Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Apollo 17 rollout

This is not the anniversary of the Apollo 17 rollout from the VAB to the launch pad - that was on August 28. However, we're approaching the anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, so that's why I pulled out this badge. Save for the Skylab Orbital Workshop, this was the last rollout of a Saturn V, and it was the beginning of the end of the lunar exploration program in the 20th century.

Since so much of my life and dreams revolved around the space program, I was deeply depressed (and I don't use the term lightly) to think that the Government could just let it end. What seems an incredible waste now is that we actually had built all the hardware we needed for more lunar exploration missions...the Government was just unwilling to commit the funds for the support costs for Apollos 18 and 19. The incremental cost of flying those missions would have been much less than what we spend on a Space Shuttle launch, in 'real dollar' terms.

It wasn't just the money. NASA was becoming gun-shy after the near miss of Apollo 13. Many in NASA were happy just to have the program end without loss of life.

But this one last time, we were rolling out a manned moon rocket to the launch pad. It would have been glorious to be there!

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