From my Heart to the Moon

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Neroon, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    I'm 45 minutes into disc 1 of my latest Christmas gift from my kids ... and thrice I have nearly been in tears. The first came as Pres. Kennedy set a goal so many of us know so very well. The second crept upon me as I watched Ed White reluctantly returned to his Gemini capsule, on "the saddest day of my life." The third... whispered as Deke Slayton walked alongside Gus Grissom during a hunting trip, asking Gus if he would command the Apollo 1 flight.

    Tom Hanks' "From the Earth to the Moon" is special. When you've lived your entire life dreaming of the stars, knowing you're too short and too nearsighted and just plain born in the wrong era to ever see them unhindered... you take whatever means you can to get there. No matter how vicariously. Thanks to one of my best friends who had loaned me his VHS tapes - you're a god, Doug - my wife & I lived through all twelve episodes. All of the stories about "Can We Do This?" and "Spider", about "Gallileo Was Right" and "The Original Wives Club". Watching these episodes.. I was there. I was frelling THERE!! Living through it all again, and not just reliving the episodes. The events they represented. These days... the Cynic in me doubts we will ever reach these heights again in my lifetime. The Dreamer in me can't wait to get the party re-started. And thanks to Mr. Hanks and his party of experts, I think I'll get the champaign chilling. Well, maybe Mt. Dew

    So why post this in here? Because I'm curious about the primary reasons for the cessation of the Apollo program. Was it completely budgetary? Was it felt we achieved what we could for the time? Yes, there are allegedly plans for a return to the moon, for a manned trip to Mars... but just how likely is it that such will ever be pulled off? At least at a time when you and I can witness it.
     
  2. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was completely floored by the Apollo One episode. :( That happened three years before I was born, so I didn't live through it. But I was almost in tears when the episode came on. Especially that first scene in Mission Control when they have just found out that Grissom, White and Chaffee are all dead.

    This series is without a doubt the best product ever made for TV. Bar none. I cannot WAIT till it comes out in BluRay format.

    (Since it's made by HBO, it will be BluRay exclusive)

    And the ep about Apollo 12 (That's All There Is) is freaking hilarious. Paul McCrane just *is* Pete Conrad.

    Although the astronaut I would probably most like to have actually met would be Frank Borman. David Andrews did a great job of playing him. Then again, there isn't a bad actor in this entire series. So he's in good company. :)
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I figure part of it was that the Apollo program was more political than anything else. It was about beating the Soviets, proving that our, err, rockets were bigger than their rockets. To the government, that sort of thing was more worth funding than pure science could ever be. So once we won the race, the government wasn't as motivated to keep up the funding.

    Also, for something that was primarily symbolic with little in the way of economically tangible return, there was no way a government could continue to operate the program indefinitely, especially a government that's funded by voting taxpayers. Historically, the exploration of new frontiers has never become viable until government has partnered with private enterprise, subsidizing their risk and sharing in their profits (such as the fur traders who opened the North American frontier or the British East India Company that became the tool of empire in South Asia). The reason we haven't gone back to space aggressively is because it hasn't become a commercial enterprise yet, because we've remained locked into the assumption that it's something for the government to handle. Fortunately that's beginning to change.
     
  4. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    That's a very good point about the increasing role of commercial entities in the development of space travel. I seem to recall a "space hotel" slated to open before all that long. Not that I have $4m to spend for turn-down service. Or splashdown service, for that matter.
     
  5. Outpost4

    Outpost4 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It is almost impossible to imagine, but to the average American, Apollo became boring. It just wasn't interesting any more. "Been there/done that" became the prevalent attitude.

    I know this doesn't make any sense to a board dedicated to "exploring strange new worlds" but it was the case.
     
  6. MIB

    MIB Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Damn, do I know what that's like and thensome. Born in 1985 I spent almost my entire childhood dreaming about space stations, moon bases, and Mars only to realize later that I was born 50 years too late to really contribute to the First Space Age and easily 60 or 70 years too early for the Second Space Age (and that is an optimistic estimate, IMO.) When I was little, I truely, honestly believed that by the time I was 30, I could be working in space. But then I discovered that the interest is no longer there and NASA just doesn't have the vision. :(
     
  7. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I kinda wish From the Earth to the Moon had done an episode about the Apollo/Soyuz mission.

