HIST THESISS

HIST THESISS - Caitlin Shoe 9/24/07 Hist213 Thesis Paper On...

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Caitlin Shoe 9/24/07 Hist213 Thesis Paper On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon (Chaikin vii). Although it was televised worldwide and undeniably made history, this first lunar landing failed to provide much benefit, and was ultimately unnecessary. The risks of the Apollo 11 mission were incredibly extensive, ranging from the obvious danger threatening the lives of the crewmembers, to potentially fatal mishaps that could, and did, take place during the journey. The astronauts were extremely fortunate to survive the operation; the severity of the Apollo trips became evident shortly after Apollo 11, when Apollo 13 almost resulted in disaster, due to an explosion in the spacecraft that disabled the main power supply (Heppenheimer 251). In addition to the various risks involved in space travel, particularly Apollo 11, the costs of this mission were immeasurable. Aside from tremendous financial strain, the process of a lunar landing also required significant time and effort. The minor benefits that resulted from this mission do not come close to compensating for the risks and costs it involved. The decisions of NASA and government officials at this time continue to disappoint and cause controversy among many Americans, for valid reasons. Space exploration is obviously risky, especially when considering the lives of those involved. There are numerous opportunities during a flight to the moon for the slightest glitch to turn into disaster. One such chance, known as “dead man’s curve,” occurs in the last 200 feet of the descent to the moon’s surface, when the lunar module is too low to allow the mission to abort if the descent engine failed (Chaikin 167). Also,
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there was no second chance when attempting a lunar landing. There was not any possibility of circling and trying again if the first endeavor was unsuccessful (Chaikin 168). When executing the procedure, Armstrong, Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins needed to be meticulous and precise in every task, because the slightest mistake could cost them their lives. Needless to say, the pressure felt by each crewmember had to be strenuous. As pilot, Collins was individually responsible for bringing his crewmates back to Earth, and any slight error on his part could result in being burned in the earth’s atmosphere, stuck in lunar orbit, or crashing into the ocean (Chaikin 174). In addition to acknowledging the importance of his precision, Collins also was expected to know eighteen different variations of emergency rendezvous (Chaikin 175). This pressure caused much anxiety for Collins, as well as for the other astronauts,
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2008 for the course HIST 213 taught by Professor Caddell during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

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HIST THESISS - Caitlin Shoe 9/24/07 Hist213 Thesis Paper On...

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