“One small step for man…”

This year is the 40th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon. Apollo 17 was the sixth and final moon landing by the United States and launched from the Kennedy Space Centre December 7 1972. Apollo 17 had the first scientist/astronaut to land on the moon – Harrison Schmitt.

Syndetics book coverApollo : the epic journey to the moon / by David West Reynolds.
“Space expert Reynolds reconstructs all the key events and personalities connected to the Apollo space missions, from the experiences of the astronauts to the scientists and mission control operators who helped convert this extraordinary dream into reality. His text is accompanied by 400-plus color photographs, artwork showing the lunar explorations, and cutaway illustrations.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last man on the moon : astronaut Eugene Cernan and America’s race in space / Eugene Cernan and Don Davis.
“Eugene Cernan is a unique American who came of age as an astronaut during the most exciting and dangerous decade of spaceflight. His career spanned the entire Gemini and Apollo programs, from being the first person to spacewalk all the way around our world to the moment when he left man’s last footprint on the Moon as commander of Apollo 17. Between those two historic events lay more adventures than an ordinary person could imagine as Cernan repeatedly put his life, his family and everything he held dear on the altar of an obsessive desire. Written with New York Times bestselling author Don Davis, this is the astronaut story never before told – about the fear, love and sacrifice demanded of the few men who dared to reach beyond the heavens for the biggest prize of all – the Moon.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpacesuit : fashioning Apollo / Nicholas de Monchaux.
“When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969, they wore spacesuits made by Playtex: twenty-one layers of fabric, each with a distinct yet interrelated function, custom-sewn for them by seamstresses whose usual work was fashioning bras and girdles. This book is the story of those spacesuits. It is a story of the Playtex Corporation’s triumph over the military-industrial complex—a victory of elegant softness over engineered hardness, of adaptation over cybernetics. Playtex’s spacesuit went up against hard armor-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA’s engineers. It was only when those suits failed—when traditional engineering firms could not integrate the body into mission requirements—that Playtex, with its intimate expertise, got the job.” (Global Books in Print)

DVDs:
James May on the moon [videorecording].
“In this BBC documentary, James May commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings. He meets three of the men who walked on the moon, before experiencing the thrill of weightlessness, and the bone-crushing G forces of a Saturn V rocket launch. Finally, he puts on a space suit and flies to the edge of space in a U2 spy plane, where he looks down at the curvature of the earth and upwards into the black infinity of space.” (Syndetics summary)

From the Earth to the Moon [videorecording] / HBO presents a Clavius Base/Imagine Entertainment production.
“Through dramatization, this series relates the story of the conquest of the moon by the Americans, from the Mercury and Gemini projects to the legendary Apollo missions.” (Syndetics summary)

Websites:
NASA – Apollo 17
Project Apollo drawings and technical diagrams

Curious about Curiosity?

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is scheduled to land on the red planet at 5.31pm on Monday 6 August and you’re invited to Carter Observatory to witness this scientifically significant event hosted live by Carter and their colleagues from the KiwiSpace Foundation (if Curiosity survives its descent to the Martian surface that is…).

This special event will be running from 4.30pm with insights provided by the KiwiMars crew, followed by the live link up to that last “7 minutes of terror” as the rover descends onto the planet surface. This will be a great opportunity to learn about humankind’s next steps into space exploration, with the rover’s objectives including searching for past or present life, studying the Martian climate and geology, and collecting data for a future manned mission to Mars. (Note that the last planetarium show that day will be at 3pm so if you go up after that to watch the event admission will be on an exhibition only ticket basis: $10 adults / $ 8 concessions / $4 children / free entry to Star Pass holders).