The Saturn V rocket on the launchpad, ready to start the Apollo 11 mission.

Image credit: NASA

 

50 years ago, on July 16, 1969, at 9:32 in the morning, the Apollo 11 mission launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Saturn V rocket. This was going to be the culmination of decades of work, and on July 20th, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would walk on the moon, the first two people in human history to do it. This Saturday, July 20th, is the 50th anniversary of the landing! There is a wealth of interesting things out there about the moon landing and the Apollo missions as a whole, but here are a couple to get you up to speed. I’ve read and watched most of this by this point, so I can happily tell you it’s quality stuff.

First: NASA is running a lot of events (including live streams) in honor of the 50th anniversary. They have a whole schedule on their website, and I highly recommend taking a look!

Second: NASA has released some stunning photos in honor of the anniversary. Check ’em out, all for free! You won’t even need your Tufts Login!

Third: if you prefer to read (or need to keep your roving data costs down when off of WiFi), I’d recommend checking out Amy Shira Teitel’s Twitter account. She runs a very interesting  YouTube channel called Vintage Space, and there are few laypeople quite as well steeped in space exploration history (particularly of NASA and its missions) as she is. Over on Twitter, however, she’s doing a live stream text and video of the full Apollo 11 mission, as it was happening. You can pretend you’re in 1969, but without the pesky interference of not having your smartphone!

Fourth: Books! If you want to honor this anniversary by digging into the moon missions and NASA a little bit more, Tufts has got you covered. For instance, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journey is the autobiography by Michael Collins, the pilot of the Apollo 11 mission. While Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, Collins orbited in the spacecraft, and is the man who got them there and back safely. Moon Shot: the Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon and Almost Heaven: the Story of Women in Space can also add some interesting context for you in space travel. If you want something a little more close to home (since we are a health sciences campus), there’s always Trailblazing Medicine: Sustaining Explorers During Interplanetary Missions. But if you’re going to be sitting on a beach and want something a bit more…fictional, you could to a whole lot worse than the very popular (and very funny) book The Martian by Andy Weir. These are only the tip of the rocket, of course. Poke around on JumboSearch and who knows what you’ll find! And don’t forget, if you want anything from one of the other Tufts Libraries, all you need to do is Request Book. You might not get it in time to read it this weekend, but there’s still plenty of 50th anniversary summer ahead of us.

Finally, I will leave you with this list of breakthroughs & advances. Space exploration is a dangerous game, and scientists need to stay one step ahead of nature if humans are to survive in such a hostile environment. Luckily, when they do, life down here on Earth can get a little better too – everything from LED lights and memory foam to better firefighting equipment and prosthetic limbs owes a bit of debt (or its existence entirely) to missions like Apollo 11.

So, for a few moments this Saturday, if you look around at the technology that powers your life, perhaps take a look upward, too, at the moon, and reflect for a moment on all the brave and brilliant people that made that event possible 50 years ago. What a wild ride it’s been.

Ad astra,
Tom

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