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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont

    Apollo, Gemini, race to the moon stuff

    I don't know how many have seen it, but PBS is running a series (which I think concludes tonight) on the space race. I chose not to watch initially, because I grew up watching all that stuff, and thought I knew pretty much all there was to know.

    Turns out I was wrong...I was spinning the dial the last two nights, and found some fascinating stuff.

    For example, everyone knows about JFK's challenge to the country to "get a man to the moon and safely home by the end of the decade."

    What I didn't know is how equivocal he was about the whole thing...they had audio of him saying he really didn't care about space, it was going to wreck his budget, and the only reason he
    was interested was to pass and beat the Russkis. Outside of that, he just didn't care all that much.

    Some good stuff featuring our then American hero Werner von Braun, formerly Nazi slave labor master, enemy of America Werner von Braun. A lot of stuff and details I hadn't seen before.

  2. #2
    Good programming alert, Budwom -- agree wholeheartedly on the excellence of the documentaries recounting the history of the space race in the PBS "America Experience" series, which include some remarkable segments that I don't recall having ever been aired before. For example, although I lived through and recall vividly the entire sequence of events, at a time when I was quite attuned to the space program, I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've ever heard the voice recordings from the cockpit of the first Apollo capsule, when the fire broke out that tragically killed Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. I'd also never seen the footage and heard the commentary of Nikita Khruschev's son regarding Kennedy's repeated efforts to persuade the Soviets to combine resources and make the moon race a joint effort. Of course, this series includes the familiar videos featuring the moon landing of Apollo 11 and the mishaps that befell Apollo 13, but adds a lot of interesting but previously undisclosed detail surrounding those missions, the astronauts, their family members, and the ground control personnel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Yes, the black astronaut kerfuffle was something new to me, too...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
    I'm loving this series, and yes, lots of little bits of things I certainly hadn't known before. Loving these home movies during Apollo 8 (and of course there's that Borman connection to Duke bball too, so this subject is even on-topic). I sure never knew that Ed White's wife just couldn't handle what happened and later committed suicide. Looking back, though, it's amazing how much seemingly mundane film footage was taken of meetings and etc. that now is absolutely fascinating to see. Stay tuned tonight for the final chunk of this wonderful series...

  5. #5
    Recording and watching it too. Loved the Apollo 11 movie in the theatres, that’s been on also. I grew up on the space program as my Navy Dad was on the USS Randolph that hosted John Glenn after his flight. Also loved the Tom Hanks series “From the Earth to the Moon” I think.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Watching carolina Go To HELL!
    I grew up a space junkie too. Remember watching all the Mercury shots, or as often was the case, delayed attempts, on tv as a young kid. Gemini and Apollo too. Watched John Glenn’s launch on February 20, 1962 at a friends house during his 8th birthday party. It is also my mother’s birthday, so it’s easy for me to remember the date!

    We have the series recorded on the DVR and we’ve watched the first hour or so. I love this stuff!
    Ozzie, your paradigm of optimism!

    Go To Hell carolina, Go To Hell!
    9F 9F 9F
    http://www.EGLEW.com


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    I was in sixth grade when Alan Shepard made his first flight (a wee one) and the thing I remember most was that our teacher broke down in tears and sobbed uncontrollably until they fished him out of the water...

  8. #8
    The crazy thing to me in all of this is how revolutionary folks think SpaceX is for landing rockets tail end first...HELLO! How do you think they landed on the moon? Everything that is old is new again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by PackMan97 View Post
    The crazy thing to me in all of this is how revolutionary folks think SpaceX is for landing rockets tail end first...HELLO! How do you think they landed on the moon? Everything that is old is new again.
    Perhaps most amazing is that they got to the moon with a tiny fraction of the computing power you have in your hand held device...(slide rules plus white short sleeve shirts = moon.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Durham
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    Perhaps most amazing is that they got to the moon with a tiny fraction of the computing power you have in your hand held device...(slide rules plus white short sleeve shirts = moon.)
    As amazing as it is that they made it to the moon, it is even more amazing to me how they made it back. Think about how complex the launch process is to get a spaceship off earth, and they had to launch off the moon in a completely different atmosphere and get the ship going in the right direction.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyNotCrazie View Post
    As amazing as it is that they made it to the moon, it is even more amazing to me how they made it back. Think about how complex the launch process is to get a spaceship off earth, and they had to launch off the moon in a completely different atmosphere and get the ship going in the right direction.
    Yeah, marooning those guys on the moon would have been a bad look for sure, and getting them back was hardly trivial. As JFK pointed out, the U.S. chose to make all its launches public...if something blew up, there was nowhere to hide...on the other hand, the Russkis announced stuff after it had been completed...they had a number of failures the U.S. knew about, but they didn't get publicized by and large...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PackMan97 View Post
    The crazy thing to me in all of this is how revolutionary folks think SpaceX is for landing rockets tail end first...HELLO! How do you think they landed on the moon? Everything that is old is new again.
    Fair enough, but the Moon lander weighs MUCH less.

    I hope everyone is aware of the great related stuff going on in the present and future! Although there are some challenges removed when you don't have to worry about getting humans back, the landing of Curiosity on Mars in 2012 and the next Mars rover in 2021 are insanely impressive, and we are going to land a robotic helicopter on Saturn's moon Titan in 2034. There are also theoretical plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, though no one could be blamed for being skeptical.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Wander View Post
    Fair enough, but the Moon lander weighs MUCH less.
    Not to mention, no atmosphere means you don't have to worry about air turbulence, atmospheric heating a host of other gnarly problems.

    SpaceX's use of rocket exhaust as a heat shield is particularly impressive innovation. Not only does it slow the rocket down to handle the return of atmosphere, it causes the atmospheric compression that generates heat to happen well away from the reentering booster.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
    A few thoughts on the show.

    There is no way in this risk averse era that the Apollo missions would happen now as they did then. The cold war drove innovation and it did so in a way that was reflective of the times. They did so much of what they did by a hair. Armstrong landing the LEM manually with 17 seconds of fuel left?! Amazing. Those guys were cowboys. Ultra smart and meticulous, but they lived on the edge.

    Many kids - especially little boys are infatuated with dinosaurs and rockets. How lucky some of us were to grow up during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. I was too young for the first two, but all over Apollo. Just a great time to be a kid when you didn't have to imagine rockets. You witnessed them.

    I always thought we had 6 flags standing on the moon. I did not know that Apollo 11 planted theirs 25 feet from the LEM and when the ascent engine fired Aldrin saw it fall from the force. Subsequent flag plantings were done further away because of this. He was busy looking at some instrumentation, but happened to glance out the window to witness it. Lucky break. Then again no one would be the wiser right?

    To this day with all of our technology I believe the lunar landings were mankind's greatest achievement. Does anything else come close? Maybe some medical cures, etc., but besides that kind of thing I don't know.

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