Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

A newspaper cartoon image of astronauts of Apollo 11 on the moon. The moon is held in the hand of God.
This editorial cartoon appeared in the August 7, 1969, issue of the Georgia Bulletin.

Moon landing: ‘Man’s insatiable urge to explore the unknown’

By Andrew Nelson | Published julio 18, 2019

In the late days of July 1969, nearly half a billion people around Earth were glued to black and white TVs to watch three astronauts with Apollo 11 push the boundaries of humanity.

How’d the Georgia Bulletin cover the historic moon landing 50 years ago? I peeled back the browned pages of the bound volume of 1969 to learn.

It was a muted celebration of the July 20, 1969 milestone. The lead story of the first paper after the moon landing – July 24 – was about bishops considering changing holy days of obligations.

[Related: Atlanta priest Father Bruce Wilkinson had a more celebratory reflection. You can read “To Boldly Go.”]

Here’s what I saw in my quick survey:

  • The leading editorial on July 24 “Is It Worth the Cost” followed by “Say No to Mars.”
  • An editorial cartoon on August 7 of the circling lunar spacecraft, the moon, and the Apollo 11 astronauts  in God’s hand. (That’s the photo posted above.)
  • An article with a photo in the issue of September 4 with an astronaut giving Pope Pius VI a replica of the first lunar globe. (The pope prayed for the men out in space.  The astronaut was James Lovell, the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight.)
  • A Volkswagen advertisement promoting its sunroof as a way to photograph the moon with a cheaper price tag than NASA.

The editorial weighed “with mixed emotions” the cost of the space program versus its grandeur. It compared the men 238,856 miles from Earth to Adam.

“With the U.S. control ship orbiting in one direction, a Russian probe craft in another and communications continuing with the control center in Houston, Astronauts Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong must have felt much like Adam: Alone, but not alone; insignificant but powerful.”

Full editorial, July 24, 1969:

Is It Worth the Cost?

“The dark area at the top of your screen is outer space,” the television commentator said.

And then it dawned on us – the vastness of space. It had originally appeared that the dark area was the underside of the Lunar Module, but when the commentator put the picture in perspective, Wow!

The absence of vegetation and the comparative smalless of the Moon allowed an easy glimpse of the curved horizon two miles away.

With the U.S. control ship orbiting in one direction, a Russian probe craft in another and communications continuing with the control center in Houston, Astronauts Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong must have felt much like Adam: Alone, but not alone; insignificant but powerful.

Now that we have reached the Moon, where do we go from here? Several probes of Mars are already planned. Will we commit this nation to plunge as far as we can into space?

Printed below is one view. We have mixed emotions about the points made. It’s just possible that the technology developed in space probes will be of more benefit to man than the same amount of money spent on Earth.

But is it worth the risk? With people in this nation suffering from hunger, should we go to Mars? Adam and his descendants must have asked similar questions as they pushed into the unknowns of earth.

A long, hard look at the question is certainly in order for Congress.

Man’s insatiable urge to explore the unknown probably will win, but at least we will move with a clearer idea of cost versus gain.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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