G Mission

“When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, NASA’s plan was to continue manned lunar missions through Apollo 20. But history turned out differently. The last three missions, still in planning stages, were canceled. Hardware that would have flown to the moon ended up as museum exhibits. And scientists and space enthusiasts were left to contemplate what Apollos 18 through 20 might have accomplished.

“On January 4, 1970, less than six months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left humanity’s first lunar footprints, NASA announced Apollo 20’s cancellation. Eight months later, the agency announced the scrapping of Apollo 19 as well as the original mission slated for Apollo 15 (Apollo 16 was renumbered 15, thereby giving the remaining two missions numbers 16 and 17).

“The three missions were canceled two to three years before they would have flown, so plans were still fluid as to their landing sites, crew assignments and other features. Similar to Apollos 15 through 17, but aimed at more scientifically rewarding, albeit riskier, landing sites, they likely would have been what NASA called “J” missions, involving three-day stays on the moon and the use of rovers to expand the scope of exploration. Such missions allowed broader sampling than the earlier “H” missions. (Apollo 11 alone was a “G” mission, focused primarily on landing and return.)

“Various possible landing sites were discussed in early planning. Among these were Copernicus, Gassendi and Tycho, large impact craters containing central peaks that were thrust upward at the time of impact, bringing material from deep within the lunar crust to the surface. Such craters provide a record of the solar system’s early history; a similar record on Earth has long since been obscured by plate tectonics, erosion and other processes. “The moon,” Schmitt says, “is where we’re going to get the information ultimately on what kind of environment existed on Earth at a time when the precursors to life were actually forming.”

“For both Apollo 17 and the canceled missions, Schmitt pressed NASA officials to consider a particularly ambitious objective: the Tsiolkovsky crater, located on the moon’s far side. “None of the Apollo missions were planned to land on the far side, and that is an awfully large area to leave unexplored,” Schmitt says. His proposal, perceived as too costly and risky, made little headway. Among its requirements would have been placing a communication satellite beyond the moon to maintain a radio link with Earth…”

Kenneth Sibler, Down to Earth: The Apollo Moon Missions That Never Were, Scientific American, July 16th, 2009.

Advertisements

“Beatles in dialog with Buddy Holly…”

“Fans began to take over creative responsibility in the world of Science Fiction as early as the mid-thirties; I doubt that by the mid-seventies there were many major practitioners in the genre who had not started out as a passionate, Con-going, zine-compiling fans. The second great age of American cinema was entirely created by fans (Coppola, Scorsese, Rafelson, Ashby, Spielberg, Lucas, et al) ; The Godfather is as much about the intensive study of gangster films as it is about gangsters. Same goes, even more so, for Scorsese. Rock and roll, same deal. The Beatles work is fan fiction on the work of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers: It’s not simple (or even complex) imitation; it’s elaboration, infilling, transformation, a strategic redployment of the tropes and figures of the source material/primary text; the Beatles are in dialog with Buddy Holly, as Badfinger was in dialog with the Beatles and Jellyfish with Badfinger. Or you could go Stones/Stooges/Sex Pistols. The word “influence” is insufficient and too one-sided to describe a relationship that is much more accurately reflected by the system of tribute/ appropriation/critique that fandom employs. This kind of process, by which one generation of fan/critics (because anyone who doesn’t understand that a fan is a critic doesn’t know what a fan is, and there is nothing sadder to contemplate than the idea of a critic who is not also a fan) becomes the creators whose work inspires and obsesses and is critiqued by the next generation of fans, who in turn become critic-creators, has occurred in every popular art form across the board going back fifty or five thousand years. The apostles wrote fan fiction on Torah…”

Q: Why do you think such a high proportion of alternate history novels revolve around World War II in some way or another? Do you think it’s different for authors who weren’t alive during World War II and the Holocaust to imagine them turning out differently, than for someone like, say, Philip K. Dick, who was in high school during the war?

“Well, of course PKD did a pretty fair job of imagining just that in THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. I think the thing about WWII is that it was so huge, so important, so clearly one of the two or three most significant periods in human history — and yet even a cursory study of it reveals it to have been woven of dozens if not hundreds of teensy little frail threads which, if pulled or tucked a different way, might easily have produced a completely different outcome. Say, for example, that the British Navy had not captured a German cypher machine from a sunk U-Boat in 1941. Cracking of the navy codes is delayed… key messages are never intercepted…”


Geeking Out About Genres with Michael Chabon
, io9

The search for truth and understanding

Moon.crater.arp.750pix

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. This speech, revealed in 1999, was prepared by Nixon’s then speechwriter, William Safire, to be used in the event of a disaster that would maroon the astronauts on the moon. Watergate.info