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The Essence of the Human Spirit: Apollo 8

21 Dec 2018, 12:51 UTC
The Essence of the Human Spirit: Apollo 8 NASA/IAU

Mandated with going to the moon before 1970 you have the following: a launch vehicle that has seventy anomalies on its last unmanned flight; three engines have failed; there are severe pogo problems; and the vehicle has yet to fly with a human crew. You have a spacecraft that has been re-engineered after a terrible disaster. You have a whole suite of on-board and ground software that has never been tested in a full non-simulation mission. You have a large ground tracking network not yet used to working a manned mission at the lunar distance. You have only four months to plan and train for a manned flight no one has ever done before. Four months out, the Pacific fleet was expecting a Christmas break, and no recovery ship might be available. The crew would have no Lunar Module ‘lifeboat’. No human had ever escaped the gravity of the Earth. Facing a terrible array of unknowns, your decision? ‘You’ are George Low, manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. No hesitation… an orbital flight to the moon! [1, 2, 5]

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