America Celebrates Her Moon Odyssey

America Celebrates Her Moon Odyssey



 Since the early sixties of the 20th Century, the Americans made both of their unmanned and manned space and moon missions the touchstone of American space endeavor as the space race with the Soviet Union was at its peak as the arms race is still is reminiscent of the continuous cold war. Both nations strive, as impelled by their respective chauvinistic drives, for space and planetary conquest by competing on a level playing field in outer space. Obviously, America is still dominant in the exploration and geological surveys of the moon, earth’s sole satellite that moves around it every 27 and ½ days and shines at night by light reflected by the sun.

For achieving that ideal, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in 1958, and started to operate in 1959 at on a tight budget of $ 338;9 Million and a total personnel of 9235, then increased to an appropriation numbered $ 5 billion dollars, then $ 5.2 billion dollars consecutively for three years 1993-1964-1965 during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as both kept their pledge to send astronauts to the moon.

Before the moon, a major unmanned space program saw the day with the space probe Voyager to initiate the remote-controlled probing of the red planet Mars in 1971- two years after the historic moon landing. The project baptised Apollo Extension Systems (AES) enabled the space probe to circumnavigate on various altitudes of earth’s neighboring planets. Unprecedentedly boosted, US Space Industry (SI) and the NASA-sponsored and enlarged activities made the personnel involved reach 400 000. The backbone of the American space organisation is the Houston-based Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) with two main launch areas: the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) and the Meritt Island in Florida. Both facilities became operational since 1966.


Before travelling to the moon, American space adventure made its preamble with unmanned flights with the space probe baptized Ranger launched on July 28, 1964, February 17, 1965 and March 21, 1965 afforded for the society of astronomers some 20 000 photographs invaluable for study and analysis of the meteorite-ridden moonscape. Afterwards, the space probe Surveyor launched for lunar soft landing missions. Three Rangers numbered VII to IX contributed precisely to the mapping of the splendid satellite or lunography that bemused passionate poets and astrologists before astronomers and astronauts: More Cognitum (Known Sea); More Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility) and Alphonus. Photographs were telematically transmitted to NASA’s TV screens. Both circumterrestrial and circumlunar navigations were an almost perfect performance in addition to the enormous record of the Pegasus Satellites orbited by the giant rocket Saturn I and Saturn IB engineered by the space rocket scientist. Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977), an American of German extraction who carried out experiments in ballistics and namely in rocketry since the Second World War.

The Apollo Program was a profit-making profiling of the moon’s singular geology. Apollo XI was a decisive journey that hogged the limelight in the lunar conquest’s chronology. The three American Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were aboard the space capsule propelled and orbited with a breathtaking velocity into the lunar orbit; Armstrong and Aldrin were impeccably instrumental as they carried out their baptism of fire: the moon landing by means of the Lunar Exploratory Module (LEM) that separated from its container capsule. Collins remained orbiting with the capsule around the moon. Upon the moon landing, Neil Armstrong, pressurized inside his shiny white space suit spangled with Stars and Stripes on his bosom moved gradually with his body lightened by the lunar weightlessness ( 1/6 of the terrestrial gravity) struggling smoothly and successfully pitched the American flag. The exceptional event in the history of America and humanity was proudly hyped up in all US and world media. To the greater glory of American nation, Apollo XI crew, in addition to the emotional exploration of all Americans, devised the magnificent miracle of space superiority over the Soviets, on 21 July 1969. That was unforgettably a distinguished record that American astronautics had achieved within a decade since the first American astronaut to orbit the earth in January 1965 was Colonel John Glenn, senator of Ohio and outgoing NASA Administrator.

The Post-Apollo prowess continued steadily with more technologically sophisticated space shuttles: Challenger, Endeavour, Discovery and Atlantis for more than three decades(1977-2009) whose main missions focused on building rootless, large-scale space platforms and carried out scientific experiments on gravity, calculated the probability of life’s existence and analyzed samples beneath other neighbouring, planetary environments of the Solar System. Actually, America’s greatest goal of prevailing in the skies, after the Almighty, as on the earth has been aborted by numerous space disasters such explosion of space shuttles Challenger and Columbia that compelled the incumbent Space Administration NASA to modify both its short-term and long-term prior programs and let the experts ponder on cut-and-dried solutions by taking into account both security, technical and budgetary concerns. The present severe, global engrossing economic crisis, to a great extent, holds back the standard enhancement of the contemporary space gadgetry still underrated by the challenging dimensions of our Solar System and the endless boundaries of our galaxy, the Milky Way in the hugely expanding Cosmos.

In the present circumstances, US President Barack Obama who has freshly commemorated and glorified the nostalgic moon feat of the Sixties with the well-respected US community of American astronauts once the US space’s exploratory engineering was laudably and unanimously extolled to the skies, still feels simultaneously optimistic and realistic after the NASA’s prognosis based on a sort of space perestroika that prescribes a forthcoming and enlarged, multinational space business that would combine the most eminent pundits in the Space sector and ease reasonably the burden of astronomical expenditures demanded in the inter-planetary enterprise.

If the dream of founding a World Space Agency (WSA) were fulfilled in the future, the space conquest would be feasible, manageable, economical and successful both in terms of budgetary capacity and hi-tech precision provided by the consortium of contestant countries within the framework of Strategic Space Partnership (SSP).

By Bouzekri Chakroune
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Mr.Bouzekri Chakroune is a long-time writer for numerous dailies, weekly and monthly magazines since 2002. As a self-funded, independent researcher, he is writing on a large variety of topics related to political, literary profiles, cultural and international issues.