Open thread and Moon landing memories

What's on your mind this weekend?

I was just a baby when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, but if you can remember that big day, tell us about it in this thread.

The New York Times collected a bunch of photographs submitted by readers about their moon landing memories.

As a kid I remember people claiming the moon mission was staged in a Hollywood studio, but I had no idea conspiracy theorists doubting the moon landing were still around.

Tags: moon landing, Open Thread (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

Re: Open thread and Moon landing memories

40 Years after a truly huge achievement and we are ... where?

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the landing on the Moon in 1967. Neil Armstrong ("One small step for a man... one giant leap for mankind") ad Buzz Aldrin planted the flag and put out a plaque marking the landing which, in under a decade, had been the result of spending $183 Billion Bucks and upping the confrontation with the Russians, who had achieved the original advance in space by putting up Sputnik and sending two different cosmonauts on full orbits around the Earth.

I was a Junior in college and I know I was impressed. Jack Kennedy, who kicked off the program wasn't alive to see the results he had called for carried out by NASA. Lyndon Johnson, who pushed the budget through, was no longer in office. And Dick Nixon, who was never really a supporter of the space program, but who saw its publicity value, got to congratulate the two moonwalkers by phone as they stood looking at our planet in space.

The reason why the moon oriented space program got the push it did was the Cold War. To let the USSR get ahead of us scientifically, in a way that could have military consequences, was not going to be tolerated.  When the military threat of the USSR was gone... when the USSR itself was gone... there was no reason to put that kind of thrust into our rockets. Reagan wanted to put our military budget relating to space into missiles pointed back at our enemies from satellites. George H.W. Bush was concerned with Saddam Hussein's actions, but there was no Iraqi space program to compete with. Clinton saw the public relations advantages of doing a minimal amount of activities with a space station and George W. Bush, well, he barely saw that,

Originally, NASA had planned to have us on Mars by 1987. People, that is. In the 21st Century we have managed to get a couple of crawling robot TV cameras on Mars, and a very old space shuttle is still flying on missions that do very little. And we are bored with it all.

That's right... bored. We rarely know when a shuttle goes up any more (unless it blows up in space... dead people are always news wherever they are) and we don't really seem to care. It is not as important as unemployment or health care or the recession. They talk about getting folks back on the moon by 2020... but you can bet that such a program, without some kind of real, philosophical need by Americans is unlikely to make the deadline. Or, if the Iranians gave up on nuclear power and focused their attention on a Muslim moon base, perhaps we would have a need to beat the date. That's how we're programmed.

The 19th Century and early 20th once had a philosophical and artistic need to get us to the moon. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells created literary works. Filmmakers from the silents to the sci-fi directors of the 1950s got us to the moon frequently (and rarely with rocket ships.) Science Fiction magazines in the 1920s made Hugo Gernsbach a rich publisher and getting us to the moon was an established need. So many youngsters in my generation grew up wanting to be involved that science programs in colleges grew faster than arts programs and that all helped us get to the 1967 landing.

And now here we are, 40 years later, watching a 72-year-old Buzz Aldrin on TV being interviewed about a future that has become the past. We are not pushing for it any more... and that is too bad.

Under The LobsterScope

by btchakir 2009-07-19 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread and Moon landing memories

It was incredible. I was 12 years old. I don't remember anyone saying anything. We just sat there and watched, all day and night. Time stopped. The world stopped. People just watched those images (how crummy that film looks now compared with hidef)

It was amazing how much a part of our lives the "space race" was. Every launch was an event. Pre-digital anything, pre-computer graphics TV SCIENCE reporters (yes, there was such a thing) used plastic models (the same ones we all bought and glued together) to demonstrate the complex rocket choreography of multiple stages, dockings, undockings, etc. it took to get there and back. We knew so much about what was going on and why; we'd spent - as a nation - 8 years being taught all this stuff. It was probably the last time science and engineering were held in such high esteem.

I remember Walter (RIP) explaining everything, and we understood it. This was pre-sound bite, pre-dumbing down, pre-reality TV.

Then it was over. Just TWO Apollo missions (the ill-fated Apollo 13) nobody really cared anymore - until things went wrong.

by meddembob 2009-07-19 08:24AM | 0 recs
I spent 7 years

in Hunstville Alabama for one reason: my Dad worked on the UI of the Saturn V.  I am a space brat, and it is probably not possible to convey the excitement  around the Space Program in the 60's.  

My Dad saw Apollo XI take off (the UI controlled staging on the Saturn V, and he was always in Florida for the liftoffs).  I can still remember him crying when XI landed on the moon.

It was the accomplishment of a different and better country.

by fladem 2009-07-19 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread and Moon landing memories

I was born almost exactly nine months after the moon landing.  I'm adopted, so I never knew my natural parents... but I've always sorta wondered about that.

by Steve M 2009-07-20 06:36AM | 0 recs
Check out Bad Astronomy

Phil Plait does consistently great blog posts about space, has great pictures from NASA, he can explain things in a way that a layman can understand (most of the time) and he is a great debunker of pseudo-science and denialists of all kinds (antivax, creationists, etc.)

A must read every day.

by fbihop 2009-07-20 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread and Moon landing memories

I was born in 1959, the same year the original 7 astronauts were named.  I remember being happy to get my tonsils out because I would be home from school and I could watch a Gemini launch.  I remember watching Apollo 8 rounding the moon and Jim Lovell wishing us a Merry Christmas in 1968, the year so much happened.  Unbelievably, the next summer I watched with my family as Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon.  I remember Alan Bean pointing his camera at the sun and still watching a reanactment of what the astronauts were doing in a studio mock-up, I think on CBS.  I remember watching Jules Bergman while we waited for Apollo 13's safe return.  I remember Alan Shepard hitting a golf ball on the moon.  I remember watching the lunar buggy bouncing on the moon.  I remember watching the last lift off of the lunar module from the surface of the moon with Apollo 17 in 1972 with a sadness realizing that the Apollo program was done.  I grew up with the space program and will always remember the thrills it provided.  I'm saddened that we haven't been able to recapture the magic of those years.

by r2d2 2009-07-20 01:38PM | 0 recs

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