I have been watching a series from TV titled When We Left Earth that was on the Discovery Channel several weeks ago. Can I just tell you how ridiculously cool this show is? For those of you who watched Planet Earth, this is every bit as impressive. This is a series of several episodes chronicling all the early space missions like the Gemini Project, the Apollos, etc. VERY COOL.
Growing up, I was never taught about what true heroes these guys were. When the Russians were running at full speed towards landing on the Moon, JFK issued the challenge to our space program to land on the Moon first. From that time on, the astronauts had to completely build the program from ground up. At that time, nobody knew ANYTHING about space, about the Moon, orbiting, or anything else for that matter. So these guys who were picked to be the astronauts were nothing more than scientists with big ambition.
The series tell the stories of these guys starting, building their equipment on the little that they knew, and kept building with what they learned. An episode I watched today made a comment that illustrated the situation: one of the former Mission Control Directors stated that the technology and computing power from the entire Mission Control Center was equal to about the same computing power from a laptop computer today. The computing power on any one of the spacecraft (Gemini or Apollo missions) was equipped with about the same computing power as a digital watch today. Isn’t that crazy? I mean these guys were shooting into space at like 1700 mph on less technology than a cell phone today? wow.
So after watching today about the story of when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were 15 seconds worth of fuel from crashing into the Moon, or when, after their famous walk on the Moon, almost weren’t going to be able to launch back up to join their ship and their ride home. I watched Buzz talk about how he had to use a ball-point pen to jimmy-rig the control panel just to fire the thruster to get back off the surface of the moon. He is so unbelievably humble about what he did, it was truly moving. Truly.
So I think that the things I have seen and learned today have truly inspired me to be a little braver, a little more bold, a little more focused, and a little more humble about the things I accomplish in my life. And as Ferris Beuller once said “Life moves pretty fast…if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Links to check out: