Crater America
Published July 21, 1969, the day after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
    My oldest sister Marie remembers me talking about man going to the moon when I was growing up on  the farm in Iowa.  She thought I was daydreaming or fantasizing. 
       Five years older than I, Marie herself was born just a few days before another important flight in our country's history, when Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic alone on May 20-21, 1927. (I myself was born five years later on May 20, 1932, on the very day that Amelia Earhart flew the Atlantic solo.)
        Maybe I was dreaming , but apparently something gave me some degree of confidence that man would achieve a moon landing.   It seems it was in 1949 that I bet another student that we would go to the moon in 15 years.   I don't recall that he took me up on it.  It's not that I was prescient, and by that date, I missed it by five and a fraction years.  
       Needless to say, the lunar landing was a great accomplishment that God permitted America, to reach our nearest neighbor in space and set down upon it. 
       It not only fulfilled our nation's belief in itself, but it fulfilled a small personal belief, perhaps a belief that was enkindled in a little country school and stimulated by what I saw on the road that led to and from it.  All the classes of all the grades were held in one room with a stove in front of rows of desks.   Behind the stove was a library, maybe just a few shelves.  I guess it was in that little library as a boy I found a book that had something about planets.   It seems something I very much wanted -- maybe more than anything else -- was a pad of typing paper so I could draw planets.
       The road from the farm to the country school was up over a big hill and down to a flat stretch of gravel road that ran along the Indian Creek.  I remember walking along that flat stretch one night, and seeing a remarkable thing, an illumination in the sky which seemed to originate from approximately east by northeast, at maybe about 50 degrees elevation.   I suppose it was an meteor exploding, a visitor from outer space.   Years later, visitors from outer space would descend the lunar sky―from America, in a bright moment of her history. 

                  Man Reaches the Moon                                               The Apollo Eagle, published Dec. 6, 1972

      The Apollo program by NASA lasted from 1961 to 1975 and had the goal of landing man on the moon, which was accomplished on July 20, 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission.  Five more Apollo missions landed astronauts there.  Apollo 17 in 1972, the last  manned landing, was launched on Dec. 7th and landed on the moon on December 11th.  The lunar landings by America were one of  the greatest achievements in the history of humankind.    As shown by the cartoon below, this Apollo wasn't mythical.                

Cartoon at right was dated April 15, 1981. Columbia flew the first shuttle mission.  It was launched on the 20th anniversary of human spaceflight, on April 12th, 1981.  After orbiting the earth 36 times, it returned on April 14th. It would fly more than 125 million miles.  Sadly, on its 28th mission, it disintegrated over Texas on reentry.

       Orion was the call sign of the Apollo 16 lunar module which
landed on the moon April 21, 1972, in the Des Cartes Highlands.
The moon landing was nearly scrubbed, owing to a malfunction
in the main propulsion system of the command module.  The
Orion was already undocked and flying when the problem
occurred. After determining it was low risk, it was permitted
to land.  As a result of  this Apollo mission, planetary geologists
concluded that meteorites were a dominant force in shaping the
ancient lunar surface with their impacts.
      Orion is also a prominent constellation, and is referred to as
the Hunter, and in some myths, the constellations Canis Major
and Canis Minor are seen as his hunting dogs (Canis is Latin for
dog).  Orion has two of the ten brightest stars in the heavens,
Rigel and Betelgeuse.  Betelgeuse triangulates with two of
the other brightest stars, both in the Canis constellations, one
being  Sirius, the brightest star of all, apart from the sun.
       There's an interesting story about the belt and sword of Orion, in the life of St. Therese of Lisieux.  She saw in his belt "a likeness to the letter 'T'," and would cry "Look, Papa, my name is written in heaven." She asked him to lead her, while she, with her head thrown back,  "gazed unweariedly at the starry skies."  Indeed, as a saint, her name is written in heaven, the first word  she learned to speak. 
    It is also written here on earth.   JR                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These Capsules Make a Man Feel Better, Too
        On January 27, 1967, fire swept through the Apollo 1 spacecraft, taking the lives of three astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, who were training for an Earth-orbit mission, scheduled for a February 21st launch.  They were involved in a simulation test, going through a countdown sequence.  The command module was atop an unfueled Saturn 1B rocket.  
      The fire was blamed on arcing, made worse by an oxygen-rich atmosphere and flammable material in the cabin.
      It's been reported that the crew died not from burns, which were survivable, but from asphyxiation.
      Fire spread rapidly in the cabin, 17 seconds elapsing from its start till the last transmission. 
      Rescue efforts were slowed.  It could've taken 90 seconds to open the hatch in the best of circumstances. It was closed by clamps that required racheting, and opening inward, it required venting  pressure before it could be forced open. 
      For future missions self-extinguishing materials replaced most flammable ones.   At launch a nitrogen-oxygen mixture was used instead of pure oxygen, and a hatch was designed to open outward and for quick removal.
     Virgil "Gus" Grissom was the second astronaut to fly in space and Edward H. White II was the first American astronaut to walk in space. Roger Chaffee was on his first space mission. 
      See a crescent moon in the space helmet and the cross upon the water, and by chance, see the curious wavy effect in the water from the way the cartoon  reproduced.                                         

Moonset at Cape Kennedy        
(Ft. Dodge, Iowa.  As used on the page, see Iowa cartoons )

                                           ΤΗΙS ΑΡΟLLO'S ΝΟ ΜΥΤΗ




July 1, 1971.  Russian cosmonauts Volkov, Patsayev and Dobrovolsky perished on re-entry  when their spacecraft leaked air.

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