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Apollo 11 anniversary tomorrow..., Wanna share memories..?
Stu
post Jul 19 2007, 08:03 PM
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( Hope people won't mind me being a bit flowery here, I've been writing this up on my blog and it set me thinking... I hope it'll at least inspire a few of the more senior members to share their memories with us young 'uns...! )

On July 20th 1969 the lunar module "Eagle" landed in the Sea of Tranquility, that's 38 years ago tomorrow, which means it's almost 40 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, established "Tranquility Base", and changed the history and destiny of Mankind forever by leaving the pressurised safety of their lunar module and stepping out into the airless void of a lunar day, to stand on the cratered, dusty Moon at the triumphant climax of the Apollo 11 mission.

Oh yes, I remember it well...

Actually, I'm not sure I do. And it's really, really bugging me.

I was born in 1965, which means I would have been the grand old age of 4 1/2 on the day Eagle landed. Old enough to watch the TV coverage, certainly, but to actually remember it? Hmmm. Over the years I've always told people that one of my earliest memories is of watching "the Moon landing", I suppose as some kind of proof that I've been "into" this space stuff all my life, but now I can't help wondering if I've just seen the TV footage so many times, in films and on TV history programs, and on space DVDs and videos that I've just convinced myself I saw it "live" when really I was tucked up in bed, fast asleep, as any sane 4.5 yr old terran child would have been. I asked my mum if I saw it, and she can't remember; she confirmed that yes, I was a space cadet even then, but she's not sure if I saw it live or if I saw it on a TV news programme later in the day, which doesn't really help...

I wish I knew if I saw the landing live, or not. But what can I do? I guess it's just one of those things that's going to bug the hell out of me forever.

But my lack of 100% certainty about seeing the landing live doesn't change the fact that tomorrow is the anniversary of one of history's most incredible events, an event which has been hailed many times as a turning or defining point in human history. And rightly so. When Armstrong stepped off Eagle's landing leg pad, swung his leg over the side and planted his boot into the grey lunar dust That Was It. No longer were we a one planet species, we'd travelled to the Moon - the Moon! - and walked on it. On that night, people were able to look up at theMoon shining in the sky and for the First Time Ever see it as a place where people had been, for real. The Moon wasn't just a mottled, round lantern in the sky any more, but a real place, a world, ripe for exploration and exploitation. I've watched the documentaries and films so I know what the mood was like back then: we - people, men and women, Mankind - thought we could do anything. If we could conquer the Moon, well, Mars was next, and by the time people had conquered Mars "normal people" would be holidaying in space, walking on the Moon themselves, living in huge ring-shaped space stations, wearing silver space clothing and eating whole meals in a single pill!

Of course, it didn't quite turn out that way. After reaching the Moon half a dozen times we fled home again, tail between our legs, and hid from the universe. It was as if the first cave dwellers had staggered to the cave mouth, looked outside, seen the sunlit lands beyond and thought "Naah, can't be bothered..." and shuffled back inside into the damp and the shadows again.

As Tasmin Archer sang in her wonderful song "Sleeping Satellite"...

Did we fly to the moon too soon?

Did we squander the chance?

In the rush of the race

in the reason we chase is lost in romance

and still we try

to justify the waste

for a taste of mans greatest adventure.


But that's a rather unkind view, and certainly Man's Retreat From The Moon wasn't the fault of the brave Apollo astronauts who rode those mighty Saturn 5's into space and clung onto them, like dragon riders, as they thundered to the Moon. Their achievements can't be downplayed or underestimated. Their heroism and bravery can't be dismissed, however un-PC it might to have those traits now. For a brief, golden time, a shining Camelot time, the world really was united in one common noble goal - to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth again. And when Armstrong stepped off the lunar module's foot, 38 years ago tomorrow, and spoke those immortal words... "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind"... he truly was the first Ambassador from the troubled, troublesome Earth.

But I don't know if I saw it on my family TV as it happened, or later, once I woke, once Armstrong and Aldrin were safely back inside the LEM, once the world had turned on its axis some ways, and after History had moved already on.

If you were lucky enough to see the Moon landing live, and remember it clearly well, I envy you, I really do. What an amazing thing that must have been, to sit watching a flickering TV screen as thefirst human being to set foot on another world hopped down a ladder and stepped out onto the dust and into the infinity of the future. If you're not old enough to remember it, but want to know what it was like, then I urge you to watch the start of the amazing film "Apollo 13"... or the DVD box set of "FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON" - no, not just the "Apollo 11" episode but the whole series, because every moment of that HBO special is magnificent in countless ways, watching it is like travelling back in time, trust me. Or you could go to the library and hire one of the NASA DVDs or videos from its reference section, and watch the TV footage that way. If you live near an IMAX cinema, and if it's showing, go see "DESTINATION: MOON" the 3D film created to recreate the Apollo landings. I watched it with tears streaming down my face, it moved, and inspired and enraged me so much all at the same time. Whatever you do, just find a way to live - or re-live - those amazing, titanic moments as best you can. You won't be sorry.

