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July 21, 2009

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The specials on TV yesterday about the moon landing,the incredible work of the 100's of thousands of engineers, controllers and others who built the space program and concurrent recollections of Walter Conkite's life brought back wonderful memories of this momentous event in human history and where I was at the time growing up in east Texas, not that all that far from Johnson Space Center.

One of my favorite movies about that time is "The Dish" set in a small Australian town(Parkes,NSW) with a radiotelescope which transmitted the images of the moonwalk. The movie is a wonderful mixture of gentle self-deprecating humor,scientific enthusiasm and infectious pride in an event that represented some of best of our human ideals, not just a momentary show of triumphal nationalism.

http://thedishmovie.warnerbros.com/index_noflash.html

http://thedishmovie.warnerbros.com/overview.html

In reference to your photos,those richly dark moon and star filled skies where expansive the uncluttered, un-light polluted horizons can allow the mind to relax, wonder, discover and devise are one of the reasons that there is so much influence in astronomy and math came from ancient desert dwellers.

http://mec.sas.upenn.edu/marhaba/astronomy.htm

Jules - yes, I fully agree - saw The Dish some years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

And you talk of the work of the multitudes of people who made the the moon landing possible - there's a great article in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/jun/21/apollo-fallen-dream) from which the following is taken:

"For example, at the Grumman factory in New Jersey, where the lunar module was built, staff would clock off at 5pm, leave by the front door, walk round to the back and work for free until midnight. Similarly, employees at the International Latex Corporation - which made the suits worn by the Apollo astronauts - worked with equally obsessive intensity. In a recent documentary, the company's senior seamstress, Eleanor Foraker, recalled working 80-hour weeks without days off or holidays for three continuous years, suffering two nervous breakdowns in the process. "I would leave the plant at five o'clock in the morning and be back by seven. But it was worth it, it really was."

Thanks Michael,

Yes, last night there where two shows about moon machines, one on the Rover and other on the Lunar module. It was very apparent how dedicated and imaginative these engineers and technicians were to the tasks they had before them,and even though they admitted the stress could be enormous at times, it was a love and inspiration of the mission that kept them going. I really admire the incredible talent, organization and cooperation that was needed to complete this magnificent endeavor.

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