By Bjorn CareyPosted 07.20.2009 at 7:29 pm 4 Comments
On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it seems like every news outlet worth its weight in regolith is reproducing classic content to put the historic moment in the proper content. Well, here's one Apollo-related news item, printed on July 17th, as Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins were well on their way to the Moon, that I doubt the New York Times wants to draw much attention to today: a retraction of a 1920 article which stated rocket motors couldn't work in the vacuum of space, almost fifty years after the fact.
Possibly the single most influential event in the public's interest in science and technology (not to mention one of humankind's greatest adventures), the Apollo 11 mission touched the collective dreams of millions, while pushing science and technology swiftly forward at an unprecedented pace.
But in the decades since man first walked on the moon, science has advanced so rapidly that technology which even a few years ago might have been considered magic has become commonplace. Even so, it would be naïve to assume that Apollo 11 ever represented science and technology's pinnacle, and that nothing forthcoming will similarly explode the world's collective dreams and perceptions of what it means to be human.
So what's next? What will be the next worldwide event or discovery that fundamentally changes the way we look at ourselves and the universe we live in?
With the monotone bleeps of Sputnik still ringing in a rattled nation's ears, President Eisenhower committed America to a program of manned space flight, a program culminating in the Apollo 11 mission and its legendary moon landing.
Whether you believe the astronauts went in peace for all mankind, or as part of a nationalistic competition driven by Cold War paranoia, there's no escaping the profound impact the moon landing had on the human psyche. The moon landing showed the whole world how technology can shift the bounds of the possible, and Popular Science was there the whole way.
Last week, a fly-by of the moon showed impressions remaining on the surface from the Apollo 11 landing. That was 40 years ago, and those impressions linger on undisturbed. It's that longevity that one company wants to exploit, carving messages into the surface in the moon for the purpose of selling ad space.
If you haven't yet noticed, today we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first humans to step foot on the moon, which happened at around 4:15 pm EST, July 20, 1969. And in perhaps the world's most fitting use of this particular cliché, Things Have Never Been the Same.
The 79-year-old astronaut says: Enough about the moon; let's go to Mars
By Douglas WrightPosted 07.20.2009 at 10:55 am 0 Comments
Preparing for an Apollo 11 Countdown Test
It's been 40 years since Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 lunar module in the Sea of Tranquility. Aldrin, now 79 years old, recalls that fateful day with clarity. Alarms were sounding inside the space capsule during their speedy descent, and even down to the last seconds, the astronauts were uncertain whether they would need to abort the landing. Millions of Earthlings watched on television as the Eagle touched down.
Much has changed over four decades, and despite the success of the International Space Station, enhanced shuttle technology, robotic rovers, and satellites which bring us back daily analytical data from our solar system, the visionary optimism that once propelled the space race and captured the world's collective imagination has waned. Ironically, with the loss of this optimism, the very notion of manned space travel beyond our moon seems to have become antiquated itself.
Imagine flying out to Hawaii, with its pristine landscape and postcard perfect beaches, and then taking off again on a suborbital space adventure. State officials are betting on that future vision, by considering spending $500,000 on a federally licensed spaceport, and thereby joining such states as Florida, Oklahoma, and New Mexico in jostling for a piece of space-tourism pie.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released a tantilizing preview of their newly-restored video footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. NASA's working with restorations specialists Lowry Digital to greatly enhance the quality of the best available broadcast source, bringing it up to never-before-seen quality.
But why must they work from a recording of the broadcast? It's heartbreaking: NASA accidentally erased the original tapes.
NASA's Endeavour shuttle launched yesterday evening, after a near-record five delays, on a mission to aid in International Space Station construction for 16 days. However, the craft lost about a dozen pieces of fuel-tank debris during lift off, possibly causing damage to the shuttle.