Stymied by a strike, getting to the moon needs funding

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 26, 2020

I noticed the passing of Fred Sammons, who was the son of Forest Sammons.

This reminded me of a story about his father, who was in the construction business and, therefore, had a lot of heavy earthmoving equipment. He was also frequently had Howard Mayes Jr. fly him to construction sites. It was in the 1930s and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) employees were excavating a base for the paved runway, which American Airways required to continue air service here.

The WPA was using shovels and wheel barrows. It was slow work.

Email newsletter signup

Forest was needing to use the airport to fly out on business and had the bright idea to speed up the construction by using his heavy equipment to make short work of excavating the base.

The guys working in the WPA didn’t like that because it was taking their jobs. As was usual on a work grievance, they went on strike. So Forest had to be patient while they finished the runway foundation.
Incidentally, they placed rocks by hand in the foundation, which were quarried from the hill north of the road at that time.

Aviation Today reports that Hydrogen Universal is developing an electric-powered plane which will use a hydrogen powered fuel cell to generate the electric power.

The only way to supply a large quantity of hydrogen in the present day is to crack methane or some other hydrocarbon. They will still be using fossil fuels.

Hydrogen can be generated by electrolysis of water and that takes power too, which, at this time is mostly generated from fossil fuels. Also, one pound of liquid hydrogen occupies 1.7 gallons while one pound of gasoline is 0.2 gallon. At this time in our present state of technology, hydrogen for fuel is not practical.

The Artemis moon landing program which has a goal of putting a man and a woman on the moon in 2024 is in jeopardy if the Congress doesn’t raise their appropriation bill that has been passed in the U.S. House of Representative.

The funding is $600 million and NASA has asked for $3.2 billion, 5.3 times what is now in the appropriation bill. If we cannot stick to the original plan for a moon landing in 2024, China will be on the moon first.

As someone told me, they don’t have to go through a Congressional body, the head man just says do this and it is funded.

NASA plans to launch an un-crewed Orion space craft in 2021 and then, in 2023, launch a crewed spacecraft to do a lunar fly-by. The plan is to land the crewed spacecraft in 2024 at the South Pole of the moon.

The hope is that they will be able to find resources to assist in the launching of a space craft from the moon to Mars. For example, they will be looking for water that they can use with electrolysis to generate hydrogen and oxygen from either nuclear-powered generation or solar powered energy.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at