16 July: Apollo 11 lifts off

Who can forget this?

16 July 1969.

Very cool slo mo. Imagine what this would have been like with today’s tech?

Still.. it is simply awesome.

Saturn V!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JonPatrick says:

    Never actually witnessed an Apollo launch, but in spring of 1969 our Air Force ROTC class got to travel down to Cape Canaveral aboard an Air Force Reserve C-118 to tour the launch area including the VAB and control rooms. At the time Apollo 9 was on the launch pad, while 10 and 11 were being assembled in the VAB so it was a busy place. We also got to tour the Mercury and Gemini lauch sites and I remember how primitive those were even by 1969 standards. Those were some brave men who entrusted themselves to what was then state of the art.

  2. msc says:

    I’m a bit of a space nerd (eventually my room had Apollo program sheets and curtains), so I’m sad that I don’t have any memories of this–I would have been four and a half or so. It’s a mediocre poem, really, but I can’t help but recite it in my head:
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air…
    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark or even eagle flew —
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

  3. msc says:

    Oh yes, Paul VI made some good comments:

    “Honor, greetings and blessings to you, conquerors of the moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams,” Pope Paul VI said in a message to the three Apollo 11 astronauts who had just landed on the moon.
    The night of July 20-21, 1969, Pope Paul had spent time looking at the moon through the telescope of the Vatican Observatory at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Then he watched the actual landing and the first moon walk on television.
    But his message to the U.S. astronauts and a congratulatory telegram to then-President Richard Nixon represent only a tiny portion of what Pope Paul had to say about the expedition months before the July 16 launch and months after the July 24 return to earth.
    Marking the 40th anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the moon, Vatican Radio published its collection of Pope Paul’s audience and Angelus talks about the mission, his reflections on the day of the landing, and the text of his speech to astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, whom he met at the Vatican Oct. 16, 1969.
    Pope Paul told Armstrong that he was right on the mark in describing the mission as “one giant leap for mankind.”
    “Man has a natural urge to explore the unknown, to know the unknown; yet man has also a fear of the unknown,” Pope Paul told the three men. “Your bravery has transcended this fear and through your intrepid adventure man has taken another step toward knowing more of the universe.”
    Pope Paul told the men that the time, energy, talents, resources and teamwork behind their successful trip “pay tribute to the capacity of modern man to reach beyond himself, to reach beyond human nature, to attain the perfection of achievement made possible by his God-given talent.”
    The pope also prayed that people’s knowledge of God’s creation would continue to grow and that it would lead them to see more clearly God’s power, infinity and perfection.”

    God gave us the intelligence to see into his creation, and the desire to do so. To turn our backs on exploring the physical world is to turn our backs on an essential part of our nature.

  4. juergensen says:

    I have at times wondered if today we could pull off a moon landing. I have my doubts. In the 1950s and 1960s, engineers at NASA were chosen strictly on their qualifications. Today, any NASA moon landing team of engineers would be required to have a plethora of sexual, ethnic, religious, and racial minorities, qualified or not. Can’t you just see, the sodomite media celebrating the first transgender on the moon? God help us.

  5. WillP says:

    To this day, I don’t think I’ve seen a more awe-inspiring sight – at any rate a man-made one – than the launch of a Saturn V.

    My earliest memory of the “outside world” – i.e. anything outside of the immediate environment of home, school and church – is of the Apollo 8 mission, just a few months before this film was made; and specifically, the crew reading Genesis 1 as they circumnavigated the moon. I was just 7 at the time, and in view of my subsequent path in life I sometimes wonder how much influence that experience may have had on my forming mind.

  6. Tom Piatak says:

    ‘The sound alone was worth the $24 billion,” as Ray Price told Pat Buchanan as the Nixon speechwriters were watching the liftoff in Florida back in 1969.

    It was a different (and better) America.

  7. vandalia says:

    Unfortunately, technology is not the limiting factor, but rather our squeamishness.

    It is interesting to note that as our society loses consciousness of our supernatural ends, we cling to this life. Now, I would not endorse the wanton waste of human life that was casually accepted in past centuries, however, we have also become so risk-adverse that we are not willing to accept the loss of even one human life. (Well, one human life that is First World, handsome, articulate and engaging…)

    We are in the age of chasing our proverbial tails demanding that every person and place must be completely safe and secure. Human life entails risk. An honorable death should not be seen as a tragedy, but moving on to an infinitely greater reward.

    I do not believe a human will leave our planet ever again. The technology to go to Mars or the Moon exists today. We could probably do it with 99% safety. But society is not willing to accept any risk.

  8. kenned1105 says:

    This is a great post to announce that Father Z will be headed back to outer space in the forthcoming “Beyond the Shroud of the Universe.” Father Z. appeared in the earlier “Theogony” trilogy, where he appeared to die…but did he? Here’s a snippet, suggesting otherwise:

    Father Zuhlsdorf’s head was on his chest, but when he heard his name, he lifted it and tried to focus his bleary eyes on Calvin.
    “But…you’re dead,” said Calvin.
    “Nothing so exciting…as a return from…the Existential Peripheries,” replied the priest. “The truth is…much more mundane. He kidnapped me.”

    If you’re interested, the first book in the trilogy, “The Search for Gram” just launched last week, and “Beyond the Shroud of the Universe” will be available in October. For more information, check out http://chriskennedypublishing.com/publishedworks/the-search-for-gram-book-1-of-the-codex-regius/

    Chris Kennedy

    [This should be interesting!]

  9. Cantor says:

    Sorry, Juergensen, but I cannot let your comment stand.

    When I pulled a short tour at JSC/Houston, I was privileged to work with some of the best and brightest. This included a black Lieutenant Colonel and female Captain who were among the tops in their field.

    Yes, it is diversified. You’ll never again see the all-white-guys control center, nor should you. With new and different people come new and different ideas, so your return trip to the moon will also be new and different. Personally, I’m proud that our nation has opened itself to accept it.

    As for your lunar transgender, fear not. Somebody will be sure to remind you that “he” became a “she” just to get a better chance for the ride.

  10. Mike says:

    Though I don’t recall the liftoff of Apollo 11 at all, I do remember the landing vividly. That my six-year-old self was allowed to stay up past 11 to watch TV made much more of an impression at the time, I rue to admit, than anything some guy named Armstrong (or anybody else) said.

    More subtle and worthy considerations fueled my love of astronomy and space flight into my adolescence, but my interest started to wane with the end of the moon-launch program.

  11. iamlucky13 says:

    “Imagine what this would have been like with today’s tech?”

    Not really significantly different, actually. Rocketry effectively plateaued in the lead-up to the Apollo program. There’s only so much useful energy in any given chemical fuel, and tradeoffs to be made in each fuel choice, such as the very low density of liquid hydrogen versus its relatively high energy content. There’s been a few percent improvement in engine performance, various new materials that allow lower weights, new design and manufacturing tools that help reduce cost, and of course improved computers for more accurate control, but the basic technology is all very similar.

    There’s concepts being kicked around for changing elements here or there. For example, NASA’s current leading concept for a manned Mars mission (still not under serious consideration) would use an inflatable habitation module to provide the astronauts more living room during the 6 month trip each way, and a nuclear thermal rocket (a technology first successfully ground tested in the 1960’s) to actually propel the mission from low earth orbit to Mars, but even ideas like these don’t radically alter the scale and conduct of such a mission compared to what was developed in the Apollo era.

    “Today, any NASA moon landing team of engineers would be required to have a plethora of sexual, ethnic, religious, and racial minorities, qualified or not.”

    There are elements of that within NASA today, but the bulk of the employees are competent and motivated. Unfortunately, they’re also poorly directed, having suffered the treatment of NASA as a political football by the last 6 or 7 presidents in a row, as well as the accompanying congresses. At the top level, the political appointees who run NASA are more worried about protecting the image of the president than accomplishing anything.

    It was almost hilarious were it not so infuriating to watch George W. Bush. prattle on about his idea for a revitalized space program that would leverage existing shuttle technology to keep the budget increases necessary to return to the moon and lay a foundation for Mars to a minimum…right before he cut NASA’s budget (and then Congress further trimmed his requests).

    His act was followed by a true circus of Obama desperately trying to avoid doing anything with the space program, yet while maintaining its budget at the same level – spending money doing nothing. As far as I could figure out, Obama’s plan for NASA was to avoid committing to any measurable goal, but to still use NASA jobs as an election talking point. Ultimately, he was undermined by frustrated NASA engineers developing hardware and mission concepts after hours on their own time that inspired a widespread push to do actually do something. This evolved into the Space Launch System (SLS) NASA is currently developing, but there still is no commitment to actually let NASA do anything with the SLS rocket.

  12. Dcduo says:

    I can imagine 4.30 of that video as being something like Moses must have seen atop Mt Sinai.

  13. juergensen says:


    Google “NASA’s Muslim Outreach”. Add “Obama” for fun.

  14. Elizabeth D says:

    I was so fascinated by the launch of the Space Shuttles when I was a child. I was watching with eager interest in “Teacher in Space” Christa McAuliffe when Challenger exploded. Apollo was before I was born. This is an incredible video and amazing narration. The brilliance of the people who could make this happen.

    Today I was at the farmer’s market in Madison and a WWII era USAF 4-prop bomber flew over!

  15. Mike says:

    I distinctly remember parish elementary school classrooms with a B&W TV fixed to a top corner of the room…the nuns let us watch several splashdowns. Also, my first television memory was the three flag-drapped coffins of the brave Apollo 1 astronauts.

    Yes, there were hippies starting in 1968-69, but, yes, a different time.

  16. Cantor says:

    Elizabeth D –

    Might’ve been any of a number of heavies. You are fortunate to be in the heart of Heavy Bomber Weekend! Get over there and enjoy!

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    Oh interesting, Cantor. Yes, there are old airplanes buzzing around up high in the sky right now if I step outside. It didn’t look exactly like any of the planes in photos on that site, although the form was like some of them this was painted a dark color like dark olive green and actually had “USAF” painted on the nearside flank (left side between the wing and the tail… I am a horse person). Whereas historically USAF planes seemed to have a star design there; maybe this plane was a historic plane actually owned and flown by the Air Force for recruiting/pr purposes. I found a list of airworthy b-17s and none of them matched the paint I saw so it was probably some other thing.

  18. Bob B. says:

    Having just graduated from high school, I remember everyone sitting around the TV set for a couple of hours watching Apollo 11 launch and land.
    When I taught in Catholic schools, I developed my own Space component for science, where I included topics such as gravity, acceleration, being able to “catch the moon” for landing, etc, I would also show the movie Apollo 13 and crank up the volume of the TV when it showed its launch – it helped bring home the magnificence of the launch.
    I would also divide the class into teams, each taking a different Apollo mission to report on. I’d invite the principal to watch and have a mission patch of the mission they reported on for each student. (Many of my former students still have them.)
    During the Space Shuttle era, I was fortunate enough to have an astronaut actually answer some 20 specific questions from our class.
    It was a great thing to do as a teacher and the students and parents liked it as well.

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