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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Highlights of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo

In my post yesterday I mentioned the Anniversary of Apollo 7.  The thought dawned on me that many people of today may not be truly aware of the efforts of the space program and its accomplishments from the late 1950's until the early 1970's.  After World War II, during what many believe to be the golden age of mankind, the 1950's.  During the Administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower they dreamed up the plan of sending a man to the moon.

The program was mostly realized through the pushing by President John F. Kennedy, and his compulsion to compete with the Soviets beyond the building of nuclear warheads.

On April 12, 1961, a Soviet Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first person to fly in space.  This spurred President Kennedy to re double the United States efforts in getting a man into space and to win the race to the moon.  Probably prematurely he declared we would attempt to achieve this goal within the decade!

The following are pieces of a speech President Kennedy gave addressing Congress on May 25, 1961.
"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? ...
We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade 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 we intend to win ...
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there." Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."

Project Mercury ran from 1959 to 1963.  Its primary purpose was to put a man in orbit around the Earth.  February 20, 1962 Mercury –Atlas 6 achieved that goal!  The entire program consisted of 20 unmanned launches, 6 manned launches – 2 sub-orbital, 4 orbital with astronauts on board as pilots.  This Project laid the ground work for Project Gemini.
Project Gemini ran from 1962 to 1966.  Ten manned flights occurring between 1965 and 1966.  Its primary mission was to develop the procedures, equipment, technology and understanding for the upcoming Apollo programs.  They achieved missions long enough to travel to the moon and back, perfected the extra-vehicle activity (EVA)(which is working outside the space craft), orbital maneuvers for rendezvous and docking of space craft.  Edward White was the first astronaut to EVA in June of 1965.  All the Gemini flights were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Finally the Apollo Program which ran from 1961 – 1972.  They achieved their goal with Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module on the moon.  Michael Collins remained in Lunar orbit in the Command Spacecraft.  They all returned safely to Earth on July 24, 1969.
Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the moon, the last one was in December 1972.  Twelve men walked on the moon in six different space flights.  Resources were pulled from the Apollo Program in 1972 in effort to work on the Skylab project and to begin developing the Space Shuttle.  Highlights of Apollo were Apollo 8 was first to orbit the moon, Apollo 11 landing men on the moon, and Apollo 17, the last moon walk.
It dawns on me that with economy around the world in trouble, and when I read how many people were employed on the Apollo Program in the late sixties and how many different companies involved in some way with the production of parts of the program, that maybe it is time to re-start the space program.  Not NASA, but a joint world wide effort to get mankind off this planet and into space exploration and colonization of other worlds.  Some generation is going to have to start it at some point in our evolution on this planet.  With over population and not enough food supply for the planet right around the corner, it couldn't be a better time.
In paraphrasing Mr. Kennedy's Speech, we do it for NEW HOPES in Knowledge, PEACE, and Technological advancement!  We wind up our current wars expediently, and start an international effort at developing the following things:
1.  A cheap reusable means of getting into and out of space without massive throw away rockets being expended and dropped into the atmosphere with every launch.  This ship would have to land and take off like an airplane, be able to be reloaded, refueled and sent again and again over and over again.
2.  Build an Orbital Space Station for docking ships and building larger ships.
3.  Build a Moon Base, to maintain a crew of people on the moon, and be a way point between Earth and Beyond.
4.  Develop new engines and fuels, renewable food stores and water recovery systems.
While we are at it I think it would be a good time to get coal companies to take the lead in honestly developing clean energy for a specified period of time before countries convert to freely transmitting energy into the Earth's atmosphere for everybody to use as they want freely!  For car companies to develop gas free cars!  The oil companies can invest their outrageous fortunes into space exploration or the future energy sources of the world but inform them by such and such date except for what is used in auto racing the hoarding and selling petroleum based products for fuel is being shut down.
What else would you expect from a Science Fiction Writer than working towards Earthlings conquering the Galaxy!
Try one of my E-books if you like Science Fiction Stories with a military theme!
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38922/
   Whisper
A story of Wiley Randolph testing new technology for the Navy when an unexpected side effect transports the ship back in time.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85282/
   No Rules Of Engagement
The Macktonics, an Alien race, is going to be attacked by the Gators, another Alien Race.  They make arrangements with the United States to send an Army to protect the Macktonics in exchange for technology and resources.  The U.S. sends an Army of children to train for six years to be ready to fight when they get there.  Nothing ever turns out like it is planned!

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