July 19, 2009

To the Moon

It's still not too late for you to check out the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum's interactive website, Wechoosethemoon.org. It is an interactive experience recreating the historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in real time. I wish there were more website "experiences" like it.

You really do get a sense of what it was like for the guys on the ground at CAPCOM and for the astronauts aboard Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Very soon, they will be Tweeting from the Eagle, but not yet. They aren't yet aboard Her! I just heard CAPCOM do their wakeup call (in "real" time). Too cool!

Kennedy addressing a joint session of the Congress on May 25, 1961

And let's not forget the reason for all of this. Here is the entire speech John F. Kennedy gave at Rice University on September 12, 1962, in which he lays out what must have seemed like an unimaginable boast. Even hearing it today, it seems impossible! Go to around 15 minutes in:

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, reentering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out, then we must be bold.

It gives you chills.

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