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  Decision to cancel Apollo 18 and Apollo 19 (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Decision to cancel Apollo 18 and Apollo 19
Jim_Voce
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posted 08-18-2016 11:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim_Voce   Click Here to Email Jim_Voce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo 18 and 19 missions were canceled in October 1970 because the Apollo 13 mission gave NASA a scare. Does anyone know why they cancelled just those two missions?

Potentially, they could have canceled more flights. Keeping Apollo 15 made sense since it was the first J class mission. But Apollo 16 and 17 could have been canceled.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-19-2016 05:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo 18 and 19 were canceled due to budget cuts, not because of Apollo 13.

Further, the missions that were cut were the original Apollo 15 (a fourth H-class mission) and Apollo 19 (the fourth planned J-class mission), which then resulted in the remaining missions being renumbered Apollo 15 through Apollo 17.

moorouge
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posted 08-19-2016 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a matter of economics also. In a complicated programme such as Apollo, it is sometimes cheaper to continue with items in the pipeline than to stop straight away. There is a median point where losses/savings can be optimised and this was the case with Apollo where this point came with the cancellation of the last three flights.

Headshot
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posted 08-19-2016 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The cancellation of the H-4 mission (Apollo 15) and the J-4 mission (Apollo 19) saved NASA about $42 million out of a budget of $3.33 billion. One could argue that: (1) this was a significant savings, and/or (2) a few people in NASA were losing their nerve after the near disaster of Apollo 13.

One thing is for certain, President Nixon would not have allowed Apollo to end on such a negative occurrence as it would have looked like the President had lost his nerve.

mode1charlie
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posted 08-19-2016 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Professor John Logsdon, in his book "After Apollo: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program", wrote that Nixon wanted to cancel Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 after the near-trauma of the Apollo 13 accident. Via Jason Callahan at the Planetary Society:
Nixon was apparently deeply affected by the near tragic events of Apollo 13, and felt very connected to the crew during their ordeal. As a result, Nixon proposed to cancel Apollo 16 and 17 ahead of the 1972 election, for fear that something could go wrong with one of the missions and impact his re-election bid.

APG85
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posted 08-19-2016 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was always under the impression (from a lot of reading) that the missions after Apollo 17 were cancelled mainly because NASA management got cold feet after Apollo 13 and thought further missions were to high-risk.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-19-2016 08:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem with the risk theory alone is that Apollo 20 was canceled before Apollo 13 flew. Apollo 20 was canceled in January 1970 to allocate its Saturn V to Skylab. From TIME Magazine's Jan. 26, 1970 issue:
Besieged by criticism and budgetary cutbacks, the space agency announced last week that it would have to trim 50,000 men from its 190,000-man work force, already down by half from the 1966 high of 400,000. Admitted NASA Administrator Thomas Paine: "We are at the peril point."

More than jobs will be lost. After delivery of the last of the 15 Saturn 5s already purchased, NASA plans to suspend production of the mighty rockets.

And from after Apollo 13 flew, TIME Magazine, Sept. 14, 1970:
As public interest in the moon program faded and Congress chopped away at NASA's budget, however, the space agency began having second thoughts. Earlier this year, it canceled the last of the scheduled missions, Apollo 20, and spaced out the remaining landings to twice a year. Last week, the space agency reluctantly scrubbed two more missions — Apollo 15 and Apollo 19 — leaving only four more scheduled flights to the moon.
Risk may have very well been a contributing factor, but even if Apollo 13 never had its problem, NASA's budget was on the decline.

Jim_Voce
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posted 08-22-2016 01:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim_Voce   Click Here to Email Jim_Voce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
George Mueller was responsible for cancelling the Apollo 20 mission.

But who was responsible for cancelling Apollo 18 and 19? Was it a NASA decision or Congressional?

