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Monday, July 20, 2009

When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.


I am a bit of a space geek. While I never launched model rockets, or memorized constellations or mission data, I do have an interest greater than most people. (Although I did wear space patches on my jean jacket in high school.)

Born two weeks before Apollo XI landed on the Moon, it always held a fascination. I think Star Wars and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fueled that somewhat, but the achievement and the promise of space exploration really grabbed my imagination.

So... a few links to touch upon this historic event. I hope you remember where you were forty years ago today, and I wish that we will see a return trip to the lunar surface soon.

(And to the thousands of people who made the Apollo program a success, thank you.)

First, CNN reports how a ten-year-old living in Guam made a quick repair to a NASA communications antenna just before splashdown.

Over at the New York Times, Tom Wolfe reflects on how the succes of Apollo XI was also NASA's greatest failure. The Times also chronicles those who consider the entire mission a hoax.

An interesting counter-point to the nay-sayers, is the Bad Astronomy blog. I discovered this blog last February, when "archival" photos from the Watchmen movie were posted, and the blog began to critique and correct problems of the picture showing Dr. Manhattan taking a picture of an astronaut on the Moon.

Wonder how powerful the computer was aboard Apollo XI? Dr. Dobb's has a nice analysis of the pioneering technology. Of particular note:
Simpler systems are inherently easier to program, maintain, and fail less often. As Gordon Bell, father of the minicomputer at DEC has often noted: "The most reliable components are the ones you leave out."
The Charles M. Schulz Museum showcases Peanuts contribution to NASA with a special exhibit. Many know of Snoopy and Charlie Brown's involvement with Apollo X. Fewer know that Snoopy also sponsors one of the most prestigious awards that NASA bestows.

And, a look to the future of manned space flight. And a message in a bottle.

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