Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Saturn V

Neil and Buzz had their trip to the moon in 1969.

That was nearly forty years ago.

Why aren’t I holidaying on the shores of the fucking Sea of Tranquillity already?

I utterly fucking despair.


  1. El Draque says:

    Way back in the early 60s, before the Apollo project was finalised, it was thought that they would have to send a moonlander with enough fuel to take off again, and enough to make it back to earth.
    The take-off weight was to be so huge, they worked out a plan to strap five Saturn 5s together (does that make it a Saturn 25?) in order to lift off that colossal spaceship.
    In the end, they never needed to, because they simply dumped all the fuel tanks as they went along.
    But the very idea of five Saturn 5s going off at once – they’d have had to clear large parts of Florida for take off.

    And yes, I too thought we’d be visiting a moonbase a la 2001: Space Odyssey.
    Or at least taking a hypersonic son-of-Concorde to Australia, just to watch cricket.

  2. Dr Ralph says:

    At NASA’s Johnson Space Center (south of Houston) they had, for years, a place called Rocket Park. I went there with the family about 10 years ago. The centerpiece was an unused Saturn V rocket lying on its side –built but never used– and several of the actual rocket engines it used. The thing was incredible. The other rockets (including the old Redstone used to launch the Mercury capsules) looked like a bunch of bottle rockets in comparison.

    I believe the Saturn V is still there, but is now covered by some sort of enclosure to protect it from further deterioration by the elements. Which is a shame, because the sight of that monster in it’s full glory would take your breath away.

  3. Nick M says:


    I’ve seen the rocket park at Canaveral.

  4. So do I. I was hoping for that condo on the Moon.

    There is a lot to say about why the momentum was lost, but as you know Nick, you’d get a long, tedious sermon from me about how NASA etc have crowded out private sector spacefaring for too long, although that is starting to change for the better.

    The real reason why we need a Moon base is to put up a launch facility up there for longer, interplanetary flights to places like Mars. The Moon, with its low gravity, is much easier to launch from.

  5. NickM says:

    It’s eggs and baskets. If a private space concern loses it’s way then it’s not the end of the quest for there will be others. When state monopolies do it’s very serious. And it’s not easy to put right. Nasa’s shuttle replacement – the Constellation project – is basically “back to the future”. Which is not good in itself but it also means that as most of the Apollo engineers are either very retired or dead it’s re-inventing the wheel.

    The same thing happened in C15th China. They built a huge fleet at huge expense. Truly the wonder of the age and set out exploring. It was canceled by the next Emperor and left to rot. Meanwhile Europeans with much less cash and sophistication but without the dead hand of centralisation discovered the World.

    The moon is also a brilliant place to do astronomy from. And I mean a complete quantum leap from Hubble. And apart from anything else that would be such a spur to “going there”.

  6. Dr Ralph says:

    A case could be made that the cost of the Vietnam war, the growing specter of Watergate, and a sense of disillusionment with the government in general and more specifically the Nixon administration led to the death of the Apollo Moon program. Skylab briefly filled the gap until the Space Shuttle program.

    NickM’s point about C15th China is pretty much spot on.

  7. Pogo says:

    I love the candid, and not terribly “corporate”, comment from Neil Armstrong when someone asked him what he thought about just before launch… “I had the rather irreverent thought that I was lying on my back, 360 feet up in the air on top of a massive machine containing the explosive power of a small nuclear device and over a million components – every one of which was manufactured to the lowest tendered price.” :-)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: