This story from Reuters (a.k.a al-Reuters) pretty much sums up what went wrong with our Nation’s space program – NASA actually can’t find their original data materials (tapes, etc.) from the first moon landing. I mean, why would one want to hang on to them anyway? Seriously, it was only the most important human achievement of the 20th Century, if not ever.
Of course, this probably shouldn’t be a surprise given NASA’s “back to the future” program to replace the Space Shuttle looks a lot like the Apollo spacecraft (which, IMO we should still be flying the third or fourth generation of already, much in the same way the Russians still fly Soyuz derivatives) – one might think that somebody at NASA with tons invested in Space Shuttle development would make us want to think: “Hey, we’ve never done it this way before.” I wonder if it’s possible to have “Not Invented Here” syndrome in an organization that did invent it here, 40 YEARS AGO.
Fortunately, and as the article notes, NASA does have plenty from the Apollo era, and much of it can be accessed from the “history” section of their Human Spaceflight site. I find the lunar surface journals particularly interesting, and they include many, many multimedia clips from the glory days of men on the moon. My particular favorite is on the Apollo 11 site here – scroll down in the transcript and listen to the audio clip that follows the entry at 102:36:46. The recording has the air-to-ground loop on one channel and the mission control loop on the other. It brings chills to my spine, and a whole lot of National pride, to hear flight director Gene “Failure is not an Option” Kranz poll the controllers for a go/no-go on the landing, followed by CAPCOM astronaut Charlie Duke radio up at 102:42:08, “Eagle, Houston. You’re GO for landing.”
Speaking of which, if you’ve never seen the HBO mini-series, “From the Earth to the Moon”, do so. It in its entirety should be required viewing in every high school U.S. history class.
“We choose to go to the moon…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.”
–President John F. Kennedy, 9/12/1962, Rice University, Houston,
I hope we make it back there, before the Chicomms get there in the first place.