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.
Andrew Chaikin, Apollo author and historian talks about the future of space exploration and how he feels quite possibly that there is life on other planets. He talks about how he would not want to go to Mars because of how it’s a 3 year round trip there and back. He says he is fascinated with Mars though and the possibility that in the past Mars may have had life. Andy said that he would like to go to the Moon. He always thought of going to the Moon when he was young because he wanted to see what the Earth was like from the Moon or from space. Seeing the Earth from Space for me would be amazing because I would be staring at that little blue marble millions of miles away. I would be knowing that everyone that I know and all the people that I don’t know and my house and family is there so far away that it seems like a light year away.
Chaikin talks about a gentlemen from England who was hired by NASA to make a zipper for the space suits. I feel that he speaks about how the Apollo team was a huge team effort. There were tons of people that you’ve never heard about and probably never will hear about. Andy had the same idea as the book Team Moon that there are many unsung heroes of the Apollo space missions.. You could do a ton of research on the Apollo project and yet not hear about thousands of peoples stories. I suppose everyone who worked on the space program has an interesting story to tell and they have only passed their story on to a few people.
This is a drawing my father did for the 40th Anniversary of the final Apollo Moon mission, Apollo 17, it shows Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon.
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.
I gave my father some questions to ask Dick Gordon when he went to Spacefest. Gordon was a pilot of Gemini 11 alongside Pete Conrad and command module pilot for Apollo 12, the second Apollo mission to land on the Moon. He spoke about how he and the rest of his crew met with the people from each of the manufacturers of the various parts of the spacecraft, space suits, rocket engineers and all the different workers working on various projects related to getting to the Moon.
They met with these people as a way to keep morale up. They wanted to set the point that their lives were in the hands of these people. Dick proves a point that the book made that everyone had a part in this project, big or small that mattered because even the smallest job was vital to the mission.
“Well President Kennedy wanted to be first on the moon, and all the ladies were very tuned in to that. Everyone was very proud of what they were doing, and everyone pulled their own weight-and if they had to, they would pull a little of someone else’s. We wanted to get it done, and we were happy and proud to be there” –Eleanor Foracker, ILC Dover seamstress quoted on page 67. I think that she was trying to say that everyone worked very hard and everyone came together for an equal goal, to get us to the Moon. I think that she was also trying to say that if someone needed help working for the NASA program they weren’t left alone, they were helped so that everyone could do their share to get us to the Moon.