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When you were a kid did you dream of being an astronaut? Did you what to go to the moon? Like many people this dream was a goal in this research paper I will prove that this dream became a reality to be the best at ones goals and see them through. President Kennedy showed us all he was a hero by getting America to support the American space program, and get three heroes on the moon.
On October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite and caught America and the whole world off guard. This was the Soviet’s first push in the historical “Space Race.” There was great fear surrounding this launch; a certain question was on everyone’s minds, could the Soviets send Nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles from Europe to the U.S.? Even before the U.S. could respond the Soviets launched Sputnik II carrying an increased payload and the first dog in space named Laika, it seemed the U.S. space program would never catch up. In order for the U.S. to win the Space Race they would have to succeed in putting a man in earth orbit, but it was on April 12, 1961 just four years after sputnik was launched, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went into earth orbit edging out the United States’ chance to put the first man in space. It was on April 14, 1961 two days after the Soviets put the first man in space, when President John F. Kennedy decided to put faith in the still young NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) program. NASA, established on October 1, 1958, had the historical job of putting an American on the moon. It was on May 25, 1961 when Kennedy finally made public his commitment “to land an American safely on the moon by the end of the decade,” (Shepard 28).
The pressure was on the NASA, but all eyes were on James E. Webb, NASA Administrator, who was not even certain the U.S. could beat the Soviets to the moon. Chief Scientist Hugh Dryden calculated cost to the Federal budget to put a man on the moon would be a staggering $40 billion (the entire federal budget then was $ 98 billion.) Kennedy’s child-like interest in the space project led the U.S. on a great adventure through space.
Kennedy appointed Lyndon Johnson to balance the budget, so his promise to America was kept. Kennedy also took part in seeing two early space launches that put Alan Shepard and John Glenn in earth orbit. Excitedly Kennedy told people, “This is the new ocean, the U.S. must sail on it and be in a position second to none.”(Shepard 31). Kennedy’s last involvement with the Apollo project was his trip to Cape Canaveral to view what he fought so hard for the first stage of the giant Saturn V. rocket. It was only a few short months later when America would mourn the death of one of the greatest presidents; it was on November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was shot down in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. The one man whose real interest in seeing a man land on the moon had passed away, but his dream was very much alive. Now it was up to Lyndon B. Johnson, the man later responsible for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The years between Kennedy’s death and the launch of Apollo 11 NASA Administrator James E. Webb guided the very popular Apollo project, but his name was tarnished by the Apollo 10 tragedy on January 27, 1967. The three Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffe were strapped inside the Saturn V. rocket, and the capsule was sealed when a flash came from the cabin and smoke followed. Capcom director Deke Slayton immediately ordered a medical team, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
James E. Webb took all responsibility for the tragic accident, but it was the hatch that had a design flaw that made it impossible for escape, ” We’ve always known something like this was going to happen sooner or later, Who would have thought the first tragedy would be on the ground?” (Smith 7). Later Webb would decide to retire in October 1969.
Apollo 8 was a success it was the first lunar ship to leave earth orbit and head out into space. It was also the first to see the earth in its entirety suspended in space. Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 were both also the first to orbit the moon. These were the first steps to the vast Universe; this was also a major step in getting the U.S. on the moon. The Apollo 11 launch was carefully planned so that the lunar module would land on the moon with the sun low enough to throw good shadows on the lunar surface for the best visibility. The night before the launch every one nervously prepared for the launch that would send the three dedicated Astronauts to the moon. The Saturn V. rocket that carried commander Neil Armstrong, command module pilot Mike Collins, and lunar pilot Buzz Aldrin, weighed a staggering 51,655 lb. Dr. Kurt Debus, director of the Kennedy Space Center, finally announced, “When the weight of the paper work equals the weight of the Saturn V. it’s time to launch.” (Smith 2). The morning of the launch started with Deke Slayton knocking on the astronaut’s doors at 4:15 a.m., Florida time. They sat down to a breakfast of steak and eggs with orange juice and toast. It was a tradition for the prelaunch breakfast to be steak. After breakfast, Joe Schmitt and his team of four technicians prepared their suits. Following a carefully planned timetable, they were wired up with their medical sensors and communication equipment. Finally a light bubble helmet they liked to call the “snoopy helmet” was put on their heads, and they were sealed off from the world.
Their suits were then pumped up to 19 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen, checked for leaks, and for the next three hours, they had to get all the nitrogen out of their blood stream so they wouldn’t get the bends in space. There last four hours on earth were spent with NASA personnel, until it was time to ride the transfer van to the pad in the early morning light.
The three were strapped snuggly in the Columbia Command Module with Commander Neil Armstrong settled in the left couch. In just a short while Lunar Pilot Buzz Aldrin eased in the center couch, and last but not least Mike Collins was strapped in the right couch, and the hatch was sealed. All three astronauts were ready to go, but still had an hour and a half until count down.
“The official viewing site was home to over 75,000 visitors from all over the world to watch the launch. The launch was the most dangerous part of the whole mission. It was possible that if any part of the huge Saturn V. rocket touched the launch tower during the first twelve seconds the rocket could be knocked off balance causing the fuel in the rocket to explode. With 5,000 specialists, and engineers looking over every detail even the pulse rates of the three astronauts, they were on their way to the one goal the late President Kennedy sought after; they were going to the moon. Paul Donnelly the launch manager, gave the announcement, “Good luck and God speed from the launch crew.” A second later there was a response from Armstrong, “thank you very much.” (Smith 9).
“The countdown had begun. The 75,000 people that came to see the launch were in suspense. At 9:30 am. the five F1 engine burst to life. Below the rocket 28,000 gallons of cold water per minute rushed to cool the launch pad. The cool water generated large amounts of steam in the air, ice formed on the outside of the rocket from the super-cold fuel that was stored within. A great thundering rumble started shaking the very earth the rocket was about to escape. Flames rushed out filling the air with an intense brightness that was watch. The ice that built up on the outside of the rocket started flaking off only to melt in the intense flame that was below. Four giant clamps gripped the mighty rocket as the engines built up to their full trust of 7.5 million pounds. Maximum trust built up to the equivalent of 180 million horsepower, and the power of 32 jumbo jets. At 9:32 lift off was achieved. The rocket cleared the tower safely and was on its way to the moon. Each of the three Astronauts felt a sinking feeling as the rocket traveled faster. Their bodies were jerked around for the first forty seconds. After that they were traveling faster than the speed of sound. The huge Saturn V. motors gobbled up 2,096 tons of fuel at the rate of 13.1 tons per second. It took the huge rocket from rest to 6,300 mph in an incredible two and a half minutes. The Saturn V. lost more than three-quarters of its weight in the first 160 seconds of flight. The Saturn V. consumed its fuel at an incredible rate. It rapidly became lighter, and as it became lighter it became faster. As it went higher and faster it met less air resistance, and went still faster until it was traveling nine times faster than the speed of sound in an amazing 160 seconds. As they streaked through the thinning atmosphere, the blue sky darkened to the black of space. It only took the mighty rocket 12 minutes to go from sitting motionless on the launch pad to hurtling in earth orbit.” (Smith 12).
The three astronauts were finally “go” for the moon. The first chore was to turn the command module around and dock with the lunar module, “as Collins brought the two vehicles together, he noticed the lunar module’s flimsy aluminum skin was so thin it rippled to the bursts of gas from the command module’s control jets like a breeze across long grass.”(Smith 11). After a while the three astronaut were ready to get out of their pressure suits. On the forth day in space Apollo 11 arrived on the moon. ” Armstrong reported, ” The view of the moon that we’ve be having recently is really spectacular.” (Smith 15). The three astronauts went to sleep knowing that their goal was just below them. With little sleep the astronauts had breakfast and prepared for lunar entry. Every thing had to be perfect all buttons and dials were checked to see if they were in their proper place. Buzz and Neil climbed in the delicate lunar module and strapped in for their decent to the lunar surface. Collins knew there was a fifty- percent chance he could be alone if the lunar module failed. It took twelve minutes to reach the lunar surface. Touchdown was reported to the astronauts cause they could not see the surface of the moon. “We copy you down, Eagle.” (Smith 18). “Houston, tranquillity base here. The Eagle has landed.” (Smith 18).
Our goal was finished we safely landed a man on the moon. We have proven that our heroes were successful in leading us on a great journey through the first stage of space exploration, but were will we land next will a new president lead us on a journey to mars? Will there be new heroes to look up to? Only time will tell.
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