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-22-2016 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If what I have read about Nixon is true, his main concern over the loss of a lunar crew was if it would negatively affect his re-election campaign. Why was 19 and 20 cancelled and not postponed? A combination of reasons; budgets, an anti-space public and Administration and a bit of "cold feet" by NASA management.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-22-2016 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
...an anti-space public
The percentage of the public who thought the government should send humans to the moon was actually higher in April 1970 than it was in July 1967 (approximately 40 percent to 35 percent) but in both years, opposition to the moon missions averaged 53 to 55 percent. To quote Roger Launius:
The only point at which the opinion surveys demonstrate that more than 50 percent of the public believed Apollo was worth its expense came in 1969 at the time of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. And even then only a measly 53 percent agreed that the result justified the expense, despite the fact that the landing was perhaps the most momentous event in human history since it became the first instance in which the human race became bi-planetary.
So while there wasn't overwhelming public support for Apollo to continue, it was more of a status-quo situation than it was a new or growing "anti-space" attitude.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-22-2016 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps the anti-space people were getting more vocal.

I recall in Charlie Duke's "Moonwalker," he felt the press was always asking him to justify the cost and he wrote that his words were twisted and edited.

oly
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posted 08-22-2016 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reading the oral history page of John Hodge he states that Robert Gilruth was not keen on any return flights once the first successful landing had taken place and the crew were returned safely to the earth.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-23-2016 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking from personal experience and a very foggy memory, I remember a lot of political and social debate in the 60's regarding sending people to the moon. Those who supported it saw it as a giant leap in technology that would help mankind as a whole. It would also show the world America's technological superiority while putting the Soviets in their place. Those who opposed it saw it as something that took money from federal programs that helped the poor and needy. My very own sister felt like the entire space program was a waste of money. Her and I argued about it every time an Apollo mission launched.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but public opinion did drop considerably after the success of Apollo 11. Jim is correct when he said that Apollo 13 gave NASA a scare. It scared me too. The reason NASA canceled three lunar landing missions was, as Robert said, because of budget cuts. But those budget cuts followed a lack of public interest, which translated into lack of Congressional interest, which meant less money for NASA. It's all related. Congress, who appropriates money to federal agencies, is constantly being swayed (ruled) by public opinion, or support if you will.

As much as we don't want to hear it, the vast majority of Americans don't care about sending people into space period. Like my sister, they simply don't get it. I'm just happy that only 3 Apollo missions were canceled and not the entire program.

rlobinske
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posted 08-23-2016 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rlobinske     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pres. Nixon had proposed cancelling Apollos 16 and 17, but was talked out of it.

Orthon
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posted 08-23-2016 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe the American people never deserved the gift that such a talented, dedicated group of exceptional people gave them.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-24-2016 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like most things, people took it for granted. How could you not be impressed by such an undertaking or get bored with it? What a foolish decision! Cancelling these two missions didn't advance the U.S. at all.

jasonelam
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posted 08-24-2016 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo 20 was cancelled to use the Saturn V for Skylab once it was changed from a wet to dry workshop.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-24-2016 06:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
Cancelling these two missions didn't advance the U.S. at all.
That is not necessarily true. There has been a value to the American public having access to the Saturn V displays in Florida and Texas.

There are now alive two generations of Americans who were not around for the moon landings — and who would still not have been even if Apollo 18 and 19 had flown. That population, which today accounts for more than 50 percent of all Americans, has, to some degree, been inspired by these artifacts existing. It is arguable for sure, but a case could be made that the Saturn V exhibits have had a greater lasting impact than would have two additional missions.

Of course, there is no way to qualify or quantify that, as there is also no way to know what those two missions might have accomplished (or not accomplished). But, with the benefit of hindsight, the cancellation of Apollo 18 and 19 was not a total loss to the nation.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-25-2016 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see Robert's point, but aren't the people who visit JSC and KSC already at least somewhat enthusiastic about space? After all, that's why they go there in the first place. Nobody visits a site without having some level of interest in their destination. That's what draws them to it.

