Everyone has a favorite government program. If a man won’t admit that he does, he’s either lying or he’s dead. For me, it’s the National Park Service. While I question the need for the operation per se, at least their domain is of mountains and forests. The Post Office, bad press aside, always seemed to me to get the job done. And, then there’s the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. At full throttle, the old Space Shuttle (with launch vehicle) was pushing around 700 MILLION horsepower. That’s 2,800 times the juice of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and 1,000,000 times the raw ability of an “overpowered” muscle car. That’s just cool stuff.
The Saturn V Rockets produced similarly staggering dyno readings. Those were the monsters that hurled the Apollo capsules towards the Moon. It was fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, that Neil Armstrong became the first man in history to set foot on the lunar surface. “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Indeed.
Buzz Aldrin and the flag. Picture courtesy of NASA.
While this feat pales in comparison to the wit and wisdom of the rappers, while it did nothing to address man-made climate tax warming, and as it falls short of the spectacle that is “Love Island,” it’s still a fairly impressive accomplishment. By anyone’s standards. I’ve had two problems with it.
First, there’s the issue of whether it ever even happened in the first place. I’ve read and reviewed and dismissed as crankery almost all accounts of “the hoax.” For every tin-foil hat conspiracy issue raised there really is a valid explanation. The next time someone poses the great Van Allen Belt hypothesis to you, just counter by asking him to explain what base field forces he's talking about. Ask him to get spectral. Case closed. But, there is one item that falls outside the general Flat Earth silliness - THE MOON ROCKS.
One alleged sample, gifted to the Dutch, was revealed to be nothing more than common petrified wood. Oops! I’m going to, for the sake of moving this along, dismiss that as a human clerical error (there’s a lot of rocks floating around museums). However, there are not so many transuranic isotopes in ordinary circulation. NASA’s own spectrometric analysis of the collected samples revealed the (still totally unexplained) presence of elements known only to occur (artificially) on Earth. Think, Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 and any number of Thorium.
The crackpots are on the chemical trail too, explaining that: 1) we obviously had an earlier secret space program that contaminated the lunar surface, or 2) ET once vacationed by the Sea of Tranquility. More sane individuals alternatively suggest this is proof that the whole thing just didn’t happen. I disagree with all of them. The odds of certain Plutoniums, or even Brass, naturally synthesizing on the Moon are astronomically low. But, they exist, and as we’re talking about astronomy … it’s possible. It’s equally possible that the mass readings were off or that there was Earth-based contamination. In other words, I’m giving NASA the benefit of the doubt over and above their own reports - another small step for man.
I like to believe we did go to the moon. I’m 100% confident we had the ability to do so. In fact, we had - in the 1960s - better potential propellant technology available than the chemical rockets actually deployed. There’s just one thing…
My real reason to ever question the official account of the Lunar program is that it is the OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. The U.S. government is the source, here. With only a few, extraordinary exceptions, I never believe anything professed by Washington. But, friends, right here and now I’m going to make Apollo one of those few and far betweens. Hell, I’ll just assume that this was the first time that any of them told the truth since Andy Jackson said he was getting rid of the Second Bank. Another giant leap… Why?
For starters, it’s been fifty years and it was a program involving thousands of people. If it was a hoax, then by now someone (someone who knew something, not your friend’s uncle who worked at the gas station across the street from the Space Center) would have broken down. They haven’t. This is similar to the phenomenon of billions of people continuing to profess the Divinity of Christ for twenty centuries despite all those counter “proofs” offered up by the “smart” ¡SCIENCE! folks (the ones still hung up on those four forces pulling on Mr. Allen’s belt…). The facts presented blend into the historical fabric nicely.
And, history provides another loose example to sustain (if not prove) the government’s narrative. The age of space exploration is akin to the earlier great Age of Exploration of the seas. The exceptional voyages were all initially funded by the crown monarchs of Europe. The GubMint sent Columbus and Magellan where no (accurately recording) man had gone before. Then, the private mariners took over. Today, the vast majority of international shipping is conducted in the interests of commerce and/or transportation, with the combined ships of the world’s governments mainly serving only to shoot at each other. So it will happen in space. It’s already happening.
NASA operates in the past tense. Apollo and Saturn were fifty years ago. The mighty STS only lasted three decades. NASA currently has no operational crewed vehicle at all. But, the US does have a multitude of companies and individuals getting ready to take the helm. And, they will - someday extending those steps and leaps far beyond the Moon. But, they and we owe the kick-start to men like Armstrong and Aldrin and the incredible perseverance of a half-century ago. Salute.
- Perrin Lovett -
CF Floyd Feature Writer of National Affairs