July 15, 2009

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Remembering Apollo 11

Lift-off of the Saturn V rocket, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr, along with 6,700,000 pounds (3,039,000 kg) of fuel and equipment into the Florida sky, bound for the Moon, on July 16th, 1969.

The rocket was rising faster, slanting a little, its tense white flame leaving a long, thin spiral of bluish smoke behind it. It had risen into the open blue sky, and the dark red fire had turned into enormous billows of brown smoke, when the sound reached us: it was a long, violent crack, not a rolling sound, but specifically a cracking, grinding sound, as if space were breaking apart, but it seemed irrelevant and unimportant, because it was a sound from the past and the rocket was long since speeding safely out of its reach—though it was strange to realize that only a few seconds had passed. I found myself waving to the rocket involuntarily, I heard people applauding and joined them, grasping our common motive; it was impossible to watch passively, one had to express, by some physical action, a feeling that was not triumph, but more: the feeling that that white object’s unobstructed streak of motion was the only thing that mattered in the universe.
What we had seen, in naked essentials—but in reality, not in a work of art—was the concretized abstraction of man's greatness. -- Ayn Rand

Velociman writes for me when he says,

Once upon a time we were a great nation that strived for the stars. No more. Now we are ashamed of glory, because some fucking crackhead might feel neglected if we don't dote upon her, and slather her with our largesse at the expense of the Great Things. -- Velociworld: We Choose To Go To The Moon

I'm still hoping we don't get to the point where Charlton Heston will speak for all of us: You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

... but every so often I gets my doubtins'.

Posted by Vanderleun at July 15, 2009 7:49 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Two words: Spacecraft Films.

Posted by: rickl at July 15, 2009 9:49 PM

I loved the space missions as a kid - if only we'd had HiDef then! But I realize now they were missions before their time, running down capital without prospect of a return, politically driven,... magnificent as they were.

China will probably land the next man on the moon, and it won't do them a damn bit of good and will only hasten the black clouds looming on their economic horizon.

For the true American pioneering space effort look to the likes of Burt Rutan. They develop spacecraft because there is a profit to be had. And that's the vision which drove Columbus and Magellan and Edison ...

Posted by: Brett_McS at July 16, 2009 4:16 AM

Check out http://wechoosethemoon.org/ (from the JFK Library).
Live Apollo 11 coverage (40-year delay).

Posted by: Cris at July 16, 2009 8:05 AM

Getting spooky. I swear this: I have been walking around all summer repeating those Planet of the Ape lines AND the other Charlton Heston quotable:
"From my cold dead hands!"

Among my top 10 movies: The Right Stuff.

Posted by: Cathy at July 16, 2009 8:46 AM

Had to share this from NASA website. It's about Neil and Buzz and their inability to sleep up there.

"Wide Awake on The Sea of Tranquility"


Posted by: Cathy at July 16, 2009 8:59 AM

We threw away the Apollo program, literally. Recently read that we may throw away (de-orbit) the space station in 2016. Very bad idea, but hey, there is precedence.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at July 16, 2009 9:57 AM

Echoing Brett, I'm a fan of Virgin Galactic, because its goal is to become a profitable venture.

Posted by: Harvey at July 18, 2009 12:57 AM