Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Message From Space

Since the theme for OSFest 2 is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Mission, it is appropriate to look back at what happened 40 years ago this week.

NASA had held up the Apollo mission for 22 months delay to rework the problems that had lead up to the disastrous events aboard the earthbound Apollo 1. A command module fire swept through the cabin and took the lives of Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee. Finally a successful Apollo 7 mission relaunched the program. 40 years ago this week, on December 21, 1968; Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Williams Anders blasted off aboard Apollo 8 with enough speed to reach escape velocity and became the first humans to break free of Earth’s gravitational bounds and journey to another celestial body. Though their mission was not to make the actual landing, they were the first people to see the far side of the moon, the side that never presents itself to we mere Earthbound observers. I remember thinking at the time what willpower it must have taken to not divert their space craft and make that landing even knowing they would not be able to return from it. But they followed the mission profile, completed their circuit of the moon and snapped one of the most iconic photos ever taken. The image of a small planet Earth coming up over the moonrise. And on Christmas Eve, as they came back into radio contact with the entire world watching their broadcast, and after having taken turns reading from the Book of Genesis, they ended their transmission with these words; "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth."

These were men that built the dreams of many a young man of my generation. I salute you kind sirs, your deeds were truly heroic!

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