About Me

Rob Pincombe is a prolific television writer, recovering comedian and sometime comic artist/storyboard artist who just wasn't satisfied with a single blog. He writes about sci-fi and fandom at rebelalert.com, Canadian comics at comicanuck.com, and shares thoughts and insights on writing at starkravingadventure.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Footprints Fading : On 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA discovers tapes erased!

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." - President John F. Kennedy in a speech before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961.

"It's too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away." - President L.B. Johnson on the end of the Apollo Space program.

Welcome to the rebellion.

With all of the wonders of the future now in our hands (Light speed travel to distant galaxies, the ability to travel in time and enter the body of various people to help them fix their hash of a life), it can be easy to forget the monumental achievement that the Apollo 11 landing was for man and womankind.

Geese, that was like the stone age then and yet they hit the friggin' moon and came back on the third try! Seriously, with like, rubber bands and hope they walked on the moon. And yes, Canadians had a small role in it according to Canadian Press.

Our Canadarm contribution to the Space Shuttle program, er, sorry, the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), was not our first behind the scenes space assist. The first feet to step on the Moon were not Neil Armstrong's, but rather the Canadian-made legs of the lunar module. Apparently, busy Canadian beavers that we are, we started at the bottom with NASA and worked our way up from the feet to the arms.

But think about this whole, walking on the moon thing.

Let's see, July 16, 1969... Americans and Canadians back then were passing out cigarettes to babies, still thought Vietnam could be won with tanks, were sure oil was a magically, endlessly renewable resource and were treating our lakes and oceans like our own personal toilet (Well, that last one hasn't changed so much). And yet, those NASA badasses and their government worked together to aspire to something greater; to explore space and the moon so that Ron Reagan could later try to make it into his personal, Space Invaders game.

Both the Washington Post's commemorative edition headline and
The Onion's fake headline from their book "Our Dumb Century"
capture the achievement and the moment.

A number of cool things are happening to mark the 4oth anniversary of Apollo 11.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has photographed the area and has identified not just the descent stage but also astronauts footprints and instruments left behind. NASA plans a return to the moon if only to find the keys to Aldrin's old locker at Cape Canaveral. The moon is the only place he hasn't looked for them and his locker is really starting to stink up the place.

Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and
What's His Name (Command Module pilot Michael Collins).

You can also check the amazing website, WeChosetheMoon.org, which is replaying the mission timeline in real time, so you can wait with baited for each update and follow it along. And wait and wait. It can also be an add-on to your desktop so you can follow mission events as they occur. A very clever way to show a generation hooked on instant news and Twitter what it was to be in suspense as the mission went on. Brilliant.

Buzz Aldrin remains a passionate emissary for the space program and proved he's willing to do just about anything to get the message out. And I do mean anything.

See what I mean? And you have to love the man for it because NASA itself its dropping the ball.

An article in today's
Toronto Sun says the tapes of the original Apollo 11 lunar landing have been lost and likely taped over by subsequent missions. If I taped over my wedding video, my wife would send me to the moon on a one-way trip. But tape over the most historic landing since the early-developing Etta Grandling of my public school dove out of her bathing suit in swim class? That's nuts. (Etta Grandling? You'd think I'd come up with a better name than that for a gag.)

"Take a picture Neil, it'll last longer. Or will it?"

No word yet on whether the season finale of Big Bang Theory was funny enough to warrant using this particular tape.

The really funny part is that Hollywood is coming to the rescue to "restore" images from four copies sitting around across the globe to a pristine image better than anything that existed. The same technicians restored Casablanca and they did a fantastic job (although I still don't buy that Greedo tried to shoot Rick and Ilsa first).

Was it live or was it Memorex?

So, after much has been made by conspiracy theorists about whether or not the Apollo 11 mission was faked, we can now never be sure how much we're seeing is real or movie magic.

The mind boggles.


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