I have grown up believing I watched the Moon landing live, picturing myself as a 4 and a half year old sitting in his warm pyjamas in front of the big 1969 TV set, yawning, fighting to stay awake, desperate to See It... but I don't know if I did. Now, sitting here, I wonder if, after all the years of expectation, I'll actually live long enough to see the first man or woman set foot on Mars. I've always thought I would, but I'm 42 now, and with the first manned mission to Mars no nearer than 2030 that means I'll be 65 on Landing Day... possible, but not guaranteed. I might miss it, I really might. That would be heartbreaking.

Many kids I talk to in schools today during my Outreach work don't believe it actually happened, they have fallen for the "We never went to the Moon" conspiracy theories, which is heartbreaking in a different way entirely. Other kids simply think of the Moon landings as some faraway historical event, as relevent to their iPod and Myspace generation as the Battle of Hastings or the signing of the Magna Carta. Which is a great, great shame.

... but none of that self-indulgent whining changes the fact that 38 years ago tomorrow human beings walked on the surface of another world for the very first time. So, rejoice in that, remember it if you can, and if you can't then look up at the Moon on the next clear night and think how amazing, how incredible it is that once, a long time ago, people from Earth stood on the Moon and looked back.

ohmy.gif smile.gif


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ElkGroveDan
post Jul 19 2007, 08:14 PM
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I was 8 years old, living in the North American East Coast time zone. As I recall the landing was in the afternoon, and the actual walk was going to be in the middle of the night. I vividly remember the landing, but drifted off to sleep during the seemingly endless wait for the walk on the lunar surface to take place.

It was a great time to be a kid. I can recall throughout the whole Apollo program having TVs wheeled in the classrooms during school hours for various launches and other events. I used to be able to draw the entire Saturn five and all of its components and stages and even make notations of the thrust of each stage and burn durations.


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climber
post Jul 19 2007, 09:10 PM
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...and my 2nd grandchild was born today smile.gif


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climber
post Jul 19 2007, 09:39 PM
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Now let me try my own.
When it happened I envyied so much the astronauts that I thought : "I'm may be not the first on the Moon but I still can be one day the last living man to have watched it LIVE"...I'm kind of optimistic, don't you think?
Everything REALY started with the launch of Apollo 8 for me : I sew it live from home. I was nearly 15. I started then to read, read & read so I was preapared for Apollo 11 which I still remember very well. I sew the launch and all the steps up to the moon. Then, it was around 7-8 pm in France, I listened the landing on TV since NO live images were taken...and then, it was a veeeeeeeeeery long wait since we didn't know for sure when they will set foot upon the Moon. My parents went to bed and I promised to my brother to wake him up. They were changing time all the time but I didn't slept! I went outside, back in front of the TV, listen radio, back outside, etc, etc. THEN IT WAS TIME. I waked up my brother who sat before the TV but didn't sew that much, falling asleep all the time.
Then finaly, here HE was! Just impossible to understand what I was watching because nobody was peapared to see what we were seing. When I see the images now, they seams to have been re-processed as compared to my memories.
We had commentaries in French so, I more or less understood what was going on. The 2 + hours they staid there were VEEERY long since it was 4 to 6 in the morning not having slept at all. I remember having to go outside, walk... to avoid falling asleep. I sew it ALL.
Then, when they came back to the Eagle, I went to bed exhausted but with dreams in my mind. I realy realized LIVE that it was one of the greatest moment of Humanity but it's always when the action fade up that you REALY understand what it has been.
I understand now, that here, in UMSF, there are not so many of us that can clearly remember this, that can talk about what they realy felt at this moment been confident that the memories has staid close to the reality and has not changed to much. What I can say is : I never watched the whole thing again since. Not yet.
Cheers my friends


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David
post Jul 20 2007, 12:07 AM
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Since this is UMSF, I feel obliged to mention that... the robots got there first! laugh.gif

On February 3, 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 made the first successful soft landing on the Moon -- indeed, the first on any Solar System object other than the Earth -- making it the forerunner not just of the manned Moon landers but of all subsequent planetary landers, including Venera, Viking, Pathfinder, Huygens and our very own MERs. It was also the first probe to send back surface pictures from another world.

Luna 9 was followed on April 30 by the American probe Surveyor 1; then came Luna 13 and Surveyors 3, 5, 6 and 7, all before the Eagle landed on the Moon.
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dvandorn
post Jul 20 2007, 05:17 AM
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I not only remember, very clearly (I was 13.5 y.o. at the time) the first manned lunar landing, I can remember Ranger IX's death plunge into the Moon. The image output from one of the cameras was played out to the TV networks (and hence the very first use of the subtitle "Live from the Moon" on any television broadcast).

biggrin.gif

-the other Doug


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Bill Harris
post Jul 20 2007, 05:54 AM
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July, 1969 I was a sophomore in college, taking some of the liberal-arts non-science to get them out of the way. We had a brand-new dormatory, "New Men's Dorm" and it had a nice TV lounge in the basement floor. Decently large TV, although I don't recall if it was B&W or color. I, and perhaps a dozen other students, remained glued to the TV for the approach, landing and EVA. And was mesmerized by Cronkite and Jules Bergman.

