Apollo liftoff


Forty years ago I was seven years old and this sight, dear reader, was the most thrilling thing in the whole world. Even now, seeing again the classic fisheye moment of Apollo 11’s launch sparks a buried flare of childhood excitement, resurrecting a deep obsession with astronauts, Saturn V rockets, command modules and lunar landing craft. In 1969 all I could do was gape in awe at our tiny black-and-white TV screen as it showed men going to the Moon right this minute!

Now I’m the same age as the astronauts of the Apollo missions I look at these photographs and feel at different kind of awe, at the courage required to sit at the top of a metal tower as tall as St Paul’s Cathedral filled with highly-combustible rocket fuel. And that’s before you get to the liftoff itself with its punishing g-forces, followed by navigating a vacuum for several days in a tin can controlled by less computer power than you’d find now in the average mobile phone. None of this occurred to me when I was seven, all that mattered was the fact that men were going to the Moon right this minute!


I’ll return to those childhood obsessions later (no, you don’t escape that easily). Meanwhile the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is naturally generating a fair amount of web attention. NASA has a new site, We Choose the Moon, which augments their older archives. And New Scientist tells us Why the moon still matters. On the same site there’s also Brian Eno discussing the Moon missions and his 1983 soundtrack album, Apollo, which I’m listening to right this minute!

Apollo 11 at the Big Picture
Weaving the way to the Moon | The beatnik and the little old ladies

Previously on { feuilleton }
East of Paracelsus

2 thoughts on “Apollo liftoff”

  1. ah yes … memorable it was … I was eight years old … the day of the landing … sent home from school … big brother and boarder go nuts in the kitchen cooking up a rice-riso lunch (omg) and big brother cuts his finger very badly

    the various Apollo missions generated so much excitement as a child …

  2. I remember specific details about Apollo 8 since it was the Christmas mission, not so much about 11 in any detail. And the landing here was late at night! But I watched all the TV transmissions voraciously. The later ones I remember well, coming home from school to see astronauts driving about in the Lunar Rover.

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