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.
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.
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.
It was interesting to read in the book Team Moon that it took roughly 500 people to work over several years between NASA and ILC Dover to create the Apollo astronauts space suits. James McBarron said, “The space suit in itself is probably a little more than half engineering and the rest art. And by art I mean there was a series of trial and error attempts that led to the successful design.” I think that this showed that the people at NASA and ILC Dover had to get creative while making the suits because they didn’t know what they would find on the Moon, whether the space hazards were dangerous or not.
I asked my father to ask Apollo 12 Astronaut Dick Gordon if the space suits were comfortable and he said “NO”, with a laugh. He said they were hot, stuffy and bulky but once they were in orbit they hardly realized that they were uncomfortable.
Here is a really cool article on the evolution on space suits from National Geographic.
Joe Schmitt was a legendary suit technician at NASA who suited up Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard for the first manned flight of an American to go into Space. My father received a letter from Mr Schmitt where he spoke about the time he spent with American artist Norman Rockwell while Rockwell was working on a painting of Gemini astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young. NASA would not send the space suit that Rockwell had wanted as reference for his painting but they did agree to have Joe Schmitt accompany a space suit to Rockwell’s studio in Massachusetts. Here is what Joe Schmitt wrote to my father-
“I would recommend Margaret Rockwell’s Norman Rockwell Chronicles of America, as a reference. I spent a week at his studio while he was painting the picture of Gus Grissom and John Young being suited up for the Gemini III flight, (page 114). Your father and Rockwell were both very precise on details in their paintings. For example, Mr. Rockwell noticed the suit room countdown clock on one of his photos and asked me what time would be showing on the clock while we were at that stage in suiting. I told him it would be approximately -153:45 if there were no holds on launch time. Also in the Rockwell book on page 115 is the apollo 11 crew. the guy in the white cap is me) This was an exciting and important time in America’s Space Program.”
This is a painting by Norman Rockwell showing the apollo 11 astronauts and NASA workers and workers from the different companies that helped get us achieve the ultimate victory of making it to the Moon.
I have been inspired by Catherine Thimmesh, the author of Team Moon and I am going to interview some of the Apollo astronauts and people who were part of the Apollo program. Like the people in the book these people will be talking about their experiences and how they felt at the time of the Apollo Missions. Others will be talking about future space travel plans farther than the Moon like to Mars.
Stay tuned, I will have answers to questions that many of you will find interesting posted next week.
I have a personal connection to everything in this book. You may be thinking, why is this?
Well, my grandfather Paul Calle was an artist and he was chosen as one of the very first eight artists to join the NASA Art program. He made amazing space paintings and drawings during the 1960’s. The artwork he created is a part of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
My grandfather also designed the First Man on the Moon postage stamp for the United States in 1969. This stamp went to the moon with the astronauts and I feel very honored to know that my grandfather’s artwork went up to the Moon. My grandfather was with the astronauts of Apollo 11 sketching them while they were suiting up for going to the Moon. He was there at that historical event when the Apollo 11 rocket went up and flew into space on it’s long, far journey to the Moon.
My grandfather also made amazing western art. My father is also an equally amazing artist as my grandfather was. I find it very interesting and exciting reading this book and seeing many of my grandfather’s own paintings while looking on the internet for subjects about space!
I think that this personal connection that I have with the book, Team Moon makes me understand it more and truly get interested in space exploration.
When most people think of the Project Apollo Moon Landings they remember the famous photographs of the people like Neil Armstrong and the other Apollo astronauts walking on the Moon. If this is all you know then you are not getting the entire picture of how we went to the Moon and the many people all over the country who helped and worked behind the scenes during the Apollo Missions to get the astronauts there.
The book, Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh talks about some of these people and in their own words we learn about their jobs and lives and how they were part of the thousands and thousands of workers who helped to achieve man’s greatest accomplishment of sending men to the moon and returning them safely to the Earth.