@jbatispte
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2021-08-05 08:22:41

    50 years ago… USS Okinawa - Apollo 15 Moon Book
    August 7, 1971 Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot (CMP) Alfred Worden is seen exciting the “Endeavour” Command module capsule after splas
    h down in the North Pacific Ocean, after which the crew was recovered on board Navy carrier USS Okinawa.
    The book pictured is the official US Navy cruise book as USS Okinawa was the primary recovery ship. The Apollo 15 were the first to use a battery-powered Lunar Rover and the first to leave an artwork on the lunar surface, an Aluminium “Fallen Astronaut” figurine desinged by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck and commemorated all astronauts & cosmonauts who died on a spaceflight mission up to 1971.
    David Scott wore his Bulova chronograph while Alfred Worden and James Irwin still wore their NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster.
    (Photo: MoonWatc
    hUniverse)

    Organizing the tools. Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott picks a drill off the lunar surface, July 1971. Notice the red stripes on his helmet & suit. From Apollo 13 onward, Commanders of Apollo missions had stripes on their helmet, arms & legs. This helped differentiate them from the Lunar Module Pilots on the mission. A15 was the 1st J Mission which involved longer 3-day stays on the moon. It was also the 1st mission with the Lunar Rover & Mr. Scott became the 1st to drive on the moon.

    Some Lunar Rambling

    Sometimes, I daydream about 1969, when humanity first walked on our planet’s moon.

    it must have been strange, being one of those 3 astronauts, on Apollo 11. On a mission to a moon, the moon, our moon. 

    only 12 years before,

    in 1957, Sputnik 1 breached our planet’s atmosphere and entered orbit, did humans first send something they had touched, that they had created, beyond their home planet.

    image

    [ID: a black and white photograph of a technician putting the finishing touches on Sputnik 1′s wiring. Sputnik 1 and the Technician, who is wearing a white lab coat, stand out against the pitch black background. The Technician has his head bent in concentration, hands busy with his task.]

    Sputnik is a Russian word, meaning “fellow traveller”. Sputnik was the first piece of ourself - of humanity- that reached space, and that didn’t travel onearth, on our home planet, where humanity and humanity’s ancestors and the ancestors of humanity’s ancestors had spent

    every single moment of existence,

    every birth and every death, every memory, every breath in and out, every heartbeat and blink, where we’d spent every bit of time living.

    No, instead of traversing the galaxy on Earth, no, Sputnik now traveled alongside Earth. 

    Us humans, we’ve always wonders if something, someone else, was out there, in the wide galaxy. We’ve always wondered, after so much time looking for anyone, anything- Were we truely alone? 

    While we still had not encountered anything not from our own planet, with Sputnik, “fellow traveller”, orbiting us, there was something else out there. Humanity was no longer alone.

    only 15 years before,

    in 1954, were colour tvs introduced to consumers. All of the people on that ship had grown up watching things in black in white (if they watched at all) and now they were on a trip toEarth’s Moon. 

    Humanity’s first step on the moon was broadcast live from a camera attached to the Lunar Module, still in black in white, to save power and bandwidth. 

    There was a colour camera back up in the Command Module, still in orbit, but it was a much more delayed broadcast, and of course, wasn’t as close to the action as the one down below was.

    image

    [ID: a grainy, black and white image of Neil Armstrong stepping off the final rung of the Lunar Module’s ladder, taken from the live broadcast in 1969.]

    Around the world, millions of people gathered in front of television sets. 650 million people held their breath in anticipation, as they watched Neil Armstrong take mankind’s first small step on the moon. 

    It became an often asked question, after that fateful day, “Where were you when man first walked on the moon?” 

    My mother has told me many times before of her memories of the whole thing. She was 5, in France. A teacher brought his home television and wheeled it into a long corridor (it was the only place that could fit everyone), and they watched it live together. My father- always the exception to the rule - shrugged me off,  told me he didn’t really remember, then, amusingly, going on to recount watching the broadcast that officially declared JFK dead in 1963. 

    We made it to our moon before we could handle streaming colour television live. The phones we have in our pockets today are quite literally millions of  times more powerful then the computer on Apollo 11. Even a cheap pocket calculator out-performs that thing in terms of computing power. 

