July 24, 1969: Splashdown

Waking up at 6:47 AM Eastern Daylight Time, the crew made final preparations for reentry.  At 12:21 PM the Command Module separated from the Service Module.  Columbia entered the Earth’s atmosphere four minutes later.  Columbia splashed down 950 miles southwest of Honolulu and 15 miles from their recovery ship, USS Hornet. Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin were home, their mission completed.

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April 26, 1962: Ranger 4 Crashes Into Moon

 

The US Space Program had several rocky moments in its early years, and so it was with Ranger 4.  Launched on April 23, 1962, its trip to the Moon was flawless.  After entering a lunar orbit,  a malfunction caused telemetry to cease, and the capsule to become unresponsive to commands. Ranger 4 crashed into the darkside of the Moon on April 26, 1962.  And thus the first American spacecraft reached a celestial object.  As always, NASA learned from the failure, with a successful lunar mission by Ranger 7 in 194.

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March 16, 1926: Robert Goddard Launches First Liquid Fueled Rocket

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSIq1XsdUqA

 

 

 

How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem, I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for “aiming at the stars”, both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.

Robert Goddard to H.G. Wells, 1932

 

 

 

A very humble beginning to the Space Age 96 years ago, courtesy of Doctor Robert Goddard:

March 17, 1926. The first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn…. Even though the release was pulled, the rocket did not rise at first, but the flame came out, and there was a steady roar. After a number of seconds it rose, slowly until it cleared the frame, and then at express train speed, curving over to the left, and striking the ice and snow, still going at a rapid rate. (more…)

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Apollo 11 Press Conference

The post flight press conference of Apollo 11 conducted on August 12, 1969.

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July 23, 1969: Preparing for Landing

 

Fifty years ago was a relatively quit day on Columbia as the crew prepared for the splash down the next day.  It gave the astronauts time to contemplate the remarkable events they had been through, something that was mentioned in the telebroadcast from Columbia on July 23.

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July 22, 1969: Heading Home

On July 22, 1969 the engines of the Columbia were fired to begin the trip back to Earth, the Columbia leaving lunar orbit with a speed of 3600 miles per hour.  About 15 hours later a mid course correction was made to keep the Columbia on track back to Earth.

 

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July 20, 1969: I am the Vine and You are the Branches

In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare [sic], the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements. And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”

Edward Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin

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July 19, 1969: In Orbit Around the Moon

Fifty years ago Columbia arrived at the Moon.  As the craft passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit.  Thirty orbits of the Moon followed, with the crew getting ready for the landing of The Eagle next day, and making visual inspection of the Southern Sea of Tranquility where the landing was scheduled to take place.  The Americans were not alone as they orbited the moon.  The Soviet Lunar 15 was also orbiting the Moon.  An unmanned craft, the Soviets hoped to land it on the Moon, take samples of soil from the Moon, and then have it fly back to Mother Russia, and steal some of the luster from the American achievement.  The Space Race had begun as a product of the Cold War, and it was ending in the same fashion.

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July 18, 1969: Entering the Gravity of the Moon

Fifty years ago Apollo 11 entered the gravity well of the Moon from the gravity well of the Earth.  Three-quarters of the way to the Moon, the speed of Columbia had slowed to 2000 miles per hour.  An expected course correction was not needed as the Columbia was right on target to go into Lunar Orbit.  The crew inspected the landing craft Eagle, and were pleased to report that the Eagle was in good shape suffering no ill effects.  The astronauts turned in at 10:00 PM.  They would need all the rest they could wrest from excitement and adrenaline.

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Fifty Years

 

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the Space mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it amusing.)

 

Hattip to commenter Dale Price.  My motto has always been:  “Slay all the Lunies, and let God sort ’em out!”

Published in: on March 3, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Fifty Years  
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