SpaceX has released a new animation of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which is targeted for first flight later this year. Falcon Heavy will place payloads of up to 117,000 pounds into Low Earth Orbit, more than any American rocket since the Saturn V. More significantly, it will incorporate reusable boosters to reduce launch costs.
Let’s forget that throw-away line about going into space just “because it is hard.”
Kennedy himself did not believe that. He had other reasons (political reasons) for wanting to do Project Apollo.
Many things are hard. Building a life-size replica of the Eiffel Tower out of spaghetti would be hard, but you won’t find millions of people who want to do that. There are millions of people who want to go into space, however. Why?
There is no single answer to that question. There are as many reasons for going into space as there are people who want to go. We don’t need politicians to tell us why we want to go into space, any more than we need politicians to tell us why we want to go to Disneyland, Las Vegas, or Yellowstone National Park.
This NASA film from 1962 shows an early version of the Apollo lunar mission concept. Some interesting minor differences from the final design include the mechanical arms used to reorient the lunar module and the ladder astronauts would use to climb down to the lunar surface.
One notable difference: the Apollo command module was intended to touchdown on land rather than at sea. Shock absorbers would have added considerable weight, however. The final design of the capsule could not safely touchdown on land; the impact would have severely injured the crew members. Broken backs were a likely outcome. As a result, one of the launch constraints on Apollo missions was wind direction. The wind had to be in a direction that would carry the command module out to sea, rather than back toward land, in the event of a launch abort.