Something for Thursday

I read a news story yesterday that put me in the mood for this (and now I’ll need to watch the movie one of these days): the launch scene from Apollo 13.

This is one of the most masterful sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s very kinetic, but every shot seems to lead into the next, and the utter thrill of such an event as launching a Saturn V rocket on a mission to the moon is perfectly juxtaposed with the calm, professional precision with which all these people do their jobs. This particular video omits one tiny detail: we start with Flight Controller Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) asking the individual departments to check in. But immediately prior to that, which we don’t see here, Kranz takes a calm sip of coffee from his coffee cup. That’s it…but it’s in the way Ed Harris plays it, as a guy at total command of his resources who basically says, “OK, one more sip of my coffee, and then, let’s launch this rocket ship.”

The news story I mention above? Apparently an expedition financed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has located the engines of Apollo 11, the mission that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon, sitting at the bottom of the sea. Bezos hopes to raise all or part of the engines back to the surface, which would be an amazing feat. I don’t know what shape they’d be in, but what an amazing artifact of our own technological past to recover!

Although…I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit saddened that we’re excited to fine the used pieces of our old spaceships, when at the same time we don’t seem all that interested in building new ones.

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2 Responses to Something for Thursday

  1. Jason says:

    Geez, now I'm going to have to go watch that movie again myself… great flick.

    As for Bezos's plan to recover the F-1 engines, I honestly don't see the point. We still have the plans for them, as well as physical examples, so it's not like a forgotten technology we need to recover. It's not a case of a technology that failed and we wish to understand what happened, e.g., the Titanic. Sounds to me like it's a case of a wealthy guy with an obsession who wants a very pricey souvenir for himself.

    And I agree with your final sentiment. But then I'm sure you knew I would…

  2. New York Erratic says:

    Well, rich people like to do crazy stuff. I'd rather they search for buried history than just conspicuous consumption.

    Besides, are you going to say it was a waste of time to look for King Tut's tomb just because there's other mummies?

    The loss of the space program is a little sad, but it was expensive and, honestly, from a scientific perspective not that useful.

    I want to explore the oceans. It's less expensive and there's so much to learn down there. We didn't know that there were ecosystems without sunlight until deep dives by Alvin in the Galapagos in 1977. And until Cameron went down a few days ago, we hadn't been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench since the Trieste in 1960.

    The ocean is like the rain forest. There could be valuable things such as new life or potential medicines down there. The moon's just a rock. A cool rock, but still a rock.

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