World leaders know the first nation to conquer SPACE will RULE THE WORLD! Just WHERE does the SPACE-RACE war stand NOW?THEY DID IT!
Climaxing "the most fantastic adventure story in all human history," as one European newspaper called it, America's Apollo 8 spacecraft — with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders aboard — splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean a scant 7,000 yards and a mere 11 seconds off a perfect bulls-eye.
Flawless Performance It was a flight in which everything had to go right. And everything important did.
Little more could have been asked of the 363-foot-tall Saturn-Apollo space vehicle, with its six million pounds of space hardware and 3½ million moving parts.
The colossal 36-story Saturn 5 rocket had never before launched a manned spacecraft, making the mission even more remarkable. And the little Service Propulsion System (SPS) that inserted the astronauts into lunar orbit — and blasted them out from it — performed perfectly. It was the only major system aboard the spacecraft designed without a complete back-up system.
All in all, Apollo 8's performance was a tremendous tribute to Boeing Aircraft, North American Rockwell and the 15,000 other firms which helped build Saturn-Apollo.
New Firsts The three American astronauts set several records on their epic six-day voyage into space.
1) They became the first human beings to escape the earth's gravitational pull.
2) They became history's fastest men as their tiny satellite was propelled from earth orbit at nearly 25,000 miles an hour. They reentered at about the same speed.
3) Borman, Lovell, and Anders went farther into space — 237,000 miles — than any other humans have gone. This distance was attained while orbiting the moon December 25.
4) They were, of course, the first to orbit the moon, which they did ten times at an altitude of approximately 69 miles.
5) They were the first to see and photograph the back side of the bleak earth satellite.
What's Next? Next step ahead in America's 25 billion-dollar program to land men on the moon will be Apollo 9, an earth-orbital flight to take place in February or March. On this mission the critical lunar landing module will be given its first test.
Apollo 10, scheduled for mid-May, will attempt another lunar orbit. The plan is for two or three astronauts to descend in the lunar module, perhaps even to contact the moon's surface. But the astronauts, as now planned, will not leave the module.
The Apollo goal is scheduled to be reached in July or August via Apollo 11. This is to be the first time astronauts will leave their lunar module, spending up to 3 hours photographing the moon's surface and collecting soil and rock samples.
I Was There I was at the cape for the blast-off of the huge Saturn 5, with its cargo of sophisticated equipment and three human lives. It was an emotional, vastly impressive experience. All of us, to some degree or another, probably felt very closely identified with these three brave men as they were being hurtled away from earth — and toward the moon.
Later, back at Ambassador College Texas campus, I watched each new televised report on the flight of Apollo 8. Like millions of others around the world, I was especially moved by the reading of portions of the first chapter of Genesis as the three men in their tiny, gleaming capsule began their final journey around the hidden side of the moon — knowing they would have to fire their engine in the service module for a precision burn while out of radio contact with earth — and that by the time they were heard from again it would either be an accomplished fact that this hugely critical point had been passed successfully, or that they were hopelessly lost in lunar orbit. None of us could say we KNEW, one way or the other, which would be true when the Apollo 8 crewmen were heard from again. As Houston Space Center lost radio contact with Borman, Lovell and Anders, I was compelled to put my thoughts of the moment into type.
Then — I could not have known the outcome — nor what the men would later say when they emerged to tell of a successful trans-earth insertion. But here's the way it impressed me then — in what was obviously "Their loneliest hour"...
I have just come to my typewriter after hearing the transmission from Apollo 8 at a few minutes after 9:00 p.m., Central Standard time, as the three astronauts began their tenth and final orbit, hopefully, of the lunar surface.
I was moved — deeply — by their choice of words, quoted directly from Genesis I, verses 1 through 10, to the peoples on this earth. They did not choose some trite poetry, or children's tale of Santa Claus. They didn't waste their precious, 240,000 mile transmission with claim to have spotted Santa leaving the pole.
They had no personal words for their families.
They had no prayers for themselves. They read, simply, and without explanation or apology, the record of the creation of earth, and of the moon. Why?
Was it because, as they had said only moments before, they had found the moon to be bleak, barren, forbidding and foreboding — a place where no one would want to live and work? Was it because they continually referred to the emptiness of the chaotic, asteroid-bombarded, disfigured face of the moon as "lonely?" Was it because, seeing the bluish, white orb in the vastness of inky blackness that is earth, they were the most completely, incredibly and forlornly lonely human beings in all history.
