The Eagle Has Landed The Eagle Has Landed The Apollo missions sponsored by the National Aeronautics Space Administration, hereafter referred to as NASA, has had a huge impact on our nation as well as our world. The Apollo missions sent humans to orbit, study, research and even walk on Earths only natural satellite, the Moon. The desire to get to the Moon sprouted from a fierce and scary time in our nations history, the Cold War with Russia. The Race for Space, as it came to be known, was of dire importance to the United States and forever changed and strengthened our nation. After World War 2 the United States came into a bitter Cold War with Communist Russia. The Cold War was an intense period of unrest and political warfare between two powerful nations, the U.S. and Russia.
After the real war the US and Russia were in a bitter struggle with each other for world power. Each nation began racing to arms, including nuclear weapons, and racing to gain technology. Each country had hopes of breaking the others bank and securing the position of power over the other country. The space race was a big part of the Cold War. It was a race to dominate the world, to decide whether American style democracy or Russian style communism would be Earths predominate political philosophy, (Schefter 12).
On Friday October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched an artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit around the Earth (Schefter 21). Many Americans feared that the Soviets were winning the race for space and pushed for the United States to do something fast, before it was too late. The impact of a Russian conquest in space was cataclysmic, (Schefter 6). The U.S. had to get the moon, and they had to get it quick.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that it would be a U.S. national goal to put a man on the Moon, and bring him safely back to Earth by 1970, (Pasachoff 139). And so the Apollo missions began. The overall goal of the NASA sponsored missions was to provide data about the geography and physical make-up of the moon as well as to have a human being walk on the moon. There were a total of seventeen different missions to orbit or land on the moon, Apollo 1 through Apollo 17.
On the night of July 20, 1969, two Americans walked on the moon, (Chaikin vii). The first Apollo mission, Apollo 1 was attempted in on January 27 of 1967. It was meant to be an engine test for the Apollo type spacecraft. The cabin of the spacecraft was filled with pure oxygen, proving to be disastrous for the astronauts aboard. There was a flash fire in the cockpit of the command module and the oxygen caused an explosion (Chaikin 13-18). The veteran astronauts killed were Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger B.
Chaffee. It was the first set of tragic deaths experienced by NASA. Apollo 2-7 were manned space flights that orbited the Earth. Their primary objective was to test the Apollo type spacecraft for future lunar projects. The Apollo 8 was the first manned orbit of the moon. The Apollo 8, 9, and Apollo 10 missions had a goal to orbit the moon and photograph possible landing sites for later missions. It is also important to realize that nobody on Earth even knew what the surface of the moon would be like.
The surface properties of the moon were largely unknown in 1958, a matter which assumed great practical importance when mans first journeys to the Moon began to take shape, (Cortright 81). With the help of the Apollo 8 and 10 missions NASA was able to predict a proper landing site, providing that the moon wouldnt swallow up the spacecraft. The Apollo 10 mission simulated lunar landing with the lunar module, (Apollo 10 3). The main objective of the two missions were to locate a safe landing destination and provide important information about tracking systems for the Apollo type spacecraft. The Apollo 10 mission was a dress-rehearsal for the first lunar landing, (Apollo 10 4).
The Apollo 11 spacecraft named The Eagle landed on the moon one evening in July. Chaikin writes the famed words of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed, (200). The main objectives of the Apollo 11 mission were to have an American man walk on the Moon, and determine the physical composition of the Moons surface. The Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong was to be the first human to step foot on the surface of the Moon, followed by the Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Buzz Aldrin. As Commander Armstrong stepped out onto the moon he spoke words that would come to be a famous part of history, One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind, (Schefter 288).
The United States had accomplished something that would forever change history and would be remembered for centuries to come. When the crew of Apollo 11 were safely returned to Earth, they had to wear biological isolation suits, and they also were placed in a Mobile Quarantine Facility and transported to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston, Texas (Apollo 11 2). This had to be done to prevent the astronauts from spreading any new bacteria picked up in outer space and the Moon that might cause illness to humans. It was an arduous journey for the astronauts even when they returned to Earth, but a journey that they will forever be remembered by. The Apollo 12 lunar module landed on the Northwest rim of the 200-meter-diameter crater named The Ocean of Storms (Apollo 12 1).
