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 Post subject: RIP Neil Armstrong
PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:04 pm 
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Sad news:-

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/ ... B020120825

More than forty years since he became the first man to set foot on the moon. Hardly seems so long.

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 Post subject: Re: RIP Neil Armstrong
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:01 am 
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 Post subject: Re: RIP Neil Armstrong
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:58 pm 
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I sympathise with Tony's blogpost. Earlier in the year I read Andrew Chaikin's "A Man On The Moon" which is an excellent account of the whole Apollo programme. It made me appreciate the bold scale of the endeavour, the complexity of the organisation, the ingenuity of the engineering, and the immense riskiness from start to finish - not forgetting the lessons hard learned along the way, not least the tragedy of Apollo 1.

I suppose my generation takes it for granted because we've known pretty much all our lives it's been done, but when you think about it, putting 12 men on the moon was an astonishing achievement. Yet it was about far more than just planting flags. Apollo progressed quickly from the initial accomplishment of Apollo 11 to the less glamorous but far more important achievement of putting up a team trained in geology - together with the relevant tools and a moon buggy capable of roving miles over alien terrain - in order to increase our scientific understanding of our nearest neighbour.

Of course, I appreciate Apollo was also about Cold War oneupmanship, and developing ICBM technology, but it is undeniably also one of mankind's greatest achievements, and a shining example of how great things can be achieved. As Ken Mattingly put it, "It was being part of a team that was dedicated to something that transcended individual aspirations... It was thousands of people who were willing to work day and night..." He says that if there's a lesson to be learned from Apollo, it's that we can do difficult things if we have a clearly defined objective and enough people and funds. In other words, it's a matter of political will.

Perhaps we should be glad that we no longer live in a Cold War climate - however, we should certainly also lament the fundamental lack of vision and confidence amongst our political leaders, compared with the boldness of Kennedy's challenge of May 1961.

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 Post subject: Re: RIP Neil Armstrong
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:05 am 
Andrew Smith's Moondust is well worth a read.


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