--Bill


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edstrick
post Jul 20 2007, 06:29 AM
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"...Soviet probe Luna 9 made the first successful soft landing on the Moon ..."

From the pedantic nit-picking department.. Luna 9 made a successful hard landing.... THUD!.....bounce... roll.... Surveyor 1 made a truely soft landing. But what counted was Luna 9 survived and sent back pics.

For Apollo 11, I had the old (1956) family Pentron reel-to-reel tape recorder hooked up with alligator clips to the TV's (Color... we got our first one in time for Apollo 8) and recorded selected large chunks of audio, critical mission events nonstop, mostly from CBS with Walter Cronkite. Dad's old Leica 3c was on a tripod with 35mm agfacrhrome slide film in it. The Pentron died during the mission and I was able to substitute my brother's AIWA briefcase-shaped portable reel-to-reel to continue recording. I've still got the tapes and slides.

My Dad's dad.. his parents were living with us watched with us.. he was 90 at the time. Definately boggled at the event.

Mom and Dad were in Scotland, doing their "GREAT EUROPEAN VACATION" of a lifetime. When the pub owner learned that dad was the manager of a department in a rocket division of Bell Aerospace and had worked on Apollo, he had drinks on the house.. AT A SCOTTISH PUB!.
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Tesheiner
post Jul 20 2007, 06:36 AM
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I have quite similar memories as you Stu 'cause I was born on 1965 too. smile.gif
Old enough to remember seeing the moon launches / landings on TV, too young to realize the real impact of what I was seeing
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monty python
post Jul 20 2007, 06:37 AM
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I was 11 years old living near Chicago. My family huddled around a black and white tv, watching Walter Chronkite (who else) and I believe Wally Shirra do comentary. I was scared listening to the static filled com watching the animation of decent with a countdown clock below. This got worse when the clock reached zero and the animated LEM landed but Armstrong was still flying over a boulder field looking for a place to put down. Then they landed and Chronkite lost it- tears welling up. I tried to hide it but I did the same. I took some Polaroid pictures of the screen (fading now) which I still cherish.

If anyone doubts that the thing actually happened, go visit all the many remarkable (remaining) facilities built for the project, and skim the voluminous and detailed nasa tech journals in library repositories. If they didn't do it they spent enough money and did enough research to actually have done it!

Thank you very much for this thread.
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djellison
post Jul 20 2007, 07:02 AM
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Two idiotically childish posts have been removed from this thread. They know who they are. If you want to have a pathetic argument - do it somewhere else.

Doug
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Harkeppler
post Jul 20 2007, 07:52 AM
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Besides the grand task of landing on the moon, the construction, static tests of the huge Saturn V and the first flights (with some problems, but without one carrier lost) were performed unbelievable fast - compared to minor tasks today. The whole calculation was done with some huge electronic calculators (each desktop pc has more abilities today) and slide rulers.

Administration was around one tenth of the overall personal at that time.

That could be compared to some manned spaceflight project like the European Hermes and Sänger of the 80ies and 90ies.

Today, a large administration pile-ups seem to be necessary without a lot of manned flights.

At Cape Kennedy there was a traffic light installed for platform 39A, B and C (the last one was never completed) giving advices if there was fueling in process or launch scheduled.

I think this was the one and only traffic light in spaceflight. It looked very funny.

Harkeppler
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AndyG
post Jul 20 2007, 08:22 AM
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Hi Stu!

The moonwalk started at about 4am, UK summertime. I know that I, aged six-and-a-half, didn't see that: but I do recall my Dad bounding up the stairs and into my room (naturally decked with Apollo 8 photos and an Airfix Saturn V) to tell me that the landing was a success - I must have fallen asleep during the deorbit part of the mission and been packed off to bed. Landing was at 9.17 UK summertime.

38 years ago. Half Armstrong's life away. Crikey.

Andy
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DDAVIS
post Jul 20 2007, 11:45 AM
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In what will hopefully be the start of a wide update of my site, I have added my yearly commentary on Apollo 11, what it meant, and what may happen.

http://www.donaldedavis.com/PARTS/Apollo30.html

-Don
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MahFL
post Jul 20 2007, 04:12 PM
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I was 6 1/2, I would have normally been in bed by 7:30 pm at that age, I stayed awake for both the landing and Armstrongs walk on the moon. It was as others mentioned really late at night in the UK.
My father in law worked on the Saturn V main engines, and on the SSME too, at the Stennis Space Center.

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