Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moon missions

I've been really enjoying Discovery Channel's When We Left Earth, currently being shown on the Science channel. I'm also a big fan of the movie Apollo 13, which details the trouble that mission experienced. I wasn't aware of how many problems and near misses that the other missions ran into, including Apollo 11, the mission that first landed on the moon. Apparently Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong bumped into the lunar module's control panel and broke off the control switch that turned on the lunar module's engines. Aldrin had to jam a pen into the control to make the engine start. Yikes. Is it me, or does it seem like NASA was always jury-rigging some life-and-death situation? Like this sequence from Apollo 13, which is one of my favorites in the film - the CO2 crisis which you can see on this clip on youtube. This clip, by the way, is what inspired Cathy Rogers, (formerly a member of the band Heavenly, my friend Phoebe Summersquash toured with them) to create the TV show Junkyard Wars.

I had forgotten that James Burke, author/host of Connections and The Day the Universe Changed was a commentator during the NASA missions. You can see James Burke in this clip at minute 1:05, talking about the oxygen supply crisis. Ooh! I just found a clip from Burke's BBC show about the space program. I love youtube. You can watch a clip from Connections here.

James Burke is my pen pal. I wrote to him in the early 1990s, before I had email, and thanked him for influencing my decision to buy a Macintosh. (I also had a huge crush on him, even though he was older and balding.) He wrote back, by snail mail. I'll have to find it in my box of memorabilia and scan it and put it online one of these days.

Ooh! James Burke Fan Companion! I love the Internets.

Here's James Burke's web site today - he has his own Institute now.

There is an entire library of moon mission video clips on one of NASA's web sites.