Friday, July 19, 2013

Another gloomy Moon Day

Cross-posted from The Blog of Days.

It was on July 20, 44 years ago, that a human being first left footprints on a heavenly body other than Earth. Thus, Saturday, July 20 is Moon Day.

It's a bittersweet occasion. Neil Armstrong has passed away since we observed Moon Day 2012 (he died last August 25) and Buzz Aldrin is 83. It is now 41 years and counting since anyone has been to the Moon. Here's the complete list (complete with links to Wikipedia entries on each astronaut and mission):

Name Mission EVA dates
1 Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 July 20, 1969
2 Buzz Aldrin
3 Pete Conrad Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969
4 Alan Bean
5 Alan Shepard Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971
6 Edgar Mitchell
7 David Scott Apollo 15 July 31–August 2, 1971
8 James Irwin
9 John W. Young Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972
10 Charles Duke
11 Eugene Cernan Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972
12 Harrison Schmitt

In all the years since, we've flown no higher than the International Space Station. Yes, it is a remarkable achievement to build even a small outpost that's technically in Outer Space -- but the ISS is in Low Earth Orbit -- it's just camping in Earth's backyard compared to the wonders that lie before us.

There are two Americans in the six-person crew currently on board the International Space Station (this crew is referred to as Expedition 36). One of these is Karen L. Nyberg, a PhD in mechanical engineering, currently serving as a flight engineer aboard the station. Dr. Nyberg is pictured at right. The other is CDR Christopher J. Cassidy, USN. An Italian and three Russians, including Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov, round out the current crew.

Our astronauts get to and from the space station these days by hitching a ride with the Russians.

Saturday. Moon Day.

What went wrong?

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