The Apollo Journey

Long ago, yet always in the present.

                The following book was written by the same writer who shared about the Mars expeditions (satellites, orbiters, and rovers):  Rod Pyle, and to him I appreciate the effort.   He certainly could have written a far more detailed book, but what he did with information, some stats, actual words the astronauts and ground control spoke, and pictures, has done much to help us understand the times of the 1960’s and into the 70’s.

                The book is entitled “Destination Moon.”  Written right below that is “The Apollo Missions in the Astronauts’ Own Words.”  While I know the book is only about 200 pages long, with tremendous pictures, and thus cannot fully share the experience….  For I remember, long ago, obtaining CDs on the Apollo 11 mission, and just the time of actual lunar flight, landing, and ascending back to the command module took hours of viewing, a ton of empty time and fascinating perspectives, also concepts and discussions, which helps a little in filling in some within the book.  As such, I’m very grateful to have picked this up, another to be read soon. But I would also encourage readers, if they’re interested, to pick up those CD’s, if they’re so inclined. However, be patient, watch in parts (It’s long.), and have someone who enjoys learning about space and history to discuss the topics. 

                Within the pages are some descriptions of each astronaut, the times they lived, and the efforts to reach the moon.  Most of us have seen Apollo 13 in the movies, and thus far, I’m happy to say much reality was in that show, though some things needed clarity.  For instance, according to sources I read, the explosion was not as the movie shared, but increasing power without the proper changing of equipment (The previously installed equipment had a different power rating for previous purposes.). But we kept going back to the moon.  I wonder how many people know about Apollo 14, 15, 16, and 17.  We learned.  We improved upon previous journeys and landings. We retrieved samples. We walked across and learned. We drove on the lunar surface.  We brought back much in the way of samples to study, also leaving equipment for those back on the Earth to study the moon from afar. And on the last mission: Apollo 17, we had a scientist (geologist) walking on the lunar surface, getting samples and running tests.

                Here are a few pictures many might remember:

**Apollo 14. With each trip, we learned a little more, bringing more in the way of equipment to study. Here, the astronauts had a pull-cart so to speak, equipment loaded up, and walked out towards a couple sites, obtaining information and samples. One thing shared I thought more about. It was easy to get lost walking from the LM (Their ship.). I can only imagine that everything looked similar, and I doubt a compass would work like back on our planet. I suppose, had they walked far enough, it’s possible finding their ship might have become extremely difficult. **Of course, without an atmosphere, they could easily follow their footprints.

Apollo 15. Now, what a way to travel. Your own RV on the moon. Look at the mountain in the backdrop!

Apollo 16. Though we went back, we notice the pictures always seem similar, even though they landed in different locations. I would suggest we set up a long-term facility where astronauts could live for months, grow their own foods in transported soil, drive moon RV’s, and conduct experiments which would give us a far better idea of sending anyone to Mars.

Apollo 17. One thing I’d like to point out, which is obviously from a spectator. It seems to take a lot of time to learn and understand, and that with a moon that orbits our Earth, only 250,000 miles away. Yet, we can obviously learn a lot. We have much we could learn here, with humans, prior to sending any to other planets, for the learning curve seems to require many visits and adjustments. **Mark these words. I believe any hasty ventures with people to the red planet will have serious difficulties.

**Okay, now for the point to this article:

                While sitting here, reading a book about the Apollo missions, going from one to the next journey, it suddenly dawned upon me I knew nothing about the following missions.  The more I read, the more I wondered why I knew nothing about the other missions. I might have frowned. Certainly, I had read about the Mercury missions from before (as a kid looking through books), remembered watching the Apollo 11 landing and some reading after (long after), watched the movie “Apollo 13,” but that’s it.  The following ventures, together with what was learned before, what they hoped to discover, and the ventures with detailed tapes of the astronauts’ times on the lunar surface is just not in our background.  And that got me asking some serious questions.

