arm from Terminator, you know, if you bring back the arm from the Terminator and start working on it and reverse engineering it, then you're eventually going to get some ideas and figure some things out, and you're going to develop, you know, super-secret technologies from that.
Again, this is familiar territory to regular readers of this blog. For newbies, here's a link to the main picture of Shorty crater. Can you find the robot head? Do you think they could have descended into the crater and picked it up, even though no such descent was in the plan? Even though they were being reminded that they were behind schedule? Do you see a lot of other "mechanical debris"?
I have a new question about this fantasy, too. Much earlier in the interview, Bara stated quite flatly that President Kennedy knew there was advanced alien technology on the Moon, and that was the true motive of Apollo. In which case, why did it take six separate missions to go and fetch it?
 Longish notes for anyone who really wants to get into this subject.
Von Braun was puzzled: Explorer 1 went into a 223 x 1592 mi orbit, cf. the planned 220 x 1000 mi. So it is literally true to say that its maximum altitude was ~160% of nominal, as measured from the surface of the Earth. However, that is not how the energy of an orbit is measured. The correct measure is the semi-major axis, which takes into account not only the apogee but the perigee and the diameter of planet Earth. By this measure, the excess is just 6.5%. The actual velocity at orbit insertion was off by 2.46%.
So Von Braun would not have been puzzled at all -- to the contrary, the orbit was never expected to be precise because of the imprecision of the solid rocket fuels of the 1950s, and the fact that the Juno rocket had no guidance after first-stage burnout. The second stage was, in fact, a ring of 13 Baby Sergeant solid rockets -- and the whole point of the rotation was to even out unpredictable variations of their thrust. Mike Bara seems aware of that but he can't seem to stretch his mind to the idea that the non-nominal performance can easily be accounted for by known factors.
Rotation sucks in hyperdimensional energy from the 6th dimension: This codswallop is so unscientific it makes me want to scream. First of all, there's absolutely no credible evidence that rotating something draws energy into it. Bara cites two experiments -- the "Allais Effect" and Bruce DePalma's spinning balls -- but neither has been confirmed, the claimed effect is minuscule, and DePalma's result has a better explanation. And then, even supposing that could be shown to be true, adding energy to a rotating rocket could have many possible results. It might heat the thing up, or make it luminesce. Yes, it might accelerate it but equally likely DEcelerate it, or cause it to veer off course. In the special case of a rotating planet, Bara and Hoagland have repeatedly claimed that the result is an upwelling (typically of volcanic heat) at the 19.5° latitude. They want it both ways -- upwelling when it suits their daft ideas, acceleration when that seems to fit the requirements. It's hopelessly, irretrievably, wrong.
Von Braun adjusted for that by sneaking an extra term into the rocket equation without anybody noticing: Again, I scream. It's been 58 years since Explorer 1's triumphant orbit. Mike Bara is seriously expecting us to believe that two whole generations of rocketry engineers have been educated and come of age without noticing what was in their equations??? Bara once addressed this point, saying that nobody knows these days what the actual equations are, they're just algorithms in a computer. Engineers simply feed in their data and crank the handle.
If you believe that, you'd believe anything.