Having lived through the time of the Apollo Lunar Landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, having watched (almost) all of them live on TV and having just given a lecture myself on the subject to Tylers Green Middle School, I thought I knew quite a lot about these mission. Er … no! My knowledge paled into insignificance in comparison to Andy Green’s encyclopaedic grasp of the subject!
His well illustrated and excellently presented lecture covered the history of rocketry from Werner von Braun’s time in the Second World War, through the Mercury and Gemini programmes and culminating with the might Saturn V multistage rocket of the Apollo missions. Each major Apollo mission was covered: Apollo 1 and its fire, Apollo 7 the first proper test flight around the Earth, Apollo 8 to the Moon and back, Apollo 9 where the Command and Lunar Modules were tested together, Apollo 10 (the one that’s in the Science Museum!) and then Apollo 11 the first actual lunar landing, fifty years ago. And he didn’t stop there – on to Apollo 12 launched in a thunderstorm, Apollo 13 the doomed mission accurately portrayed in the movie, Apollo 15 when the first buggy was used and finally Apollo 17 which took place during the Vietnam War, involved a night time launch and led to the discovery of orange rocks on the Moon.
Andy Green has met about half of the astronauts who walked on the Moon and had a couple of Apollo artefacts to show, for example a test block from a Heat Shield. He also dismissed the notion that the missions were a hoax and just carried out in a studio – thousands of companies and over 40,000 individuals were involved. Astronauts and support staff were over 100 and 383 kg of Moon rocks (different from those found on Earth) were brought back. Even the first Russian space walker, Alexei Leonov, believed they were true – if you were going to plot a hoax, he observed, you’d only do it once – not six times!
Article: Sandy Giles
Pictures: Paul Phillips