If Apollo 18 and 19 would have flown, there would have been six more astronauts to spread the message, not to mention more moon rocks for museums and science. I don't see how laying a Saturn V on its side is making people more enthusiastic about space. When I see the one at JSC, all I think about is turning it upright, filling it with fuel and lighting that candle. I can't help but think of the great opportunity we squandered away.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-25-2016 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There have been millions of kids who have seen the Saturn V rockets on display, either on school field trips or with their parents. Some percentage of them, even if it is small, have walked away with new found enthusiasm for space exploration that they didn't have before.

I don't think the exhibits were a valid reason to cancel the missions at the time, but to say nothing positive came of their cancellation is not entirely correct.

Jim Behling
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posted 08-25-2016 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
If Apollo 18 and 19 would have flown, there would have been six more astronauts to spread the message...
And they would be gone in a few years while the Saturn Vs are still here.
quote:
...not to mention more moon rocks for museums and science.
We got more than enough. A few hundred pounds more would not have changed much.

Jim Behling
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posted 08-25-2016 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Orthon:
Maybe the American people never deserved the gift that such a talented, dedicated group of exceptional people gave them.
What logic supports that statement? It wasn't a gift. The American people paid for it with taxes. And what was the direct return on the money other than soft power?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-25-2016 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
A few hundred pounds more would not have changed much.
Well, you can't say that either. The discovery of the "orange soil" on Apollo 17 did change a lot. There is no telling what the astronauts on Apollo 18 or 19 might have discovered at their respective landing sites.

The point is not that the cancellations didn't have their downsides, they did, but that they were not a total loss either.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-25-2016 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would that same thought apply if we had only launched Spirit and not Opportunity? Pretty expensive museum piece!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-25-2016 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the same reasoning would apply, assuming Opportunity was put on display in the National Air and Space Museum or some other high profile venue where the public would see it.

In fact, the Smithsonian has Marie Curie on display now, the flight spare to Mars Pathfinder's Sojourner.

Skylon
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posted 08-26-2016 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I feel like this is the ultimate example of a frequent question that comes up here when it is lamented how space artifacts are destroyed or altered to keep the program going. If Apollo 18 and 19 flew the final Saturns would be just gone. The last lunar modules. Hopefully the last command modules would survive as the scorched veterans of successfully completed flights.

I think if we were on the moon now — if there had been only a 10 or 20 year gap after Apollo it wouldn't look as sad to see this hardware sitting in a museum. We could say "Wow, this is how we USED to do it."

Instead we are left to wonder "What did we miss by not flying two more times?"

moorouge
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posted 08-26-2016 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The discovery of the "orange soil" on Apollo 17 did change a lot.
Yes, Robert. It did change a lot. For one thing it raised the question of how much are we missing by not having some Mark One Human Eyeballs on Mars. Just how much have Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity missed?

Orthon
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posted 08-26-2016 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was sitting in a staff meeting this morning and the site manager was talking about a project that keeps stalling. He said "if we can go to the Moon, then we should be able to do this..." I raised my hand and reminded him that "we can't go to the Moon." Not any more. It's taking what seems like forever to get Orion flying. I've now lived long enough to see the change in this country.

Jonnyed
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posted 08-27-2016 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jonnyed   Click Here to Email Jonnyed     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I appreciate a fellow cS'er's enthusiasm in making a statement like: "If Apollo 18 and 19 would have flown, there would have been six more astronauts to spread the message, not to mention more moon rocks for museums and science," there is a certain folly here in presuming all would have gone as planned.

As Apollo 13, Challenger, and Columbia (as well as many other incidents) have taught us, things can go wrong quickly, and in many unexpected ways.

Frankly, canceling Apollo's 18 and 19 may have prevented an ugly disaster — who is to know? I'm not arguing for not taking risks but maybe history worked out for the better in the long run. Just maybe.

Ronpur
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posted 08-27-2016 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We will never know what could have been discovered on 18 and 19, or if something could have gone wrong.

But even if they had flown, it seems likely that we would still have one and possibly two Saturn V displays by using test stages. In fact, not one of the current three Saturn V displays is an intact vehicle as planned to fly. And the last S-1C stage is by itself. Plus there is a very nice replica standing vertical.

