The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apollo 8 and the Peaceful “Arts” of Science

Apollo 8 and the Peaceful “Arts” of Science
Review of: Part II of the Chicago, Museum of Science & Industry: The Henry Crown Space Center
By Tim Krenz

I did not grasp the profound humility met when viewing the original Apollo 8 Command Service Module while visiting Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry in January 2012. After a long ambition to visit the museum, with grateful school-child anxiety to see the U-505 exhibit at last realized, the contrasted thoughts and wonders of that World War II German submarine compared to the spacecraft, Apollo 8, left my vision of self in awesome smallness.

The two machines of an age, one massed produced and the other highly specialized, forced some diverse feelings. More so, however, they provide limitless amounts of optimism for a future of how things in themselves give opportunities for a world of science married to peaceful living—by way of achieving broader and better goals.

To recap Part I of this double review, the World War II submarine, the U-505, had one mission for the high-technology and state of the mass art of death represented by a Type IX German submarine (i.e., a U-boat long-range cruiser). It was solely developed, built, and manufactured to sink enemy ships, and to kill enemy personnel or their will to resist, through, if nothing else, starvation of civilians in the United Kingdom. Used right, a U-boat could only function well if it hid at night, ran away fast, or remained quiet and “missing” beneath the surface of the sea. At once, the U-boats, like all warships, performed roles of both predator and prey . Almost as long as human kind first dreamed of flying, humanity also tinkered with a way to move in a contained atmosphere under the surface of the water, and emerge alive.

As with much of the history of science and engineering, most of the ambition for submersibles, and much of sweat and wealth to build better ones, submarines found the greatest advances utilized for warfare. Arrogantly, engineers and civilization thought the R.M.S. Titanic could not sink. Two years after it did, the submarine grew into its age as a weapon of immense utility, sinking others and sinking themselves. In contrast, the Wright brothers flew their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, less than a decade the Titanic tragedy. We still know that what floats or goes up still can or must come down, not necessarily with success.

What could float or fly in the century of war which followed the submarine’s and the airplane’s birthing age can fall upon and smash cities to radioactive rubble—a combination of deadly submarines, perfected, and flying bombs, protected in the former. Must we accept humanity’s expectation to do more wrong than is right with the knowledge gained from the hard work of difficult science. We look to the past to foresee how humanity misused practical tools built at much expense, in the name of destruction, profit, politics. Can the past of potential lead us to a future of practical peace?

In the Cold War, America entered the Space Age, or Space Race, in a peaceful manner but with a political, almost propagandist, bent. “Beat the Soviets to land men on, and return them safely from, the Moon.” In the Henry Crown Space Center at Chicago’s museum, the thoughts of science and engineering turn to a different view, as the Apollo 8 Command Service Module provided me a decided change in what humanity achieved, and what it can do again, and how the Space Age of Post-History could very well transform for the better all concepts of human civilization.

On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launched from the Kennedy Space Center. It traveled 3 days over 245,000 miles to the Moon, orbited the Moon ten times over 20 hours. For the first time, a manned exploration left Earth’s orbit, and humans orbited another body in the wider frontier of space. It did not land on the man, but Mission Commander Frank Boorman, Command Module Pilot, Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, became the first humans to see distinctly through a little, thick window, how small planet Earth looks in the wider expanse of clear-view space. They tested a feat (without carrying the Lunar Module on the mission, by the way) in an 11 year process since the Soviet Sputnik launch, to really, (though it sounds corny—“really”), go where we had not gone. And as the three astronaut deaths of the earlier Apollo 1 test mission catastrophe showed, while still on the ground, space exploration poses deadly dangers. Furthermore, knowing how close Jim Lovell’s crew in the Apollo 13 mission almost came to tragedy, going to the Moon takes some serious risks along with the greatest reward. How small we live upon our little rock in space, and how much effort our country devoted for Neil Armstrong to take that little great leaping yomp from the lunar module platform, contributes much to the imagination of how much more we can do.

Apollo 8, without arms or hostile-intent, sets itself apart from ordinary planes, like those on exhibit in the museum, and far apart from living self-contained under our oceans, in Norse-like war-coffin-long boats of steel, sea-bound in conflict, i.e. the U-505. The same hard cold logic of science, thought, study, and inspired invention gave the Wright’s Brothers Flier flight, and made living and working under oceans today possible. Hard science took Boorman, Lovell, and Anders around the Moon, and put Armstrong and Aldrin on its surface. We just decided to go, figured out how to do it, made the investment, and humanity did it! For all history’s failures, including the lack of foresight or will-power for manned-mission to go back or beyond the Moon, we fight the most horrifying choices. The flaws rip apart the world here, and suffer the people. If we desire to do something grand to unify us, not hurting one another, the secret might come from the effort, and the satisfaction, of that view of the Earth from the Apollo 8. Ten times, Apollo 8 came out of the Moon’s shadow on an orbit, when the astronauts could finally re-establish routine communications with Earth after silent, static minutes of radio blackout. How lonely did they feel out there without hearing us. Freaky, perhaps. Silently, the white conical CSM of Apollo 8 sits beyond the touch of the museum visitor, yellowing from time and its travel, and scarred on its outside from the trip of the caveman’s unbelievable. The module sides show burns of miracle air gained upon re-entry, when the three man crew came home to tell us, and all the future: we want to go back there, and keep on going until. . . . . . . . . . . . . .