Science

Former astronaut says NASA’s aim to send humans to Mars is ridiculous

Former astronaut says NASA’s aim to send humans to Mars is ridiculous”

The winter solstice marks the day with the shortest period of daylight when Earth's orbital motion points the South Pole most closely in the direction of the sun.

Robots are already exploring Mars with NASA's Insight probe successfully landing on the Red Planet last month. "There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that's how it came to pass". Yet the crew hadn't been told what to say. But with that spacecraft still not ready, NASA took the bold decision to launch a command and service module around the Moon by itself as a precursor to a crewed landing. Thereare also special tools used in orbit.

'When I talk to people, Earthrise comes up all the time as a motivating factor, not just for Earth Day, but for their engagement in the environmental movement.

Whereupon, in a surge of audacity and élan, NASA switched gears.

KELLY: That accident was Apollo 13, two years after Apollo 8, 1970, a near disaster of a mission after an oxygen tank exploded en route to the moon.

The risks were enormous. But on Christmas Eve, 1968, the capsule made it to the lunar orbit.

Could the Saturn V and the Apollo spaceship be ready in time? In fact, it had only been tested twice - and the second test, in April, had gone very badly.

Popular Mechanics: "Why Apollo 8 Mattered" - "The small step for man, the giant leap for mankind, Eagle One, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong-Apollo 11 gets all the glory".

Located among the gum trees and kangaroos just outside Canberra, Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station listened for the crucial acquisition of signal as the spacecraft emerged from behind the Moon on its final orbit, having fired its engine to return to Earth. Although it seemed like we were right there with them, Apollo 8 really was really very much alone.

It's also remembered for unparalleled tragedies: the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

Retired NASA astronaut Bill Anders has said that sending humans to Mars is a "stupid" idea which is verging on "ridiculous".

Borman likewise has the same no-nonsense perspective on Apollo 8.

Anders, along with crewmates Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, completed 10 orbits around the Moon in December 1968. Only now, on Christmas Eve day, 1968, nobody knew it. We followed their careers as if they were rock stars, watching launch after launch, splash down after splash down, mourning when three of them died before ever taking off, cheering with each success.

"Some of the odds of trying to be successful in that mission are overwhelming, and perhaps at that time we didn't even understand what the odds were", he said.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth ..." And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

BORMAN: And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas.

LEWIS: The U.S. and the Soviet Union had spent the 1960s locked in the space race, and getting to the moon first was a thrilling achievement.

To the relief of mission controllers, fixes added by engineers aimed at reducing the vibrations (of "pogo") that had almost led to the loss of the previous Saturn V launch worked, and the combined stack of the S-IVB third stage, service module and command module were slotted into Earth orbit. "Then, one after another, those scientists and engineers in Houston began to cry".

It alone may have been enough to secure Apollo 8's place in the conscience of humanity.

Bill Anders is one of them, still flying high at age 85. The astronauts' words could not have more perfectly suited the moment.

Note, Anders was one of the first people who have left the Earth's orbit and flew around the moon aboard "Apollo 8" in 1968.



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