Thursday, July 18, 2019

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary

son Political Sphere at NASA
November 1986
on our first visit to Houston
Saturday is a big, historic celebration day for all mankind. But we’re in Houston, and it’s especially meaningful here. Johnson Space Center, or NASA, is where out-of-town guests most want to visit. We went there frequently during our homeschooling years. We’re hoping to take a grandson this coming week.

I remember July 20, 1969. I had just turned 11. It was a Sunday. The afternoon meeting at church usually lasted an hour and a half, but that day it was abbreviated to about twenty minutes, at which point we were sent home to experience history with our families.

Our black and white TV was on the rest of the day. We watched the occasional simulation, but waited what seemed endlessly for the historic moment. After long hours, past summertime bedtime, we watched what looked sort of like a fuzzy white ghost moving down a ladder to step onto the moon—where no human had ever stepped before.

And Neil Armstrong spoke his historic words:

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
There’s a description in the Spherical Model of what a thriving civilization looks like. One part of that description is:

Creativity abounds; enlightening arts and literature exceed expectations. Architecture and infrastructure improve; innovation and invention are the rule.
Putting a human being on the moon was a remarkable human accomplishment. So many things went right—which included a supportive public in a free world where creativity and innovation could thrive. It was a close race with the competitive communist Soviets. But it seems to me symbolically fitting that we, the free people, actual won the space race.

I’ve been celebrating the 50th anniversary in little ways all month. Reading things in the newspaper and online, making plans to do another tour. But this week has been especially fun watching a documentary series presented by Bill Whittle, entitled Apollo 11: What We Saw. So far there have been three parts, which can be either viewed or listened to as a podcast. But I recommend watching. The fourth one will be shown on Saturday, the actual 50th anniversary day.

Each is about an hour long, and well worth the time. The first is here, below, followed by links to the next two. If you hunt for them on your own, you can find them on YouTube and on The Daily Wire (whose studio was used for the production), as well as The Daily Wire’s Facebook page.

Among the rich delight of details are a couple of observations. One is that, while it seems miraculous in the days of slide rules that we could send men to the moon, each step along the way was only the next increment beyond the previous accomplishment, which the whole population (Bill Whittle even more than most) were paying attention to. Another is that the astronauts were an extraordinary bunch, who really did have "the right stuff." Success beat out failure more than once because of Neil Armstrong's beyond-normal-human ability to think and act calmly while under more stress than most of us will ever face.

It's a story worth retelling, and forever remembering.

Apollo 11: What We Saw

Part 1

Part 2: Find it here.

Apollo 11 Lunar Module
screenshot from What We Saw Part II

Part 3: Find it here

Buzz Aldrin, in perhaps the most famous photo in world history
screenshot from What We Saw Part III

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