The following is a bit created by a man reminiscing of his childhood days in the 1960s. A space race with the Soviet Union was taking place. As the leader of the free world, the United States put forth a full-force effort to win. In doing so, it brought the best in science and technology that the country could muster, and what a show that was. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave the country a mandate to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely to earth by the end of the decade. We did that. There are countless videos of the Apollo Program on youtube, and I've picked out three here for you to enjoy. Why, may you ask, am I concentrating on this subject in an environmental science course? Imagine this scenario: What if the the President of the United States made a speech to a joint session of Congress in which he says, "Before the decade is out, the United States will become totally energy independent, and no one will have us over a barrel of oil again." I know we could do it. The Apollo Program shows that the seemingly impossible can be attained in a very short period of time. Let's set ourselves these kind of goals to ensure a healthy environment.
1. Dr. Werner von Braun was a German rocket scientist who was brought to the United States after World War II. Dr. von Braun had all the human qualities to win a space race. He had the brains, the persona, and the leadership skills to put it all together. The success of his creation, the Saturn V rocket, could not be duplicated by anybody else in the world. He did most of his work in Huntsville, Alabama, and there is a museum there for all to see. I'll have to check it out soon. I feel sorry for him when the Apollo Program was coming to a close. He was clearly very dejected that the desire to continue the adventure into space waned, and the leaders of the country in the early 1970s pretty much sent him home without any mandate for the future. Almost 40 years too late, the slow learners are realizing that a terrible mistake was made in stopping the momentum of the space program. It will take a big deal to get it going again because we are too poor and too dumb at this time. I'm not saying that; an official governmental report said that. In this video, watch Dr. von Braun tell us to get our dancing slippers back on and stay with it. The value of pushing our science and technology to the limit is much greater than the investment. The wise know that.
2. This video is from a documentary about Apollo 8. Apollo 8, in 1968, was the first time that humans left the earth to orbit another planetary body, which in this case was the moon. Can you imagine being an astronaut leaving for the moon for the first time, and the mathematicians telling you that they think they've got the math right, and, if they don't, you won't be coming back? Yes, we had heroes back then. I remember clearly Christmas Eve 1968 listening to the astronauts as man orbited the moon for the first time. It was one of the most powerful memories in my life. Here's Apollo 8:
3.a. It was always suspenseful for me when the astronauts got ready to leave the moon. Namely, I was concerned that the liftoff rocket would not fire, but 6 successful Apollo landing missions showed an amazing reliability. In this video, you will see the last human visitors to the moon take off. The view brings sadness to me because it reminds me that we lost the momentum for learning from adventure; therefore, we opened ourselves up to decay. The video below is from Apollo 17--the last manned mission to the moon. Watching the lunar module take off is like watching a 1950s science fiction movie, but, in this case, it's real:
3.b. If you want to ride up with the astronauts of Apollo 15 as they lift off from the moon, you might like this video although you may not want to ride all the way back up with them to the command module because you may be tempted to say, "Are we there yet?"
3.c. Oh yes, the lunar rover worked just fine. This video is from the Apollo 16 mission in April 1972. Can you believe we were so smart and cool? What happened?
4. This video is from the launch of Apollo 11 on 16 July 1969. The film is made more dramatic by adding a little slow motion to the takeoff. It really doesn't need much help for the sake of drama. The power generated by the Saturn V rocket is equal to the power generated by 85 Hoover Dams. It is the biggest operational machine ever built. Apparently, the Soviets had no hope of getting a man to the moon and back again because they couldn't make a rocket operational and reliable as the Saturn V, and believe me, they tried. The Saturn V never failed the several times it was used between 1968 and 1973. Enjoy watching the power and majesty of this rocket as it takes the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. You can be sure that I was in front of the TV when it took off.