Whatever their motives — these three brave, courageous, professional military men — men with thousands of hours as pilots; men with (two of them) more time in space than any other living men — were moved to read to earthlings the words of the creation. The words of God.
The journals will forget this. History will ignore it. The history-making epic, with all the records tumbling; distance from earth, speed of travel, leaving the earth's gravitational field, entering the lunar orbital path, photographing, the moon; sending live TV pictures back; these and a host of other historic accomplishments will take precedence.
Astronomers, biologists, evolutionists all will leap on each tiny tidbit of information — sift it; decipher it; translate and interpret it, and try to piece together some fabric of credibility out of the shattered shards of their empty theories of the gradual evolution of life.
But, damning their hypocrisy, forever giving the lie to their theories — will echo from space the prayers of three courageous men; "May God bless all of you on the earth — the good earth!"
As if recognizing — deeply — the soul-shaking sights they were viewing — as if apologizing, in part, for having trespassed into forbidding space, these brave men turned to the Bible in their loneliest hour. To the word of God they sought. And from the word of God, they quoted the TRUE ORIGIN of the earth, and the moon — and so acknowledged their God, and their Creator.
What the newsmen will forget is that history was made, too, when mankind for the first time prayed from the moon. That man sent back the WORD of God to earth — from the moon.
Cynics, evolutionists — even many scientists intimately involved in the Apollo series will find it in their hearts to "overlook" the "sentiments" of these three men as being something thrown to expectant earthlings on "Christmas eve."
They will refuse to understand.
Somehow, though, I think these three men did understand. Somehow — through their reading of God's own word about the origins of earth and moon — I believe they grasped a greater and broader truth — understood more deeply than ever their place in this universe; came to appreciate the bounteous blessings of "mother earth"; and to feel the sorrow and shame that mankind cannot find the way to live peacefully and productively upon it.
No, they didn't joke, then — nor quote traditional poetry or hymn — they didn't indulge in drama to appease the vain. They read the account of creation...
So much for my thoughts at the moment.
But reflecting upon the many, many analogies that can be applied to Apollo 8, after watching the success of this space-age spectacular — I couldn't help but think of the same things many journalists wrote of in the wake of the safe return of these three men.
The fact that multiple billions of dollars are being spent to build up equipment to prove man can survive, briefly, in hideously hostile environment — while we continue to live in an environment filled with race hatred, the population explosion and starvation, the inner city ghetto, and war.
Almost everyone must have speculated during Apollo 8 about the facts that we do live on the "good earth" — and that it is ONE world in the emptiness of forbidding space — and that man seems ready, now, to end his brief span upon it.
Millions must have reflected on the divided races, religions, governments and peoples of this earth; on the crying need of people from Biafra to Red China, and on the desperate need to show man how to remain alive and healthy right here on earth, instead of barely surviving in a cramped space capsule; being bombarded with harmful ultra violet rays, eating by squeezing concentrates out of plastic bags — surviving in an empty, airless, lonely, hostile environment never meant for human survival.
All should know the space race is most definitely NOT just scientific. Neither is it purely military — though both the scientific and military overtones are obvious. The space race is PRIMARILY to capture the admiration and imagination of other nations!
It is an attempt to DEMONSTRATE SUPERIORITY to the world — to be the "NUMBER ONE" of the nations of this world. As such, it is definitely NOT scientific in the true sense.
Yes, there are many analogies that can be drawn. A few: We can bring three men back safely from the moon — but we can't bring our boys home from Vietnam. We can cooperate between dozens of huge corporations to produce a huge missile; but we can't cooperate as neighbors and races.
We can pioneer in space — but we can't pioneer in human understanding.
We can be supremely dedicated in a race to explore space — but totally unmoved by the critical pollution problem here below.
We can spend billions of dollars on a huge burst of power from giant engines destined to plunge into the sea — but can't find the money to clean up our slums and "slurbs" in our cities.
And a host of other comparisons might be drawn.
No, the space race is not just military, and not just scientific.
It is a "great adventure," with exciting, daring, pioneering feats which have always challenged man's thoughts. It is a great GAMBLE, too, with billions of dollars and precious human lives.
But for all the glowing success, the fantastic, history-breaking achievement — you must ask, "What, on earth, good is it?"