    I mean, Nick Searcy did such a great job playing Deke Slayton for the entire series, I wonder if he wished they'd covered this mission - so he could suit up and be an astronaut like Deke himself finally did. :)

    I remember emailing Brett Cullen - who played astronaut Dave Scott - and I told him how much I loved the show. He actually wrote back! He thanked me and said how much he enjoyed doing it. In fact the real Dave Scott invited him over to watch the show with their family whenever any of his episodes were on.

    Also: Lane Smith. What can I say? There's nothing he's ever been in where he gave anything less than 200% of acting ability. I really miss him. He was one of the best. (He died of Lou Gehrig's Disease awhile back. :( ) Even though there never was a real Emmett Seaborn, he made it look as though there must have been. RIP Lane :thumbsup:
     
  8. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Oh I believe you. "Apollo 13" touched on that early on, when they showed Marilyn Lovell and family coming to watch Jim's show from the craft, shortly before the accident.
     
  9. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Even the *technicians* seemed a bit bored... some of them were watching baseball at the time. :lol:
     
  10. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Last night, we watched "Spider", which may be my favorite single episode of the entire mini-series. What struck me the most was the "can-do" attitude of the Grumman team that designed and built the craft. As corny as that sounds, it may have been just as critical as anything to the lunar program's success. For each and every obstacle that was thrown in their path, they came up with a solution and eventually developed the ungainly little spacecraft that made landing on the moon - and returning from it - possible.
     
  11. Mark de Vries

    Mark de Vries Commodore Commodore

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    I agree. 'Spider' is one of my favourite episodes as well. I think it wonderfully shows the design team's dedication to getting the job done, and producing a craft capable of landing on the surface of the moon.

    "It's a beautiful Machine, Tom."
    "It is, isn't it?"
    [...]
    "You really think that thing is beautiful?"
    "God, no. It looks like a toaster over with legs. But I'm not gonna tell him that."
     
  12. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Contrast that with the comment McDivitt makes as they watch LEM3 float away from them in orbit...

    "It really is a beautiful machine"

    and he sincerely meant it.
     
  13. Outpost4

    Outpost4 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You should get these two books:

    Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module - Thomas J. Kelly

    Tom Kelly is considered "the father of the Lunar Module". I say that in quotes because every time I've seen it in print, it's been that way. :p A Grumman employee, he headed up the project from their first proposal through the last landing. He is an engineer and occasionally the book does get hung up on technicalia, but those few pages you might skim through are more than made up by stories told by the guy who was there, who designed and built the damn thing. It is a fascinating tale and you realize how much they were making this up as they went along. There is a chapter alone on making the drawings from which the LM was built. Remember, this was back in the day of T-squares and lead pencil engineering drawings. A major hang-up was getting all of those done. They had to average 500 a week. I had no idea. Kelly is also a good enough author to tell the story that he knew best. It's a technical book that in general doesn't read that way.


    Building Moonships: The Grumman Lunar Module - Joshua Stoff

    This is the perfect companion picture book to Kelly's story. While Moon Lander has some drawings and pictures, this second book is only that. With more pages dedicated to early mock-ups and construction photos than to flashy finished models, it allows you to see what Kelly is writing about. Of course, if you don't give a rat's ass about engineering and just want to see how it was done, this is the only book to buy. :D
     
  14. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Now THAT is precisely the kind of reading I need! I am no engineer, but the stories Kelly would tell, and even some of the more technical aspects, would be fascinating. The other book sounds exactly as you describe - a perfect companion to the first. It floors me what was accomplished in that era. Not that we don't achieve great things today, but in that era there at least seemed to be so many more challenges in the design and technology alone.

    Last night was another double-bill of intense drama with lighthearted escapade. "Mare Tranquilitatis" followed by "Is That All There Is?" The first was of course about the training and lead up to the Apollo 11 landing, while the second chronicled the close-knit crew from Apollo 12.
     
  15. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I love that one scene where one of the engineers goes into Tom Kelly's office and reveals that he made a mistake, possibly costing them quite a lot of work. The man fully expects to be fired, and it looks like Tom is about to do it...then Tom says "...and get some rest."

    Off the engineer's confused look, Tom goes on:
    Although I think my favorite line from that episode was this:

    :guffaw:
     
  16. Dusty Ayres

    Dusty Ayres Commodore

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    About this 'commercial space' bullshit, don't you believe it; there will be a new space race, from the one country that's America's rival in everything these days: The People's Republic Of China. The PRC's already launched two manned space missions, as is already known, and will be making many more-this might even start up a space race, if the U.S. government's interested in taking up the challenge. So , I think that commercial space might not take off just yet.