The Apollo 12 mission was the first opportunity in the scientific exploration of the Moon to sample extensively the rocks within half a kilometer of the landing site, to obtain geologic data from first-hand observations made on the Moon, to measure on the surface of the Moon the vector components of the lunar magnetic field, to measure the pressure of the lunar atmosphere, and to collect seismic data on the interior of the Moon from the impact of the Lunar Module ascent stage, (Apollo 12 1). In other words, Apollo 12s main objective was to gain extensive information about the moon by taking samples and performing experiments within a half-kilometer of the landing site. This mission was Americas first chance to really get to know the composition of the moon. The Apollo 13 mission may well be the most famous of all the Apollo missions, second only to Apollo 11, because of the trouble the mission had. The mission was originally planned to serve as a precision lunar landing in the Fra Mauro highlands region of the Moon (Apollo 13 1).
The mission had problems from liftoff, when a second-stage inboard engine shut down early. Then a malfunction caused by an explosion and rupture of an oxygen tank took two of the three fuel cells out, which were the prime source of the missions power, and the second oxygen tank was rapidly losing pressure (A13 1). This meant that there was not enough fuel to make a lunar landing, and also that the astronauts were running out of air and time. The crew of the Apollo 13 had to conserve their resources from both the lunar module and the service and command modules to have enough resources to re-enter the Earths atmosphere. After much brainstorming by the astronauts and their counterparts in the space center, the Aquarius was returned safely to Earth. The Apollo 14 mission completed all the mission tasks that the Apollo 13 mission was originally designated to accomplish, although it had troubles of its own. .
When the Apollo 14 module went to dock with its lunar lander Antares, the docking mechanism would not catch properly; however, the astronauts were finally able to trigger a response to get the docking latches to catch and the mission continued as planned (Chaikin 353-4). Apollo 14 landed in the Fra Mauro region, which is believed to have been formed in one of the most cataclysmic events in the geological history of the Moon (Apollo 14 1). Experiments in this region of the Moon would allow astronauts to determine the age of that particular area of the Moon. The Apollo 15-17 missions were three missions that were called the J missions. Those missions were designed to conduct exploration of the Moon over longer periods of time and in larger ranges (Apollo 15 1). The 15th 17th missions also used more scientific instruments than any previous Apollo mission.
There were four main objectives to the these final Apollo missions and they are as follows: 1) to perform inspections, survey and sampling of materials and surface features in the landing area; 2) to place and activate surface experiments; 3) evaluate the capability of the Apollo equipment to provide extended lunar surface stay time; and 4) conduct in-flight experiments and photographic tasks from orbit (Apollo 15 1). These missions were also the only missions to use a battery powered lunar roving vehicle. The Apollo 17 mission was the last of the Apollo missions, and was also the last mission to use a rocket-propelled spacecraft. The future of the space exploration from that point would depend on a space shuttle that would take off like a rocket and fly like an airplane, or what is now known as a space shuttle (Chaikin 496). Together, the Apollo missions helped give security to the United States in a time of trouble and turmoil. They gave not just Americans, but all modern civilizations important insight and information about Earths only real satellite.
The Apollo missions allowed an American to walk on the surface of the Moon, and gather important information about its physical composition. It also proved that the Moon is not made of green cheese, as was once a legend! In conclusion, the Apollo missions provided an important advancement in the scientific fields of astronomy and physics. Perhaps no other space mission will be as significant or as well watched and remembered as the Apollo missions. Nor will any other mission teach as much as the Apollo missions taught Americans and others around the world. Apollo may be the only accomplishment of the 20th century that will be remembered centuries from today.
the Earth to the Universe. Pasachoff, Jay M. 5th edition. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, U.S.A. Works Cited Apollo Missions printed from NASA supported web site and links from www.cass.jsc.nasa.gov/expmoon/apollo landings.html The Race: The Uncensored Story of how America Beat Russia to the Moon.
Schefter, James. Doubleday, New York. 1999 Apollo Expeditions to the Moon. Cortright, Edgar M. -editor. U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 1975 A Man on the Moon, the Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts. Chaikin, Andrew. Viking Penguin, New York. 1994 Astronomy: From 1998 Astronomy.