|Saturn V rocket|
|Third stage of the rocket|
With this book fresh on my mind, I hopped on a commuter bus downtown and rode all the way to the end of line: Johnson Space Center. Both a fully-functioning “home base” for the U.S. government’s NASA agency and an interactive space museum, the JSC also houses a never-launched Saturn V rocket inside a gargantuan shed. Initially left to rot in the humid, polluted Houston air, this rocket has since been restored and moved indoors for preservation.
|First stage of the rocket|
While President Kennedy’s call to reach the Moon had noble overtones of exploration and scientific inquiry, it’s impossible to separate the Apollo missions to the Moon he inspired from the larger nuclear arms race of the Cold War. In this atmosphere of mutual distrust (and mutually-assured destruction, ahem), both the U.S. and the Soviet Union competed to build bigger bombs, bombs that could strike deep within each others’ territory. Although the Russians were the first to orbit the globe with their Sputnik satellite, it was the U.S. that managed to first break free of the planet’s gravity itself and land on the Moon. In short: if America could send a rocket to the Moon, reaching Moscow would be a piece of cake; mentally replace the “payload” of astronauts with atomic bombs and you begin to realize the darker significance of the lunar landings.
|The whole shebang|
Have you visited the Saturn V rocket in Houston, Texas? Or even a Space Shuttle? Let me know any nerdy insights you might have in the comments below!
For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr.