Tag: Apollo 11

Sir David Attenborough.

There are not many who achieve so much, but Sir David most definately has!

This is our planet. It is the only one we have (stating the obvious!).

This beautiful photograph taken from the Apollo 11 mission says it all. That Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969 changed everything.

But one thing that was not on anyone’s mind then; the state of the planet!

This view of Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon was taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth’s Sea on the nearside. Coordinates of the center of the terrain are 85 degrees east longitude and 3 degrees north latitude.
While astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) “Columbia” in lunar orbit.
Image Credit: NASA

How that has changed since 1969.

David Attenborough is a giant of a man, and I say this out of humility and respect for what he has done in his long life, he was born in May, 1926, and he is still fighting hard to get us humans to wake up to the crisis that is upon us.

Wikipedia has an entry that lists all the television shows, and more, that David Attenborough has made. As is quoted: “Attenborough’s name has become synonymous with the natural history programmes produced by the BBC Natural History Unit.”

Please take 45 minutes and watch this film. It is so important.

But before you do please read this extract taken from this site about the film:

For decades David Attenborough delighted millions of people with tales of life on Earth, exploring wild places and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen.

Honest, revealing and urgent, the film serves as a witness statement for the natural world – a first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the jungles of central Africa, the North Pole and Antarctica. It also aims to provide a message of hope for future generations.

“I’ve had a most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary,” Sir David says in the film’s trailer, in which he also promises to tell audiences how we can “work with nature rather than against it”.

The film retraces Sir David’s career, his life stages and natural history films, within the context of human population growth and the loss of wilderness areas. “I don’t think that the theoretical basis for the reason why biodiversity is important is a widely understood one,” he told the Guardian in September.

This autumn, a series of publications warned that “humanity is at a crossroads” in its relationship with nature, culminating in a UN report that the world has failed to meet a single target to stop the destruction of nature in the past decade.

Sir David has been vocal about the threat of climate change in recent years, calling on politicians to take their “last chance” to act rather than continue to “neglect long-term problems”.

We need to learn how to work with nature, rather than against it”, according to Sir David. In the film, he is going to tell us how.

Now watch the film. Please!

As you can see, in the film Sir David states that the only way out of this mess is a massive focus on rewilding.

Coincidentally, Patrice Ayme last Sunday wrote about rewilding: California Grizzly: Rewilding Is A Moral Duty. In the latter half of that essay, he wrote: “One should strive to reintroduce American megafauna, starting with the more innocuous species (and that includes the grizzly). By the way, I have run and hiked in grizzly country (Alaska), with a huge bear pepper spray cannister at the ready. I nearly used the cannister on a charging moose (with her calf which was as big as a horse). The calf slipped off, and I eluded the mom through a thicket of very closely spaced tough trees. But I had my finger on the trigger, safety off. Moose attack more humans than grizzlies and wolves combined (although a bear attack is more dangerous). In any case, in the US, stinging insects kill around 100, deer around 200 (mostly through car collisions), and lightning around three dozen people, per year.

As it is, I run and hike a lot in California wilderness, out of rescue range. I generally try to stay aware of where and when I could come across bears, lions and rattlers. My last close call with a large rattlesnake, up a mountain slope, was partly due to hubris and not realizing I was moving in dangerous terrain. Fortunately I heard the slithering just in time. Dangerous animals make us aware of nature in its full glory, and the real nature of the human condition. They keep us more honest with what is real, what humanity is all about.

And that should be the primordial sense.

I will close by offering you this photograph. May it inspire you to rewild, in small ways and also, if you can, in bigger ways. All of us must be involved. Otherwise…

…otherwise… (sentence left unfinished).

In memory of Neil.

There will only ever be one Neil Armstrong.

Like millions of others on this planet, I was held spellbound by the historic and epic moment of man placing his mark on another heavenly body, the Moon.  I had been so wrapped up in NASA’s space missions that I took a holiday from work (I was working at the time for ICIANZ in Sydney, Australia) for the week of July 16th, 1969.

It was, of course, July 16th when the Apollo 11 Mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center culminating at precisely 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969, the moment when the Lunar Module made lunar contact.

But in terms of me writing my own obituary for Neil, what could I offer?

Then a couple of items changed my mind.

Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012)

The first was reading the obituary printed in The Economist.  I have long admired the many, many beautiful obituaries that have been published by this newspaper and this one was no exception.  Take this extract from the Neil Armstrong obituary,

He had an engineer’s reserve, mixed with a natural shyness. Even among the other astronauts, not renowned for their excitability, he was known as the “Ice Commander”. Mike Collins, one of his crew-mates on the moon mission, mused that “Neil never transmits anything but the surface layer, and that only sparingly.” He once lost control of an unwieldy contraption nicknamed the Flying Bedstead that was designed to help astronauts train for the lunar landing. Ejecting only seconds before his craft hit the ground and exploded, he dusted himself off and coolly went back to his office for the rest of the day. There was work to be done.

