Space, the not-so-final frontier

July's the month for travelling off the planet

In July, 2006, the Space Shuttle fleet eventually made it's second return to flight since the recent disaster.  It was the first launch I'd seen as it happened, albeit over the internet (it's a little bit hard to see it for real, since I'm in another country—Australia—but it was certainly an interesting event).

Thirty-odd years ago, on the 21st of July, 1969, NASA had another little achievement—man landing on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.  I missed that one, because I wasn't quite born yet, but was getting ready for my own landing later that year after the Apollo 12 mission, in November.  Though I do have a few souvenirs from the occasion (see below).

NB:  That's our local date for the event, South Australia's date and time is ahead of GMT.

Russia also (crash) landed their robotic Luna-15 on the moon a few days after the Apollo 11 mission, on the 21st, after they'd done some work while in orbit.  And still within the month of July, on the 30th, 1969, NASA's Mariner was sending back pictures from Mars.  It seems they like July at NASA, many years later, July 11th, 1997 the Pathfinder mission to Mars was sending back pictures.  And, of course, there's the Space Shuttle mission that I mentioned at the start.

Some scans from my space scrapbooks:

[scanned image of a 'was on earth when man first set foot on the moon' certificate]
A certificate from the local newspaper and TV station
(The patterning is because it's a bit wrinkled, it's glued into a scrapbook)
[scanned image of a replica Apollo 11 astronaut's badge]
A replica of one of the Apollo 11 astronauts' badges
(Also from the local newspaper)
[scanned image of a replica Apollo 12 astronaut's badge]
A replica of an Apollo 12 astronauts' badges
(Also from the local newspaper)

I've got a couple of scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings from a few Apollo missions, but these are the highlights (as far as I'm concerned), the easiest to show on the internet, and I can't put the whole thing on my website.  By the way, those badges are printed onto cloth.  No doubt they were intended so that you could wear them, though these have always been stuck on a page.

Back then, the space race was a major news event.  There were quite a few different things you could get through our newspaper, like 35 mm slides and home movie films (8 mm, and even 16 mm) from the missions.  Not to mention the various models of the ships available from shops.  I have slides from the Apollo 10 and 11 missions, and what you can see written about, and displayed, above.  Now, you just see a few small articles briefly covering some of the achievements, or a media scrum if there's a problem.  I saw a press conference after the recent launch, where all they would do was ask questions about bits of foam falling off the shuttle, and almost nothing else.  Quite different from what our local TV station did to fill in time during one of the Apollo missions that went a bit awry—rushed out to a local shop, bought a model of the ship, and built it live on television.

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