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Something Wonderful: A Blast from the Past

Saturn V rocket launch with enhanced and remastered footage.

“Commander Alan Shepard, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell launched on their nine-day mission on Sunday, January 31, 1971, at 4:03:02 p.m. EST. En route to the lunar landing, the crew overcame malfunctions that might have resulted in a second consecutive aborted mission, and possibly, the premature end of the Apollo program.”

“Shepard and Mitchell made their lunar landing on February 5 in the Fra Mauro formation – originally the target of Apollo 13. During the two walks on the surface, they collected 94.35 pounds (42.80 kg) of Moon rocks and deployed several scientific experiments. To the dismay of some geologists, Shepard and Mitchell did not reach the rim of Cone crater as had been planned, though they came close. In Apollo 14’s most famous incident, Shepard hit two golf balls he had brought with him with a makeshift club.”

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  • Dirk April 27, 2022, 8:24 AM


  • John Venlet April 27, 2022, 8:38 AM

    I was 3 months shy of turning 11 years old, when I watched that on teevee. The remastered/enhanced video elicits the same awe I had when I was a boy. Cool!

    • ghostsniper April 27, 2022, 11:07 AM

      On 31 Jan 1971, a Sunday, my 16th birthday party had ended and my mother went into the living room and turned on the 19″ TV and said, “The moon launch is coming on soon!” and we all went in there to watch. My dad had given me my first car and after the launch he and I went out driving around. As the launch was happening we went out in the front yard, in Fort Myers, FL, and stared northeast and there it was, bigger’n Stuttgart, 150 miles away. The sun was at the right angle and reflected off of it just right. We watched til it was out of sight. It was moments like that that inspired me to be an engineer someday, though not in that field. What a wonderful time to be alive.

  • Joe Krill April 27, 2022, 8:45 AM

    My question is very simple. If this happened 50 years ago with a space program that was second to none, then why do we not have colonies on the moon now? The more I read about about our moon shots, the more I doubt they ever happened. Encapsulate what I just wrote in the context of, “When has the government ever told us, the American people, the truth?”. AND-“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” – William J. Casey, CIA Director (1981)

    • Fletcher Christian April 27, 2022, 8:57 AM

      Quite simple. The Apollo moon shots, and indeed most of what led up to them from Gemini onwards, were pointless from any point of view except what they were; Cold War propaganda boondoggles. To get even Project Mercury started, all work on several other projects was stopped – including DynaSoar, which was a natural step up from high-altitude aircraft.

      Before the famous speech, everyone was assuming that space travel would proceed as a logical sequence, including the building of an orbital base from which a Moon mission would eventually be launched.

      What America got, instead, was a series of disintegrating totem poles.

      A Moonbase never succeeded Apollo for two reasons; one that it was unaffordable with the available technology and secondly, that Apollo had proven the point it was supposed to.

      Incidentally, one of the casualties of the damn-the-cost race to the Moon was a technology that would have had Americans on Saturn’s moons by maybe the late 70s; Project Orion.

    • Gordon Scott April 27, 2022, 11:26 AM

      The rot engendered by the 1960s affects us still today. Vietnam left us emotionally exhausted, and budgets were cut to pay for the excesses of the 1960s. The space shuttle went from a highly capable Cadillac to a Chevy that never met its promise. And politicians demanded money be spent here, not on the moon.

      I disagree with Fletcher. Project Gemini did what it was supposed to do: prove that we could work in space, including meeting up with another spacecraft. That’s no easy thing. And since we used a proven booster, the Titan, it was relatively inexpensive, and we turned those missions around quickly (the way Musk does).

      The Apollo flight profile (lunar orbit rendezvous) was the result of engineers working out how to get a mass of X onto the moon, and then get it back again. It’s an interesting story in itself. We could have simultaneously worked on Orion and all the other projects, but instead we built 10,000 Huey helicopters to fly around half a world away.

      The techniques and technology are proven. We needed to get NASA out of the way. That’s happening now. NASA’s launch program is obsolete before its first flight.

    • D S Craft April 27, 2022, 9:53 PM

      The answer is pretty simple, too. The whole point of going to the moon was to get there before the Soviets did. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet when he was still alive to get there by the end of decade and prove that America’s capitalist system was superior to the USSR’s communism. In the 1960’s that was a real big deal and we threw a ton of money at it to make it happen. Once we got there it was mission accomplished. Reagan repeated the tactic in the 1980’s with the ABM system we started working on to much fanfare knowing the Soviets would try to keep up. Once again we pitted our economic system against theirs and won. Things on the ABM front got real quiet once the USSR folded. But we most definitely made it to the moon, in spite of what some moonbats say.

  • Dirk April 27, 2022, 9:14 AM

    Many think these moon shots were Hollywood back lot productions.

    My father in law says nope. He was chief engineer on many of these rocket shots. Ended his career as one of the chief engineers on the MX Missile program, “Aerojet”, out of Folsom Ca. He’s 93 now, sharp as a tack!

    • Pebo April 27, 2022, 7:36 PM

      The 1st Saturn V launch, unmanned, was on May 25, 1966. About 10 minutes before the launch, B. Frank Brown, the principal of Melbourn High School 30 miles south of the Cape, had the entire school go outside to watch. It was a proud day for us all I believe. Some years before that I had a paper route and delivered to rocket scientist types and others that worked at the Cape. Heady days growing up around all of that.

  • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 9:15 AM

    Truly, “there were giants in the earth in those days.” The Americans were the greatest people in History. But senescence and lassitude have overtaken what was once grandly claimed as “the American century”. In times past when one civilization faded another arose to take its place. But nowadays there is nothing worth mentioning on the horizon. Almost every nation has been subsumed into a dreary existence of gadgetry and wokeness under the banner of sexual perversion. If there are historians of the future what would they call the age in which we now live? “The Dark Ages” is already taken. I suggest therefore “The Twilight of the Gods”. Catchy, yes? Better than “Götterdämmerung” I think.

    • ghostsniper April 27, 2022, 11:18 AM

      Dam your ass Mike, make run for the dictionary again. Maybe I’ll be a better person some day for it.
      I concur with what you wrote. In 1971 I KNEW someday I would drive my very own AeroCar, like was shown in Popular Mechanics magazine. But by the time I got out of the army at age 23 in 1978 the signs were already there but nobody paid attention. The downhill slide continued slowly to where we are today. Adult size children squabbling over who gets the last cookie crumbs from the bottom of the tainted jar. Except for what I have done solely, the rest of my life has been a waste. “Too many people, and not enough eyes to see.”

    • John Venlet April 27, 2022, 11:31 AM

      Mike, this is the age of “The Endarkenment.” I first learned the term from Billy Beck, but I do not know if he coined it.

      • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 1:18 PM

        Also good. A pity we cannot know how some future historian will think of us. He might just possibly laugh out loud at the first—and last—people in all of History not to know the differences between men and women.

        One can also go backwards. What would the Vikings have thought of us? What would the legions of Scipio have thought of us? But then comes this: What would Jesus think of us? What does Jesus think of us?

        Another term: “The Time of Darkening”. Wake me when it’s over.

        • Fletcher Christian April 28, 2022, 2:54 PM

          Indeed. I often wonder what Jesus would make of the Vatican, or of any of those megachurches owned and run by televangelists – complete with the rows of Rolls-Royces outside.

      • KCK April 27, 2022, 1:56 PM

        I like that. It has it’s own meaning separate from the Dark Ages, and sounds man-driven. As great as the Enlightenment was, so dismal will the Endarkenment be.

        I want to be an Irish monk, inscribing the Testaments and better, yet, artworks, while the world devolves for awhile.

        • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 3:25 PM

          An Irish monk? Then watch out for these fine fellows:


          Lindisfarne was fine until the arrival of the Northmen (793).

          • KCK April 27, 2022, 8:09 PM

            You jumped from Ireland to the other side of Britain. But, it’s all good. It seems that the Irish – kings, queens, monks, and people, preserved the scriptures at the outermost edge and past the Roman Empire. While the Dark Ages saw what deterioration it did see, the Irish “saved” civilization, according to the story.

            Beautiful music, thanks.

            I try to part time backwards and see more in the Medieval for my art than I see in the Renaissance. God filled the air, and space was stacked vertically. The most energy developed was when Cimabue began to resolve Christ’s visible form with his crucified body and with time itself. God managed Cimabue’s outcomes.

    • ThisIsNotNutella April 27, 2022, 7:29 PM

      We Wuz Kangz.

    • Fletcher Christian April 28, 2022, 3:57 AM

      Almost, but not quite. There are exceptions. Led, IMHO, by one man, whom the apparatus of government (FAA, various tax issues…) is being warmed up to stop.

      His name? Elon Musk.

    • Blackwing1 April 28, 2022, 8:11 AM

      I think that Heinlein’s “The Crazy Years” will be applied.

  • Freddo April 27, 2022, 9:21 AM

    Humbling. And now SpaceX is doing it in reverse on a routine basis. Standing on the shoulders of giants…

    • Fletcher Christian April 27, 2022, 11:16 AM

      To be fair, the main reasons why SpaceX can do so well now is the immensely better computing technology – allowing for such things as CAD design and 3D printed rocket nozzles. Still requires vision, though.

  • Dirk April 27, 2022, 2:32 PM

    Many years ago, I was a key note speaker at a Juvenile Justice Conference, in Washington DC. I was asked to go, politely said No Thank You. Then I got Ordered to go. Yes Sir.

    Anyway I went to the Smithsonian while there that week. Sputnik was next to our Apollo. The contrast between both was amazing. Apollo was crude but the workman ship outstanding. Sputnik, my god it’s hard to believe that even a monkey or two flew in that hunk a shit.

    That’s the exterior. Amazing to be able touch such an important part of our history, to reflect on. All the engineers, the trial and error, yet we prevailed. Those are truly proud moments.

    Sputnik literally looked like a bunch of vodka drunk Russians put it together. Crude poorly constructed. Amazing really.

    I spent a complete day in the aviation wing.

    • ghostsniper April 27, 2022, 3:06 PM

      Are you talking about this Sputnik?
      How does it look crude?
      I don’t think critters occupied it.


      • Vanderleun April 27, 2022, 3:15 PM

        HAMSTERS. Two. In rut.

        • ThisIsNotNutella April 27, 2022, 7:31 PM

          Gerbils… If you can keep them.

    • ThisIsNotNutella April 27, 2022, 7:37 PM

      It’s important to smoke just enough Copeium to get through any given day and not more.

      Soviet military and aerospace engineering was rough and ready… Generally it got the job done well enough.

      Some of the apparent crudeness was due to Muh Communism, some due to not needing to gold plate shit in multiple Sentators’ states in order to get the contracts, and some due to the aforementioned form follows function and blinged out fit and finish often being superfluity. And some of the apparent American Shininess was even due to to being the best they could be and Giants in the Land. It’s not like a whole lot of Operation Paperclip Germans didn’t teach them a thing or two about how to get Alles in Ordnung 😛

      Ten years after the Collapse, let’s see how many AKs are still functioning ‘well enough’ cf. ARs.

      I’m two decades younger than the average Boomer here.. Old enough to have spent the early part of my life hating and fearing the Soviets. I’ve moved on. Took me longer than it should have, too.

    • gwbnyc April 27, 2022, 9:06 PM

      *the Smithsonian*

      -now woke.