    And we used it to get to the moon.

    image

    [Id: 2 engineers in white button downs and dark slacks stand in the middle of a room, surrounded by a large machine with panels, switches and buttons all over. One of the engineers leans over, hands holding a piece of paper that feeds into the machine. The other, standing a pace behind the first, writes notes on a clipboard as he observes. This photo is of Apollo 11’s computer as it’s being tested in Masechusetts prior to the mission to the moon.]

    only 66 years ago,

    in 1903, did the Wright Brothers Orville and Wilbur first take to the skies with powered flight. 66 yearsis in living memory. There were countless people that had been alive, could even remember, when the Wright brothers made their legendary leap into the big blue above with wood-and-canvas wings, with a commissioned engine and a dream. Before then, there were countless other attempts at human flight.

    image

    [ID: A white and black photograph of the Wright Brother’s first powered, controlled, sustained airplane flight in history. The canvas-and-wood plane has just touched off the ground, which is sandy and flat in every direction as it fades into the fog. Orville is piloting the contraption, lying on the plane’s lower wing in the cradle which controls the wings. Wilbur stands aside the contruct, facing towards it, having just let go after running alongside the plane while it was taking off to help keep it’s balance.]

    And barely more then 6 and a half decades later, a spaceship with ceramic shielding and metal bones escapes the Earth’s gravity and makes it to our moon.

    Can you imagine being 1 of those 3 astronauts that went to the moon? To be 1 of the only 3 people in the world to have gone to the moon? To have left footprints and a mirror there, or to have manned the Command Module while your fellow astronauts gathered moon rocks below? To have them return, space suits covered in moon dust? To know so little about the moon, that when you return to earth, you don’t come back to a celebration of your return, you’re  quarantined for a few weeks following the trip, just in case you picked up some lunar pathogen. To have seen an ‘earthrise’, as NASA coined it, our entire world made small.

    image

    [ID: an ‘earthrise’. A picture of the earth taken from the moon.]

    650 million live viewers, thats how many watched Neil Armstrong take that step. 

    I think about how humanity came together that July 20th, in 1969. Not only in the moment with is many people tuning in (650 million live viewers is still a number that would be mind-boggling to reach, even today, in the age of the internet and video streaming.) - but also before hand, through the veil of time - months, years, decades of effort leading up to that one historic moment. The work done by the software designers, the engineers, the scientists. How fast the technology changed, within the span of a single life-time.

    Nowadays, we live in a life that is even more ever-changing then before, and I feel like we’re a bit too used to it. 
    Sure, not every milestone is as memorable or as clear as the Moon Landing, but even look at things like VR technology - didn’t used to something only in sci-fi? And now you can buy a pretty good headset for like, $200. We have machines like google home and Alexa that take commands by voice, again, something out of sci-fi. The internet connects billions of us together, and science is only moving faster.

    I guarantee, humanity will reach mars within my life (though the merits of that considering the context surrounding the push for mars are debatable), and we will walk on the Moon in our first time visiting since 1972. We’ll be able to have the first of Womankind take steps on the moon. 

    My dream has always been to be an astronaut, and visit our moon. Leave my footprints there as a see Earth from a view I’d only even seen in photographs. Of course, it’s just wishful thinking, I’m not likely to ever go to the moon, even if me admitting that makes my heart ache. I think I feel this strongly, because to me, it represents the best of humanity. 

    Getting a human to the moon was the hardest, most drawn out, arduous team project in history. And every time I think about it, dispute the endlessly deep melancholy I feel with the knowledge I’m not likely to ever see my planet from afar in person, and the ever-looming reminders of our carelessness driving a toll on the integrity of our planet’s ecosystem…. it gives me a spark of hope.

    Of pride.

     For everything we’ve accomplished as a collective.

    I’m glad that I, and everyone else out, there can look back on moments like these, just to feel that warm fuzzy feeling, of being proud of what we can achieve. Human’s aren’t inherently evil. Not everything is terrible and awful all of the time. We’ve come so far, taking a moment to look back… well, it’s a different world.

    And for the finale of this post that’s so unlike everything else I’ve ever written, I’d like to draw your attention towards this last photo of Mission Control after the 3 men aboard the mission returned home safe and sound, in all it’s cheesy patriotic glory. 

    image

    We’re capable of amazing things, us creatures, when we work together.