Edited by Gerald Boerner
When our audacious young President, John F. Kennedy, took office in 1961, he indicated that he was going to point this country in a new direction. a few months later, he identified one of these new directions: landing men on the moon and return them to earth safely, before the end of the decade of the 1960s. This was a major challenge since we had only recently put an unmanned satellite into earth orbit. But we went about mobilizing our engineering, scientific, and manufacturing resources for the task.
These resources were brought together and achieved the goal. Two Apollo 11 astronauts successfully landed on the moon in 1969. They rejoined the third astronaut and returned to earth safely. Ironically, many of the details of this voyage of discovery bears many of the specs written by Jules Verne in his novel From the Earth to the Moon which was published in 1865!
The real-life Apollo program bears similarities to the story in several ways:
- Verne’s cannon was called Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module (Apollo CSM) was named Columbia.
- The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in the book and each Apollo mission.
- The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.
- Verne’s voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (Verne correctly states in the book that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched towards the zenith of a particular location, and that the zenith would better line up with the moon’s orbit from near the Earth’s equator. In the book Florida and Texas compete for the launch, with Florida winning.)
- The cost of the program in the book ($12.1 billion US in 1969 dollars) is almost similar to the total cost of the Apollo program until Apollo 8 $14.4 billion US dollars)
- Both the spacecraft in the book and all Apollo craft were recovered by U.S. Navy ships.
- Verne peculiarly describes the projectile of the Columbiad as made of aluminium, instead of steel that would have been usual for the time. Columbia was built mainly of aluminum alloys.
But, let’s get on with our exploration of the Apollo program… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 4059 Words ]
Quotations Related to APOLLO:
“He who commands an Apollo flight will not command a second one.”
— Wally Schirra
“At this point in my career, Apollo 13 is a million light years away.”
— Kathleen Quinlan
“Some of the wives didn’t keep up with the program. It started breaking apart during the Apollo days.”
— Wally Schirra
“Kennedy had made a mess in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. He had to do something to look good. The Apollo program of going to the Moon was quite a goal.”
— Wally Schirra
“I grew up watching a lot of the coverage of the early U.S. space program, all the way back starting with Mercury and then through Gemini and Apollo and of course going to the moon as the main part of the Apollo program.”
— Linda M. Godwin
“Apollo 13, as you may remember, gave us a reactor that is bubbling away right now somewhere in the Pacific. It’s supposed to be bubbling away on the moon, but it’s in the Pacific Ocean instead.”
— David R. Brower
“I think I was very interested in the space program as a kid, watching the first Apollo missions to the moon, and it’s something I thought that would be a lot of, of fun and exciting and a very worthwhile job.”
— Mark Kelly
“The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited.”
— Neil Armstrong
Apollo Program: John F. Kennedy calls for Men on Moon…
The Apollo program was the United States spaceflight effort which landed the first humans on Earth’s Moon. Conceived during the Eisenhower administration and conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Apollo began in earnest after President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 address to Congress declaring his belief in a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon" by the end of the decade in a competition with the Soviet Union for supremacy in space.
This goal was first accomplished during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969 when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six Apollo spaceflights, 12 men walked on the Moon. These are the only times humans have landed on another celestial body.
The Apollo program ran from 1961 until 1975, and was America’s third orbital human spaceflight program (following Mercury and Gemini). It used Apollo spacecraft and Saturn launch vehicles, which were also used for the Skylab program in 1973–74, and a joint U.S.–Soviet mission in 1975. These subsequent programs are thus often considered part of the Apollo program.
The program was successfully carried out despite two major setbacks: the 1967 Apollo 1 launch pad fire that killed three astronauts; and an oxygen tank rupture during the 1970 Apollo 13 flight which disabled the Command Module. Using the Lunar Excursion Module as a "lifeboat", the three crewmen narrowly escaped with their lives, thanks to their skills and the efforts of flight controllers, project engineers, and backup crew members.
Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit; Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology incidental to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo also sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Its command modules and other objects and artifacts are displayed throughout the world, notably in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museums in Washington, DC and at NASA’s centers in Florida, Texas and Alabama. The Apollo 13 Command Module is housed at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Apollo program was conceived early in 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, as a follow-up to America’s Mercury program. While the Mercury capsule could only support one astronaut on a limited earth orbital mission, the Apollo spacecraft was to be able to carry three astronauts on a circumlunar flight and eventually to a lunar landing. The program was named after the Greek god of light and music by NASA manager Abe Silverstein, who later said that "I was naming the spacecraft like I’d name my baby." While NASA went ahead with planning for Apollo, funding for the program was far from certain given Eisenhower’s ambivalent attitude to manned spaceflight.
In November 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president after a campaign that promised American superiority over the Soviet Union in the fields of space exploration and missile defense. Using space exploration as a symbol of national prestige, he warned of a "missile gap" between the two nations, pledging to make the U.S. not "first but, first and, first if, but first period." Despite Kennedy’s rhetoric, he did not immediately come to a decision on the status of the Apollo program once he became president. He knew little about the technical details of the space program, and was put off by the massive financial commitment required by a manned Moon landing. When Kennedy’s newly-appointed NASA Administrator James Webb requested a 30 percent budget increase for his agency, Kennedy supported an acceleration of NASA’s large booster program but deferred a decision on the broader issue.
On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly in space, reinforcing American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. At a meeting of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics one day after Gagarin’s flight, many congressmen pledged their support for a crash program aimed at ensuring that America would catch up. Kennedy, however, was circumspect in his response to the news, refusing to make a commitment on America’s response to the Soviets. On April 20, Kennedy sent a memo to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, asking Johnson to look into the status of America’s space program, and into programs that could offer NASA the opportunity to catch up. Johnson responded approximately one week later, concluding that "we are neither making maximum effort nor achieving results necessary if this country is to reach a position of leadership." His memo concluded that a manned Moon landing was far enough in the future that it was likely the United States would achieve it first.
On May 25, 1961, Kennedy announced his support for the Apollo program during a special address to a joint session of Congress:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
—John F. Kennedy
At the time of Kennedy’s speech, only one American had flown in space—less than a month earlier—and NASA had not yet sent an astronaut into orbit. Even some NASA employees doubted whether Kennedy’s ambitious goal could be met. Kennedy even came close to agreeing to a joint US-USSR moon mission, to eliminate duplication of effort.
Landing men on the Moon by the end of 1969 required the most sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources ($24 billion), ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities. However, Kennedy repeated his challenge in a more famous speech at Rice University more than a year later in September, 1962, by which time two Americans had already orbited the Earth in the Mercury program. In the speech, Kennedy said:
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too …
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there." Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.
—John F. Kennedy, Speech at Rice University
Excerpt from May 25th Speech
Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.
I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.
Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.
I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.
Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.
Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars–of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau–will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.
Let it be clear–and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make–let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62–an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.
It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.
New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further–unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.
Legacy of the Apollo Program
Science and Engineering
The Apollo program, specifically the lunar landings, has been called the greatest technological achievement in human history. The program stimulated many areas of technology. The flight computer design used in both the lunar and command modules was, along with the Minuteman Missile System, the driving force behind early research into integrated circuits. The fuel cell developed for this program was the first practical fuel cell. Computer-controlled machining (CNC) was pioneered in fabricating Apollo structural components.
The crew of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, sent televised pictures of the Earth and the Moon back to Earth (left), and read from the creation story in the Biblical book of Genesis, on Christmas Eve, 1968, This was believed to be the most widely watched television broadcast until that time. The mission and Christmas provided an inspiring end to 1968, which had been a bad year for the U.S., marked by Vietnam War protests, race riots, and the assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy.
An estimated one-fifth of the population of the world watched the live transmission of the first Apollo moonwalk.
