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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Missions to the moon - then and now

The moon has fascinated us since ages. From being regarded as some sort of a God to being a mere natural satellite revolving around the earth, mankind has come a long way in his perceptions concerning the moon. There have already been multiple expeditions to the moon. And here is something that I found out while going through Yahoo news this morning. It is about the first successful expedition - the Apollo 11 mission. Suddenly out of the blue, a lot of secrets are being revealed. It is debatable as to how much is really true and how much is not. Nevertheless, all of these make for an interesting read. Here is the excerpt:

So, 40 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, here are some of the facts that you probably didn't know about the historic event:

1. Aldrin took secret communion: Before leaving the Apollo 11 moon-landing module, US astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin took a Christian Communion, including a wafer and a thimbleful of wine from a kit prepared by his pastor.
Neil Armstrong "watched respectfully, but made no comment to me at the time," Aldrin recalled.

Atheism advocate Madelyn Murray O'Hair, who objected to government employees praying publicly, was suing NASA at the time, so Aldrin kept the act private.

2. Mementos left on Moon: Along with their backpacks, an American flag, and half the Apollo 11 moon-landing module, Armstrong and Aldrin left some sentimental mementos on the surface of the moon, including, a patch from the never-launched Apollo 1 mission, which ended prematurely when flames engulfed the command module during a 1967 training exercise, killing three US astronauts.

The mementos also included medals commemorating pioneering Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin, who had died in flight in 1967 and 1968, respectively; goodwill messages from 73 world leaders; and a small gold pin shaped like an olive branch, a symbol of peace.

3. US President had speech ready in case of disaster: President Richard Nixon's speechwriter William Safire wrote a speech in case the Apollo 11 moonwalkers missed the rendezvous with the orbiting command module to return to Earth.

Among the sentiments: "These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But, they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."

4. Between homecoming and oblivion may have stood a pen: While on the moon, one of the astronauts knocked loose the circuit breaker responsible for igniting the engine that would propel the Apollo 11 astronauts back to the orbiting command module-their only ride home. The interesting fact bout the incident is that Aldrin used a felt tip pen to push the breaker back into place.

5. American flag bit the dust: As the Apollo 11 astronauts blasted off from the moon, flying dust and debris toppled the first American flag planted on the moon. (ANI)

With respect to expeditions to the Moon, not too long back, India's very own formidable mission Chandrayan-1 suffered a terrific setback when one of its key sensors stopped functioning. Although, the ISRO scientists claimed that this would not abort the mission as of now, it could potentially do so in the future. But, it has been claimed that 90 percent of the mission objectives have already been achieved over a period of the last 8 months.

Here is a slideshow, courtesy Sanjana, featuring this very interesting but lifeless natural satellite which you will probably like. If the slideshow does not run automatically, click on the thumbnails on the right hand for a view of some of the most historic pictures concerning the Moon.

Image source: http://static.howstuffworks.com


Indyeah said...

You know what I remember of this historic occasion (the Indian mission )(told by mom an dad that is)

I faintly remember a Rakesh Sharma Tee SHirt which was selling like hotcakes then and I remember begging mom to buy it..
she did :D

I remember watching the video where Rakesh Sharma says saare jahaan se achcha :))in response to Mrs Gandhi's question:)

as for all the facts regarding the Apollo mission..maybe they are true maybe they are not..either way they are fascinating to read..
thanks for sharing:)

Chiranjib said...


Well, I don't remember any of that. But yes, I have heard stories about it and how Rakesh Sharma had spoken to Indira Gandhi from the space shuttle. It is true that India has a long way to go to be at par with some of the other nations. But I believe - India can, India will, India must!

pawan said...

I should truly accept, I never knew the facts mentioned above, and I don't use yahoo!. And do you know, that there are certain theories that state the the moon mission was a complete fake?. If you dont know, I'll just upload the video for you!

Have a great weekend!

Chiranjib said...

@ pawan
Yeah, there has been a lot of confusion about it, off late. Even I am confused to a certain extent!
I would wait for your video.

Enjoy your weekend!