Edited by Gerald Boerner



JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumbAmerica was challenged by its new, young President, John F. Kennedy, who at his inauguration called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the 1960s. This was a major escalation of the space race that began when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I in 1957. The scientific, engineering, and manufacturing resources of America was directed towards this goal. I remember the pride that I felt when that first man stepped onto the lunar surface.

APOLLO 204 CREW TMH 01/27/2011

This quest to conquer space was not always successful. Launch vehicles failed, New technological solutions needed to be tweaked. scores of personnel needed to be trained. And a whole new science, telemetry, had to be developed. There were accidents happened; the worst of these occurred when three astronauts died in their command module of the Apollo 1 in 1967. The was a major, if temporary setback for the program.

But this problem was solved and man eventually did walk on the moon. We did achieve the goal presented to us by that President whose life was also lost to an assassin. You should check out my series on the Space Race; it is found under the “Emerging Technologies” menu tab. Many different developments needed to come together to accomplish this great goal.

When we look back at the contributions of the space program during the 1960s, we see amazing strides being made. I was in college at that time and saw these changes all around me. Living in Downey, California, put me near the nerve center of these advances, since North American Autonetics was just down the street. This was the company that designed and built the Apollo module. The computer brains behind the engineering and programming the onboard avionics for many of these missions. Much of the liquid Oxygen was generated in nearby Ontario and transported across the country by the trucking company I worked for during graduate school.


At the beginning of the decades of the 1960s, computers were the devices that engineers operated. By the end of the 1960s, these devices became both more powerful and easier for the non-engineer to operate. At the beginning of the decade, telecommunications meant the telephones connected to AT&T, but by the end of the decade the first IMP (Internet Message Processor) had been delivered to UCLA, SRI, and the UC Santa Barbara campuses to test out the primitive ARPAnet that became the Internet two decades later. At the beginning of the decade found medical monitoring done with a stethoscope by a doctor, but by the end of the decade we had remote monitoring capability that allowed Mission Control to monitor the vital signs for astronauts in space. And, at the beginning of the decade computer-controlled systems required direct, hand-on manipulation while at the end of the decade new instructions could be sent the space vehicles hundreds of miles away. This was real progress brought about by the space program under NASA’s oversight.

Yes, on that terrible day in January of 1967 we lost three well-trained, good men in that capsule fire aboard the Apollo I module. But our space program was fortunate that these were the only deaths that we experienced during a decade of monumental progress. We don’t know how many, if any, Soviet cosmonauts were lost during their space program development; the Soviet’s maintained a closed society where any such losses were probably hidden to outsiders. We paid a small price for our successful landing on the moon.

But now its time to start our exploration of the Apollo 1 Program... GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

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Quotations Related to Apollo:

[ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/apollo.html ]


“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

“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

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