Then the beautiful words that bring the obituary to a close,

Earth’s beauty

Over half a century, the man who never admitted surprise was surprised to observe the fading of America’s space programme. The Apollo project was one of the mightiest achievements of the potent combination of big government and big science, but such enterprises came to seem alien as well as unaffordable. Mr Armstrong, who after his flight imagined bases all over the moon, sadly supposed that the public had lost interest when there was no more cold-war competition.

Yet the flights had one huge unintended consequence: they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds. His reserve, after all, was not limitless. One photograph showed him in the module after he and Buzz Aldrin had completed their moon-walk, kicking and jumping their way across the vast, sandy, silver surface towards the strangely close horizon. He is dressed in his spacesuit, sports a three-day beard, and is clearly exhausted. On his face is a grin of purest exhilaration.

” … they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds.”   For that reason alone, we need to celebrate the achievement of the Apollo 11 mission for putting our own planet into perspective within the enormity of the universe.

The second item that persuaded me to write this was a wonderful historic insight into how a potential catastrophy on the surface of the Moon would have been handled by President Nixon.  This historic item was published on Carl Milner’s blog the other day, the specific item being  What if the Moon Landing Failed?  Republished with the very kind permission of Carl.

What if the Moon Landing Failed?

Posted on September 1, 2012 by 

When Richard Nixon was the President of the United States, they had a speech ready for him to deliver to the world just in case the 1969 moon landing had ended in disaster. In fact many experts believed there was a big chance that Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin could have really gotten stuck on the moon. It’s something we don’t really think about now because we all know it was such a success. American Archives have unearthed the speech that would have been delivered if the late great Armstrong and Aldrin had never made it back to earth. This is such a great piece of history that I thought I might never see.

Give it a read, It’s such a moving and well prepared speech, and such a good thing that President Nixon never had to delivered it.

So, as with millions of others, I am delighted that this speech remained unspoken and instead we experienced: “At 5:35 p.m. (US EDT), Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. on July 24.

Neil Armstrong’s legacy is not only being part of the wonderful team that allowed man to make the first footprint on the Moon but also bringing into our human consciousness that this blue, wonderful planet we all live on is the only home we have.

First Full-View Photo of Earth
Photograph courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center
This famous “Blue Marble” shot represents the first photograph in which Earth is in full view. The picture was taken on December 7, 1972, as the Apollo 17 crew left Earth’s orbit for the moon. With the sun at their backs, the crew had a perfectly lit view of the blue planet.

Strikes me that celebrating July 20th each year as Blue Planet Day might not be a bad idea!  Any takers?  Now that would be a legacy for Neil!

Man on the moon

How many remember this?

Very early on in the life of this Blog, indeed on the second day, I wrote a short article about the NASA mission to the moon, some 40 years after the event.  You see, for me that has been the historic event of my lifetime.

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.

Apollo 11 badge

That speech before Congress by President Kennedy was on the 25th May, 1961.  I was 16 and was enthralled by the idea of being alive when man first set foot on another planetary body.  That came about on July 20th, 1969 at which time I was living and working in Sydney, Australia.  I took three days off work, rented a TV and watched every minute of the event.

Exploration is a core need of man.  By pushing out the boundaries of our knowledge we continue to offer hope to mankind.

So it is with great disappointment that it has been announced by President Obama that the manned mission programs to the moon are to be severely curtailed – that sounds terribly like political speak for cancelled!

As Eugene Cernan (last astronaut to set foot on the moon) said:

I’m quite disappointed that I’m still the last man on the Moon. I thought we’d have gone back long before now.
I think America has a responsibility to maintain its leadership in technology and its moral leadership… to seek knowledge. Curiosity’s the essence of human existence.

Curiosity is indeed the essence of human existence.

That curiosity and the investment in space exploration by NASA on behalf of the whole world has shown us some remarkable findings about Saturn and it’s majestic rings.  Just watch the video segments in this piece from the BBC.

The one-time cost of Cassini-Huygens mission was $3.26 billion. Just 0.3% of the cost of one year’s expenditure on U.S. defense spending.

Science missions like Cassini enhance cooperation between nations, and greatly contribute to scientific progress which benefits everyone.

Perhaps the big Banks would like to pick up the cost of further manned missions to the Moon?

By Paul Handover