One legacy of the Apollo program is the now-common view of Earth as a fragile, small planet, captured in photographs taken by the astronauts during the lunar missions. The most famous, taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts, is The Blue Marble (right). These photographs have also motivated some people toward environmentalism.
Many astronauts and cosmonauts have commented on the profound effects that seeing Earth from space has had on them; the 24 astronauts who traveled to the Moon are the only humans to have observed Earth from beyond low Earth orbit, and have traveled farther from Earth than anyone else to date.
Apollo 11 Broadcast Data Restoration Project
As part of Apollo 11′s 40th anniversary in 2009, NASA spearheaded an effort to digitally restore the existing videotapes of the mission’s live televised moonwalk. After an exhaustive three-year search for missing tapes of the original video of the Apollo 11 moonwalk, NASA concluded the data tapes had more than likely been accidentally erased.
We’re all saddened that they’re not there. We all wish we had 20-20 hindsight. I don’t think anyone in the NASA organization did anything wrong, I think it slipped through the cracks, and nobody’s happy about it.
—Dick Nafzger, TV Specialist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Moon landing data was recorded by a special Apollo TV camera which recorded in a format incompatible with broadcast TV. This resulted in lunar footage that had to be converted for the live television broadcast and stored on magnetic telemetry tapes. During the following years, a magnetic tape shortage prompted NASA to remove massive numbers of magnetic tapes from the National Archives and Records Administration to be recorded over with newer satellite data. Stan Lebar, who designed and built the lunar camera at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, also worked with Nafzger to try to locate the missing tapes.
So I don’t believe that the tapes exist today at all. It was a hard thing to accept. But there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence that led us to believe that they just don’t exist anymore. And you have to accept reality.
—Stan Lebar, Lunar Camera Designer, Westinghouse Electric Corporation
With a budget of $230,000, the surviving original lunar broadcast data from Apollo 11 was compiled by Nafzger and assigned to Lowry Digital for restoration. The video was processed to remove random noise and camera shake without destroying historical legitimacy. The images were from tapes in Australia, the CBS News archive, and kinescope recordings made at Johnson Space Center. The restored video, remaining in black and white, contains conservative digital enhancements and did not include sound quality improvements.
Please take time to further explore more about Apollo Program, Human
Spaceflight, Astronaut, Apollo Spacecraft, Saturn (Rocket Family), NASA,
and National Air and Space Museum by accessing the Wikipedia articles
referenced below. In most cases, the text in the body of this post has
been selectively excerpted from the articles; footnotes and hyperlinks
have been removed for readability…
Other Events on this Day:
The Constitutional Convention opens in Philadelphia after reaching a quorum of seven states.
Playing for the Boston Braves, “Sultan of Swat” Babe Ruth hits the final three home runs of his career in a game against the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, bringing his career total to 714 homers. The Babe’s record will hold for nearly four decades, until Hank Aaron breaks it in 1974.
In a speech before a joint session of Congress, President John F. Kennedy challenges the American people to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. Kennedy’s goal will be realized with the lunar landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, more than five years after the president’s assassination.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated.
Moviegoers are transported to a galaxy far, far away when George Lucas’ Star Wars opens in U.S. theaters. Not coincidentally, May 25 is now celebrated as Geek Pride Day in numerous countries around the world.
The Phoenix spacecraft lands on Mars to search for evidence of microbial life in its soil.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Apollo Program…
Wikipedia: Human Spaceflight…
Wikipedia: Apollo Spacecraft…
Wikipedia: Saturn (Rocket Family)…
Wikipedia: National Air and Space Museum…
JFK Library: Excerpt from an Address Before a Joint Session of Congress, 25 May 1961…
Brainy Quote: APOLLO Quotes…
Other Posts on related Topics:
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Sputnik and the Emergence of the US Space Program…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: President Eisenhower Creates NASA…