Monday, July 20, 2009

40 Years Ago Today!

It's July 20th 1969.. It's also ten days before my ninth birthday. I am sitting on the aqua-marine contoured carpeting in my grandparents house at 9999 Plainview on the west side of Detroit. My eyes along with all of my family and several neighbors are glued to the new color RCA 25 inch television which was purchased by my Grandfather just for this moment. Its the only one on the entire block and you can tell from his pride that he is only to happy to allow anyone and everyone come see this historical moment in his living room. Just a couple hours earlier we watched as the Lunar module called Eagle landed on the surface of the moon just seconds away from running out of fuel. In that moment know one watch on Earth breathed normal.. so it wast just Huston that was about to turn blue in anticipation.

The mission had started on July 16th 1969... with the launch of the mighty Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo 11 crew on it way to the moon. At 363 feet in height and when fully fueled weighed 265600 pounds or 3,038,500 kg! It continues to be the largest booster ever created and successfully launched repeatedly and it is said that the sound coming from its engines could be heard for miles. 13 Saturn V launches occurred from 1967 to 1973 (one to launch the Skylab Space Station) at a cost of 6.5 billion dollars! Today the same feat would cost over 40 billion!

Putting a man on the moon was a staggering technical and political feat that has since never been accomplished again. The culmination of the space race with communist Soviet Union.. a bid for technical supremacy, and a political win for the free market democratic system of living? It was all those things... but it was also the final frontier... There was no place on Earth left untouched by man and it is in human nature to explore things that are unknown. We had stepped off the planet with the first few tentative steps towards the rest of the solar system and unknown universe!

For a couple of hours Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the airless barren lunar surface..setting up experiments, collecting rock and soil samples and like every explorer before them placing a flag on the surface to mark the achievement, the American flag. While it was the accomplishment of America and over 300,000 of its workers... it was clear that this was more of a human moment and on that day almost two billion inhabitants of the Earth watched and listened to the event.

The Earth is over 240,000 miles away and the astronauts are relying on relatively fragile space craft to preserve them for the week they were away from home. This was at best a 50/50 endeavor in craft with thousands of working parts all of which had to work together or face disaster and the possibility of death (Indeed illustrated by Apollo 13 who's landing was scrubbed by the failure of a .75 cent part)

If Apollo taught us anything, it was that the Earth we live on is a fragile self contained space craft itself.. with finite supplies and ecosystem... What is clear is that we must rebuild our efforts to leave Earth for other planets and resources so that we can continue as a race..the human race.

It is somewhat sad that there are those who claim that the moon landings never happened. That it was a staged event for the entire world and perhaps the largest conspiracy of all time. This image of the Apollo 11 landing site and the decent stage left untouched for over 40 years taken this past Friday by a new lunar surveyor satellite currently looking for gas and water resources for a new lunar base. to those non-believers... It happened... let it go!

Note: All images supplied by NASA.

1 comment:

Gummi Bare said...

have them go back and then put the video on youtube.