In the early days of the Space Race, NASA had been upstaged by our Soviet enemies regularly, including the first ever “extra-vehicular activity” – an EVA or “spacewalk” – by cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on March 18, 1965. NASA hadn’t planned to do an EVA for some time, but it then became a priority. The next flight – Gemini 4 – would feature the first free man walking in space. It would be Ed White.
The full program plan is still being put together, but you won’t want to miss the interview I recorded with Gene Kranz, Apollo 11 lead flight director and former NASA Director of Flight Operations. I’m still trying to line up some other interviews, so help me out and keep your fingers crossed!
We’ll also play some mission audio from Apollo 11, plus have a discussion of the future of manned spaceflight including private ventures like SpaceX. Joining me this evening will be space program fans Doug Mataconis (@dmataconis) of Outside the Beltway, and Their Finest Hour‘s own Chris T. Rex (@crankytrex).
Please help keep the TFH & VLR lights on by buying some of these relevant products, including Gene Kranz’s own book!
For century upon century, to explore the Moon was considered the dream of the addle-brained or the foolhardy. Only divine beings or supermen could withstand the rigors and distance of such a journey. But then, early in the twentieth century, mortal humans went aloft on mechanical wings, defying gravity and redefining the realm of possibility. For ever after, the Moon became a goal within the grasp of those on Earth: for if man could build a machine to make him fly, he would eventually build one to take him to the Moon. When and how and who was only a matter of time.
From December of 1968 to December of 1972, twenty-four representatives of the human race voyaged to the Moon, and half as many walked upon its surface. In all, nine voyages across the quarter-million mile distance from Earthly safety to Lunar emptiness, each one of them dangerous and expensive. The requirements to make the voyage a reality were the qualities that make humankind unique: our desire to achieve, our wear-with-all and perseverance, our willingness to sacrifice time, energy, and even life in the long labor needed to solve the problems one by one over the course of the endeavor. Most important of all was humankind’s tendency to imagine things that are not possible. Imagining that it could be done was the very first step taken in the journey from the Earth to the Moon.