Men on the Moon, 40 years ago today.

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MysteriousVisitor

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Today, 40 years ago (EST), two men from Earth landed on the moon, spent two hours walking around, and left after less then a day. Looking back on it, it would seem to be a somewhat anticlimactic end to a scientific struggle that consumed two nations, cost billions of dollars, and killed thirteen of the best and brightest the superpowers had to offer.

To us, the landing on this day 40 years ago is a wikipedia article, a quote, and some fuzzy film (that some say was shot on a film stage in Area 51:dunno:). To them, from the two that landed to the guy emptying the trash can at OKB-1, it was their life. Planning for orbit, the moon, and beyond was a all consuming labor of nationalistic and scientific love.

The 60s and (to an extent) the 70s were the golden age of space exploration. Men speaking English and Russian took primitive, untested, seemingly fragile craft into the unknown that was Space. Seemingly unthinkable risks were taken to achieve goals that we, in this day and age, take for granted.

Like with many technical works, problems occurred. Sputnik, the catalyst for the moon race, was launched on only the 2nd successful launch of the R-7, with four previous attempts being spectacularly unsuccessful. Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, had to depressurize his spacesuit to dangerous levels to enable his return to Voskhod 2. Neil Armstrong, the famous, first moon walker, almost had a premature end to his space career when his Gemini 8 spacecraft entered an uncontrolled roll and had to be immediately deorbited.

Many were much more unlucky. Vladimir Komarov died when his landing parachute failed to deploy on reentry during Soyuz 1. Three American astronauts died testing Apollo 1. Thirteen American and Soviet spacemen died during space related activities during this golden age of space exploration.

Aside from the scientific advances made during this golden age, technical feats were also accomplished. The computer you are staring at and typing on this moment is a direct descendant of the Apollo Guidance Computer, the first real computer that could perform advanced calculations without having absurd power and space demands. Many of the things we use and depend on in daily life have their roots in the Moon Race.

As a scholar of the "Space Race", it saddens me to look upon the present state of space exploration. We have a shuttle designed and built with half the funding it needed and twice the requirements it could safely fulfill. We have one multinational space station that took over one hundred billion dollars and ten years to construct. We have no commercial stations, no moon bases, and no men on Mars. The promise and hope of a life beyond our planet came crashing down when short sighted politicians, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, decided that Space was not worth the investment.

Today is the day we celebrate this historic achievement. Today is the day we congratulate those who had the fortune to work on these projects and remember their sacrifices.

So here's to you, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Aldrin, and Mr. Collins.

And to you, Mr. Gagarin, for having the balls to ride that first trail of fire into the heavens.

And to you, Mr. Korolev, for having the fortitude to persevere and launch your dream when everything was against you.

And to you, Mr. Kennedy, who gave that short speech at Rice University that started the Age of Exploration.

And especially to you, Mr. Bondarenko, Mr. Freeman, Mr. See, Mr. Bassett, Mr. Grissom, Mr. Chaffee, Mr. Komarov, Mr. Williams, Mr. Dobrovolski, Mr. Volkov, and Mr. Patsayev, who gave everything to advance our knowlege beyond Earth.
 
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To us, the landing on this day 40 years ago is a wikipedia article, a quote, and some fuzzy film (that some say was shot on a film stage in Area 51:dunno:).
Ah, but there was a second, much clearer broadcast/archive to and in Australia.

This has been lost.

Conspiracy theorists, of course, say that this is PROOF of a cover-up, but here's the question: let's say that one of the stories you scribble in a notebook and later transcribe to manuscript form becomes a best-seller. After 5 years, could you source the original notebook? After 10? 40?

The first walk on the moon and surrounding missions were not envisioned as the last, I would imagine.
 
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Ok, I'm gonna put a stop to all this moon conspiracy talk that I know is gonna get started... The Mythbusters already debunked many of the moon myth "evidence". Also, IF it was a hoax, why didn't the Soviets claim that it was at the time. Surely they had the equipment to tell whether or not we had actually landed on the moon. And the equipment was obviously real, otherwise they couldn't have done the Apollo/Soyuz missions.

Regardless, it truly was an achievment for all mankind. The Apollo project brought us so many wonderful inovations (the digital computer, among other things) that its ramifications were felt not only in the context of a contest between superpowers but in the everyday lives of the people of Earth. In those days, the Space Race drove innovation; today, it seems, that Lockheed Martin, et al, drives innovation. I don't rightly know if another Apollo Project would have the same impact on the world.

"We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard"
Why don't people say things like this anymore?
 

Darkfinn

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For hundreds of years Man thought the moon was made of cheese.

In the 1960's, man journeyed to the moon and found that it is just a lump of rock and dirt.

We haven't been back since.

:D
 

Charlie

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Pretty cool.
Although it feels a bit sad in a way, looking up at the moon and knowing that we've been there, when for so long before the moon would have been the unattainable mysterious thing.

