If my grandfather were still alive I think that Catherine Thimmesh would have wanted to interview him for her book Team Moon. He was there at Cape Kennedy in Florida on the day that Apollo 11 was ready to launch. As a part of the NASA Art Program on July 16, 1969 he was the only artist asked to be present with the Apollo 11 astronauts as they ate breakfast, discussed the mission to the Moon and during the suiting up before the launch. He was one of the few people with these guys before they launched up to space.
For the 40th Anniversary of the Moon landing in 2009 my father wrote a book about my grandfather’s experiences going to Cape Kennedy and seeing launches of project Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. In the book it shows my grandfathers drawings and paintings including many of the Apollo 11 suiting up drawings. My grandfather was friends with many of the Apollo astronauts.
Here are three of his suiting up drawings done on July 16, 1969
This is a drawing of Astronaut Neil Armstrong Suiting Up on the morning of July 16, 1969 done by my grandfather.
In Parkes, Australia there was a large satellite dish that had a very important role in the space program. The people there had the job to broadcast one great leap to the world on television. It was a very important job and it was also very hard. During the time that they were going to broadcast winds were blowing form the South threatening to knock over the dish making it so that the millions and millions of viewers might not be able to see Neil Armstrong stepping foot on the Moon. They must have felt a lot of pressure and stress having the weight of showing the only images coming form the Moon to the world.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen that day. It started out as a days work and blossomed into something better. I was sure proud to be there, proud to be part of it.” Cliff Smith, Parkes Radio Telescope, Australia.
In 2000 there was a movie that came out in Australia that was a comedy about the role of the people in Parkes Australia.
People in every country huddled together watching the TV screen as this historic moment happened. People all over the world came together to experience the same event at the same moment. A plaque was left on the moon stating,
HERE MEN FROM PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
Team Moon has inspired me to think about the future of space travel. Michael Carroll, a science journalist, space artist and author or many books explains how a future goal is getting people to Mars. If it took 400,000 people to get us to the moon then I wonder how many it would take to get us to Mars. So far the Mars Curiosity, a 2.5 billion dollar robot is on Mars trying to find if Mars ever sustained life or can sustain life. I wonder if there will ever be a Team Mars where Americans come together with other countries and go to Mars and back.
Hundreds of thousands of people worked on the Apollo project. Each one of these people played a very very small part of a huge project that made a huge impact. In the end the project to land men on the moon couldn’t have gotten done without everyone coming together for the same goal and working a
While reading the book Team Moon I realized that the author had not added anything about the awesome Saturn V rocket that brought the astronauts to the Moon. I think that this is an important part of the story that should be mentioned and the people who helped make these rockets and develop them also deserve credit.
Astronaut Jack Lousma talks about the difference between the launch of the Saturn V rocket and the launch of the space shuttle. Lousma was a member of the second manned crew of the Skylab in 1973 and commanded the Space Shuttle STS-3 in 1983.
It took an army of people working at the Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama along with contractors at Boeing, North American aviation, IBM and others to build the Saturn V rocket which launched up into orbit and sent the astronauts into space.
Werner Von Braun and his team of rocket engineers created the designed the technology of the Saturn V rocket that flew into space.
The Saturn V rocket was 2840 tons and took about a million gallons of water pumped beneath the rocket into a flame trench, the engine exhaust hit the water on takeoff causing it to boil and turn into clouds of steam. The force of the rocket at takeoff was powerful enough to list 500 elephants! The ground must have shaken at this immense power and it must have been a thrilling experience to see and feel that moment. My father says that when he saw the liftoff of Apollo 17 from Cape Kennedy in 1972 that “you saw the smoke and ignition of the engines and there was a delay, then you heard the booming sounds and the earth shook.”
Vance Brand was a test pilot and NASA astronaut. He was commander of the joint US USSR space mission Apollo Soyuz and flew three Space Shuttle missions on STS-5, STS 41B and STS-35. He had some ideas that I think you might find interesting.
I think that everything that Vance Brand says relates to the book Team Moon. He talks about how everyone had a part to play. Big or small everyone had something to do that was important to the overall mission.
Brand says, “People had to think about what it would be like in space and what you would need. They had to look ahead to see what you would need.”
He also talks how people had to invent things to help us get to the Moon. Even the smallest piece of velcro had to be custom made and it all had to be invented and designed. Brand shares the same idea as Catherine Thimmesh , it took 400,000 people to all come together to create this big project. I wonder if there will ever be another huge event or project that takes place in the future, that brings people together to work for a common goal like these missions to the Moon. To get to the moon many agencies, companies, universities, and other organizations must have come together and brainstormed every possible problem that could occur on the Apollo Missions and then think of every possible solution.
Most people think that the first Earthrise photogrph from space was taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, this is not the case. Dave Scott, Apollo 15 Moonwalker told us an interesting historical fact. The first photograph of the earthrise from the Moon was taken robotically from a Soviet spacecraft in November 1968.
“To be a full-fledged member of the apollo 11 lunar Team meant that everyone (planners, builders, engineers, flight controllers, trainers, etc.) was well aware that the excellent photography would be, in the long run, mankind’s main connection with the greatest event in human history.” – Richard Underwood, chief of photgraphy
A current event during this time was that we were having a space race with the Soviet Union (Russia). We were trying to see which country could get men to the Moon first. In the end of this “race” we won.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and I feel that the astronauts pictures were worth much much more. It’s like going on vacation and bringing home photos that you want to show everyone, you show them the photos to help them visualize the place where you were. It was the same with the Apollo crew, but in this case they came home to earth to show the world their pictures.
NASA’s Dick Underwood said to the Apollo 11 crew, “your key to immortality is soley in the quality of you photographs. When the astronauts came home with these photographs people were astounded. These were pictures from out of our world and that made people feel amazed that these pictures came from that huge grey glowing ball in the sky that people gaze up at on a night without stars and until now thought was impossible to reach. And now mankind had gone and visited.
On page 53 in the book Team Moon it explains how the astronauts would come home and be heroes. Everyone who worked on the Apollo project would be so pleased that the project, their project was a success and that they helped get man to the moon and safely back home.
On the Moon the astronauts took pictures that were sent to NASA when they got back. Dick Underwood an aerospace technician was one of the people that tried to figure out how to debug the film and pictures and kill all the “Moon bugs” that were thought to have been brought back with the astronauts and everything they had. They “decontaminated” the films and quarantined the Apollo crew. I find this very interesting that they were concerned that there might have been Moon contamination on the astronauts and everything they had brought with them home from the Moon.