46 years ago today, at 2018 UTC, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on another world. The Apollo program was breath-taking example of what motivated people can accomplish. Today I offer a selection of quotes from those who made the trip, and those who made the effort possible.
… the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward, and so will space.
John F. Kennedy
1962, Rice University
We are going to have failures. There are going to be sacrifices made in the program; we’ve been lucky so far. If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.
Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom
From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: ‘Tough’ and ‘Competent.’ Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write ‘Tough and Competent’ on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.
1967, after the Apollo 1 fire.
Go to Hell!
1968, when asked to perform non-engineering tasks during the flight.
No, it’s American cheese.
1968, when asked if the Moon was made of green cheese.
As you pass from sunlight into darkness and back again every hour and a half, you become startlingly aware how artificial are thousands of boundaries we’ve created to separate and define. And for the first time in your life you feel in your gut the precious unity of the Earth and all the living things it supports.
“Houston, this is Apollo 10. You can tell the world we have arrived.”
Thomas P. Stafford
1969, on arriving in lunar orbit.
This has been far more than three men on a mission to the Moon; more still than the efforts of a government and industry team; more, even, than the efforts of one nation. We feel this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown.
What the hell was that?
1969, after a lighting strike crashed the Command Module systems 37 seconds into the flight.
After the Apollo 13 recovery, Grumman Aerospace Corporation (designers and builders of the lunar module) sent a spoof invoice A441066 to North American Rockwell (designers and builders of the command and service modules) for towing the rest of Apollo 13 around the moon and home to Earth. The bill was written by people at Grumman’s Flight Control Integration Lab in 1970. It included towing at $4.00 first mile, $1.00 each additional mile, battery charge, oxygen and addition guest at $8.00/night. Water and baggage handling was free. A 20% commercial discount and 2% cash discount (net 30 days) resulting in a total of $312,421.24. Rockwell responded in a press conference that they still had not received payment for shipping four of Grumman’s LMs to the Moon.
When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.
When I look at the moon I do not see a hostile, empty world. I see the radiant body where man has taken his first steps into a frontier that will never end.
David R. Scott
I’m proud to be an American, I’ll tell you. What a program and what a place and what an experience.
It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.
It’s too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they’ll probably just piss it all away.
Buzzed by the Blues
The local airport is completely surrounded by the city, and this can be annoying (there’s no place in town free of aircraft noise), or advantageous. The advantage of the situation occurs when the annual airshow is held (also, annoying for those bothered by the usual noise), and good vantage points are free for the taking. The hot spot is along Cornell Rd. where it passes by the runway threshold and across the glide path. Not only can folks see the acts over the field, but view the airplanes at close proximity as they takeoff and land.
This time we got the Blue Angels for the first time in eight years. I had work scheduled every day of the show, but was able to catch the air demonstration practice on Thursday. A good view from the supermarket parking lot across the street, and I wasn’t the only one watching. I hadn’t seen a Blue Angels show since I lived in Seattle, and they’ve changed the show enough so that there were some new things to see. I’ll add that the show in Seattle is especially impressive in that it takes place over Lake Washington, and when the solo pilot does the high speed – low altitude pass, they actually kick up a wake behind the aircraft.
On the way home from work Friday, I was on Cornell Rd. passing the runway at the same time the Blues were taking off. Seeing four high-performance aircraft in tight formation that low was very cool, and also very LOUD.