Armstrong must be really kicking himself for messing up the "one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" line. :p
I guess that's proof it wasn't fake, otherwise it would have been followed with "Cut! Lines people, get 'em right!"
 
M

Maxx

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I was in 3rd grade I think when Alan Shepard went up, just graduated high school when Armstrong took his first step. It was unbelievably cool to watch that kind of history happen live on TV. For the Mercury launches, the nuns would drag TV's into the classroom.

IMHO, the book and movie "The Right Stuff" jives pretty well with my memory of how this stuff was at the time, for any of you curious youngsters.

FWIW, 40th anniversary of Woodstock is coming up pretty quick too.
 
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Armstrong must be really kicking himself for messing up the "one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" line. :p
I guess that's proof it wasn't fake, otherwise it would have been followed with "Cut! Lines people, get 'em right!"
Messing it up?

I was under the understanding that Armstrong actually said the line was as you quoted, including the (a), but the radio cut out the "a." I actually think it's a ton better without the "a," but I'm biased as this is how I've heard it. :twocents:

"We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard"
Why don't people say things like this anymore?
Because all the Statesmen have died or retired, and those left in their wake are but flimsy replicas controlled by a string of currency and power.

Or maybe it's more that people have become so demanding to only hear what they want that we've backed off doing things that are hard in the public forum.

Or maybe it's because education (specifically in this country) is now so poor that the best argument that can be understood is "WE. MUST. DO. THIS."
 

Darkfinn

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Actually it wasn't that small of a step for Armstrong... he had to jump like 3 feet from the bottom of the ladder because the landing was so soft the shock towers had not compressed all the way.
 
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LittleMonster

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For hundreds of years Man thought the moon was made of cheese.

In the 1960's, man journeyed to the moon and found that it is just a lump of rock and dirt.

We haven't been back since.

:D

If it had been cheese, you can bet that we'd already have commercial flights to the Moon. Or at least businesses harvesting moon cheese. >.>
 

doubledbbw

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I was 10 almost 11 living in Northeast North Carolina when we landed on the moon the first time. I remember my mother having us watch it and saying that this will be a very important moment in history. Boy was she right and I am glad we tuned in on our little B/W TV.:smile:
 

Hex

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[font="Calibri,Arial"]It is however a sad fact (to quote Stephen Baxter), that people are probably further from people on the moon today, than the year before they launched the first moon landing.[/font]
 

Darkfinn

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Amazing that in these 40 years space exploration technology has basically stagnated. Ya figure we'd be on Mars by now.
 
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I was 10 almost 11 living in Northeast North Carolina when we landed on the moon the first time. I remember my mother having us watch it and saying that this will be a very important moment in history. Boy was she right and I am glad we tuned in on our little B/W TV.:smile:

I was in 3rd grade I think when Alan Shepard went up, just graduated high school when Armstrong took his first step. It was unbelievably cool to watch that kind of history happen live on TV. For the Mercury launches, the nuns would drag TV's into the classroom.

IMHO, the book and movie "The Right Stuff" jives pretty well with my memory of how this stuff was at the time, for any of you curious youngsters.

FWIW, 40th anniversary of Woodstock is coming up pretty quick too.

What a Golden Age to live in. Seriously. The USA in the 1950s was like Germany in the 1920s insofar as University involvement and field advancement.

Unfortunately, my most memorable NASA moment was watching the Challenger disaster. In school. Live. And hearing a very small voice from the back of the room ask, "is it supposed to do that?" Talk about a surreal day. :sad:
 

DHLA40

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Amazing that in these 40 years space exploration technology has basically stagnated. Ya figure we'd be on Mars by now.

Not so.

Telescopic, and remote exploration has gained us a great amount of new science that manned spaceflight couldn't feasibly accomplish. Physics won't allow us to travel to the places that have been seen by Hubble. Regardless of the physical dangers, distance alone would make that impossible.

Human physiology prevents us from accomplishing the missions of Voyager, Mariner, and Cassini-Hyugens because of radiation, gravity, and heat.

Every probe launched by NASA has advanced our knowledge of what's necessary to improve the scope of the next mission, and each mission is used not only to practice science, but gather information towards manned missions to places that are more hospitable to human kind, like Mars. That's an important reason why the Martian rovers' Spirit, and Opportunity were deployed.
 

MysteriousVisitor

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Its not so much a question of technology as a question of national willpower when space is concerned. The Russians had very real plans to launch a manned mission to Mars in the mid-70s. I'm convinced it would have been possible.

Alas, politicians would rather spend trillions on weapons and armies then a fraction of that on something that is really useful. Look what NASA did back in the days of larger budgets. I would love to see what NASA could do with a budget even a fraction of the DODs.
 

ballucanb

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I was 20 I saw it on a TV in our living room in our old house where I used to live, spent about 5 mins. looking at it.

Then like all 20 year olds went about my bussiness, it wasn't that memerable of a thing for me, just another thing on the tv.
 
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