Forty-five years ago today, Christmas Eve 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders saw something no human had ever seen before—our planet as it appeared to rise over the moon’s horizon.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
Thanks to a well-timed tip from landscape blogger Alex Trevi of Pruned, Venue made a detour on our exit out of Flagstaff, Arizona, to visit the old black cinder fields of an extinct volcano—where, incredibly, NASA and its Apollo astronauts once practiced their, at the time, forthcoming landing on the moon.
Read more. [Image: Venue]
Moonwalk by Bryan Smith is part of a National Geographic Channel series called The Man Who Can Fly. This particular scene features Dean Potter, a record-breaking climber who lives in Yosemite, walking on a highline between two enormous granite rocks.
Polls both by USA Today and Gallup have shown support for the moon landing has increased the farther we’ve gotten away from it. 77 percent of people in 1989 thought the moon landing was worth it; only 47 percent felt that way in 1979.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, a process began that has all but eradicated any reference to the substantial opposition by scientists, scholars, and regular old people to spending money on sending humans to the moon. Part jobs program, part science cash cow, the American space program in the 1960s placed the funding halo of military action on the heads of civilians. It bent the whole research apparatus of the United States to a symbolic goal in the Cold War[…]
Given this outlay during the 1960s, a time of great social unrest, you can bet people protested spending this much money on a moon landing. Many more quietly opposed the missions.
On September 12, 1962, President Kennedy made an inspiring case for space exploration and putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Speaking at Rice University, where he was an honorary visiting professor, Kennedy explained, “I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency. ” Indeed, the U.S. tripled the budget for space exploration between 1961 and 1962, and on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 made history.
As the world mourns the loss of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, it’s worth taking a moment to revisit the iconic Apollo 11 landing. Armstrong’s first steps on the moon were broadcast live to an audience of millions, but it wasn’t until 2009 that NASA restored the grainy footage, releasing it online more recently as a short tribute montage, below. Read more about how the Apollo 11 team televised the historic moment in “1 Small Step for a Cam: How Astronauts Shot Video of the Moon Landing.”
The date is July 20, 1969. With minutes of fuel to spare, the astronauts of Apollo 11 are gliding across the surface of the moon, looking for a place to land. There’s just one problem: boulders strewn across the landscape prevent a quick touchdown.
Back in Houston, mission control is issuing periodic readouts of the spacecraft’s fuel status. The seconds tick by until Apollo 11 is running on fumes. The situation is urgent. If the astronauts can’t land, they’ll be stranded on the moon until they die, with millions following the broadcast live from earth.
As the astronauts frantically search for a landing zone, the health monitoring equipment linked to the men goes haywire. The chart you see above shows Buzz Aldrin’s EKG readout in the final moments before touchdown, which is marked by the long vertical line about three-fourths of the way through the graph. It’s a rare, alternative glimpse of a critical moment in history, preserved by TEDMED curator and Priceline.com founder Jay Walker in a vast library devoted to science, medicine, and history.
As we know, the astronauts landed safely and returned home. But for a few heartstopping seconds, anything could have happened — and this chart tells the tale.