                While growing up, I don’t remember hearing anything about the Apollo missions.  I wonder if some readers do, and if so, what they had learned.  As we moved from time to time, I had gone to a few different schools, and while I do remember a few posters on walls, even a plastic rocket in one class, I don’t remember reading about the missions in text books, listening to any teacher about our ventures, seeing no tapes of documentaries on television screens (or movie projectors as we had back then), nor shows about the trips, the wonders, the experiments, and more. 

                With regards to the later Space Shuttle missions, I don’t remember those being discussed.  I don’t remember reading about the programs.  And I have to wonder about the reasons.  I do remember once, an amazing day, during a vacation trip, watching a Space Shuttle pass overhead, such that we could see details, and how amazing that was for us.

                In a recent article or two, I shared my current continued learning about Russia, the former Soviet Union, and the writers who’ve lived and shared with the public.  And along the way, I find myself appreciating these writers’ efforts, but also at a quandary as to why part of our curriculum did not entail a far better and more enriching understanding of communism in general and Russia in particular.

                While I have my own theories, I have to ask some very poignant questions.  During those twelve years in school, how much could we have learned?  How much about the space programs might we have read, including going on field trips to space museums?  How cool it might have been to obtain Apollo models to assemble. How much might we have learned about the space shuttle missions, what we learned, and what might be next?  And during all those Apollo missions, all those landings on the moon, and the rides across, what programs detailed both the flights and lunar crossings?  Because, I wonder, a tremendous amount of information, which seems should be shared by all, including learning all we can about our own country, the Revolutionary War, and the years after, should have been a huge part of our growing up. 

                I can imagine writing entire curriculums for several grades.  They would detail the decades and centuries from life in Europe, many in dictatorships, many fleeing in hope, and the long journeys through time.  They would detail colonization of America, the hardships, the hopes, and diary entries by people in these lands.  They would detail the years leading to the Revolutionary War, what went on, and the following years which we struggled to maintain our freedoms.  And we might even read a couple Louis L’Amour books for engaging context.

                The curriculum would incorporate much of the learnings about space, even from the invention of the telescope, and we would all have space night, so we could all look through telescopes and wonder at the marvels of Jupiter and Saturn.  We would put on classroom televisions any available tapes from those Apollo missions, but also about the Space Shuttles.  And if we could, we would share some of Elon Musk’s visions.

                Through real history, more about our country, but also detailing communism, Stalin, and Russia, but probably including North Korea and what that war was about, we would also share the immense problems with socialism, providing readings and discussions. 

                I could get far more detailed, here, for I would certainly want more details about science, about cells and virus construction, perhaps planting gardens so we could all appreciate how seeds grow into squash, peas, kale and more, perhaps leading to discussions about DNA and how billions of molecules determine everything we see in a plant.  I would want animals living in the classroom, with some sort of temperature control so the animals could live during the colder months, but also so books about animals would come alive.  And though all of this, we would certainly teach writing, reading a ton, discussing, and all the more.  You see, learning is very important.  And as I continue to learn, I realize how much more can be brought forth.  Which is why I so strongly support home schooling.  For I more and more realize, with the passage of time, how much more could and should have been shared while growing up. 

And through all of this, writing would be very important. Essays. Research and citing information, with bibliographies. Science fairs. Biographies. Story and Play writing. Poetry. And more. And since the classrooms would be filled with real information, real reading about real events, the students would have a ton to write about. And I have to say one more thing. When a person has read about important and interesting events and times, has discussed to good lengths, has been part of some cool projects, and discovers an entire world of wonder, that person tends to have much to write about. There was something I heard once. It was how can you successfully teach writing if the students haven’t anything to write about. Or, as I see it, provide a quality curriculum so they have more than enough to write about. In fact, they’ll probably be writing even when we’re not looking.

**One advice to home schooling parents who work hard to provide a quality education. The learning together can work together. It might be quite interesting what the parents might learn along the way.

**Photography, designing and making dishes to share in the class, art, commercial designs, singing, using microscopes to study microorganisms, and more should all be part of the learning. Head out towards the coast and walk along the beaches. Observe the sea lions. Talk to fishermen. Go on a deep sea fishing trip. What might be found? And they’ll have much more to write about: Dear Diary….

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