In the Spirit

 

where the sky is no limit

Rolf A. F. Witzsche



Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle in landing configuration in lunar orbit 
from the Command and Service Module Columbia
NASA

 

 Apollo 11 - Celebrating the first step



from the Earth to the Universe


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_17

Commader Eugene A. Cernan on the moon during Apollo 17 mission - NASA

 

The Apollo Project (1960 - 1972)

Thirteen Apollo missions were flown. On nine missions human beings have beheld the Earth as a planet in space. On six missions men have landed on the moon, between July 16, 1969 (Apollo 11) and December 7, 1972 (Apollo 17). The photographs above are from the first and last moon landing. The remaining missions were canceled during the Vietnam War. 

The last mission should remain in our heart as a celebration of the human spirit that once stood tall on its pinnacle of grand achievement, but not as a celebration of what once was and is no more, but as a celebration of what we are as human beings, and continue to be, and will celebrate again and again without end.


Apollo 17 on the transport crawler - NASA

The year 1972 was the last year when the Earth was seen from space as shown above. The final Apollo mission, Apollo 17, was launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972.


Liftoff Apollo 17 - NASA

When a dozen days later, on December 19, 1972, five days before Christmas, the Apollo-17 mission came to a close, mankind's long-cherished  dream -- that had come true, to be able to step forth from the Earth to explore the Universe -- came also to a close. It seemed that a bit of the human spirit had been quenched. When President Nixon cancelled the Apollo project a great blow was dealt to America. The moon landing achievement has never been repeated. It became a victim of a war that America had launched against itself in which the capability to go back became destroyed.  It has yet to be regained.

However, the value of what the Apollo missions have accomplished will never be destroyed. In 1969 an estimated 500 million people had witnessed mankind's first cautious step onto another celestial sphere outside of our own. For three years we (mankind) "owned' moon. We even brought a car along on the last missions to extend our range of exploration.


Left to right:  Apollo 17 astronauts Schmitt, Cernan (seated), Evans - NASA

 

In total, 12 people stood on the lunar surface. A whopping 2,415 samples of the moon's rocks and soils were collected, weighing 382 kg in total (842 lb). Most of the samples were collected by Apollo 15, 16, and 17

During this general timeframe (1969-1976) the Soviet Union landed 6  unmanned spacecraft on the moon. Of these, three missions (Luna 16, 20, and 24) returned with an additional 326 g (0.66 lb) of samples.  One (Luna 23) failed to return after collecting samples. Two other unmanned missions (Luna 17 and 21) had deployed rovers that traveled a total of 47.5 Km.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_landing

The difference in results between the two nation's efforts demonstrates the immense value of manned missions. Robots have their place, but the human being has a presence that provides a capability that no robot has. This difference defines mankind's future in space, and with it its future on the Earth for all times to come.

 

 


 


Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, BC, Canada - 2010  Rolf A. F. Witzsche

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