Not everyone who visits KSC is a big space fan. On my several visits the last three years, I have over heard many people saying what a waste of money it was. Even standing right in front of it. It just seems like something else to do while planning on going to Disney the next day. It does look like more visitors arrive from outside the US than with in. I wish we had data on what they think.

But still, there is nothing like watching your kid walk out to see the Saturn V for the first time and say "holy S#%*".

Jim Behling
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posted 08-27-2016 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Just how much have Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity missed?
Cheaper to send more rovers than a manned landing.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-27-2016 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The expense was a factor, of course, but robotic precursor missions are necessary before sending humans — just as Lunar Orbiter, Ranger and Surveyor missions preceded Apollo.

Daniel on the Moon
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posted 08-27-2016 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Some percentage of them... have walked away with new found enthusiasm for space exploration that they didn't have before.
Yes, absolutely, a Saturn V can be an inspiration. However, we are not fully taking advantage of the full inspirational potential that a Saturn V could provide.

I have had the incredible opportunity to view the Saturn V both horizontally (as now displayed) and vertically (as I saw it standing at its base and looking up 36+ stories). There is ABSOLUTELY no comparison to the WOW factor of an upright Saturn V.

If using the Saturn V as an inspirational Apollo "artifact" for our youth, perhaps a kick starter campaign should be considered to fund the structure needed to support a vertical Saturn V!

Jurg Bolli
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posted 08-27-2016 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The mock-up in Huntsville is vertical, and it is an awesome sight, both from afar and from close up! It is even visible from an airliner at 35000 feet.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-27-2016 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As Jurg says, there is a vertical, replica Saturn V at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home to Space Camp. It stands just outside the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, where inside is a real Saturn V, displayed horizontally, comprised of test stages from the 500-F and 500-D vehicles.

Cozmosis22
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posted 08-27-2016 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Once the politicians and their bean counters make their mind up to cancel one program and start spending that tax money elsewhere there is no stopping them. Among others, Neil Armstrong argued in 2011 to keep the space shuttles flying until Orion came online, to no avail.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-27-2016 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong's testimony was to "carefully evaluate" proposals "to fly the Space Shuttle under commercial contract," not for the government to continue flying the orbiters. The proposals were evaluated and found to be insufficient or unrealistic.

oly
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posted 08-27-2016 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
Cheaper to send more rovers than a manned landing.
One of the additional features with "The Martian" extended edition DVD is an extract of a discussion panel covering the advantages of rovers versus human exploration with regard toward a mission to Mars. It covers some good points both for and against.

I am paraphrasing here but perhaps the best point made was an analogy that using a rover for exploration is like viewing a photo of the Grand Canyon through a drinking straw compared to standing on the edge of the canyon in person taking in all the sights, differing lighting conditions and environment and being able to take a step sideways to change your perspective slightly.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-29-2016 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All this robotic vs. man exploration talk reminds me of Dave Scott's standup EVA. If you haven't heard it recently give it another listen. It is one of the best, if not the best lunar geological descriptions ever made by any Apollo astronaut. He gave the scientists and planners back in Mission Control a complete 360 degree verbal panorama of the landing site, describing every feature in great detail.

While the current technology is much better than it was 45 years ago, I know cameras cannot capture the entire picture. We need human eyes to explore the unknown, which can interpret a scene in a way that no camera can.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-29-2016 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Getting back to Robert's point on the exhibition of the Saturn V's, I lived 2 miles from NASA-JSC back in the early 70's. After Apollo 17 came back, the Command Module was put on display at JSC. Back in the day, it was not covered in plastic like today's CSM's are. I went there almost every Saturday for more than a year. Every time I went, I spent hours standing in front of America, reminiscing about all the things I'd seen on TV just a few months earlier. One day, I was there and I stuck my camera inside the spacecraft and shot about 6 photos. While it was great seeing the Saturn V laying down in the yard near the main gate, nothing came close to the thrill of seeing the actual vehicle (spacecraft) that the astronauts called home for 12 days.

It's nice to see the boosters that sent the astronauts to the moon. But I, for one, would much rather see the vehicle that brought them back from the moon.


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