Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Greatest Show (Not) On Earth


I was 10 the summer that Apollo 11 happened.

And, like all kinds of kids everywhere, I thought that nine day mini-series was the best thing ever.

And when the big show wasn't on the television I spent most of the rest of the flight in my closet, which I had converted into a fairly decent replica of the inside of the Command Module, with faux controls and everything.

I'm pretty sure I even slept in there.

The thing is, the Command Module (CM; which is the bit that looked a cylinder with a pointy cone at one end) did not land on the moon.

Instead, it circled luna with Mike Collins in it, waiting to do the pick-up, while the other two guys went down in the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM; which was the part looked kind of like a stubby-legged spider) so that they could walk around and take pictures and stuff.



Somebody on the Twittmachine (sorry, can't remember who) pointed me towards a reverse-time-lapse of the launch of the big Saturn V rocket that hauled the then conjoined CM and LEM up into space from the perspective of the actual launch pad floor itself (which is the opposite view of things from that shown in the image above).

The movie is a really freaking amazing back-stage, nuts and bolts 'this is how the thing actually worked' -type thing that it is nothing like anything that the two Wallys (Schirra and Cronkite) and Arthur Clarke babbled on about, pretty much non-stop, on the idiot-box at the time.

On the day of the moonwalk itself I distinctly remember something that actually had nothing to do with space....But it did have quite a bit to do with time (and what would soon become a continuum) ...It all started when the two Wally's began to pontificate on what the future would hold...And the thing distinctly rememberd?...Well, I recall being struck dumb by the realization that in the year 2000, in addition to flying cars and regular flights to Mars,  I would be 41 years old...At the time I had no trouble conceiving of winged vehicles in the driveway and/or interplanetary travel taken in an economy class seat...But... I could not even begin to fathom the possibility that I would ever be that old...Well....Ha!



Lew said...

I watched the landing coverage with my sixty-nine year old father-in-law. Talk turned to an event he’d witnessed on the prairies at the age of ten; the pass of Halley’s Comet. “You’ll see it when it comes by again,” he said.
“So will you,” I maintained.
In eighty-six he paid up with the beer he bet that I was wrong. And he bought for ten years after that.
Seems that fathoming how old you'll get to be doesn't depend much on your age at the time of said fathoming.

RossK said...


That is some fathoming Lew.

Should have gotten my Grandma, who was there for the landing, to buy me a beer in the year 2000. She, too, was still here then.

And I still, even now, have....