Apollo 4's Trajectory
December 3, 2012
In November of 67, I was 8 years old and thoughts and concepts beyond my immediate surroundings were beginning to emerge. Apollo 4 was the first test flight of the Saturn 5 stage and the block I command service module. Of course, the disaster of Apollo 1 's fire on the launch pad was still fresh in the nation's thoughts. So, this first launch of Saturn 5 and the certification of Command Service Module was getting a lot of press coverage. As a boy of 8, I didn't have any interest in reading the newspapers. However, on the front page was the artists conception on how Apollo 4's orbital trajectory would look in its 9 hr flight. I was absolutely captivated with that orbital trajectory depiction. I truly wanted to be on that ultimate adventure and travel to the moon, Mars or even farther. After looking at the Apollo 4 article for days, I decided to cut it out and develop a scrap book. I collected newspaper articles on anything that had to do with NASA and space. Not to long after developing the scrap book, I asked my mom on how could I contact NASA to get more information. I found out that if you asked for information, NASA would send out photographs of recent missions of astronauts and of robotic missions. From NASA responses to my young questions, I discovered about JPL, Ames, Marshal Space center and etc. My letters then began to expand to include these organizations as well. If one asked for information more than once in a years time, one would get black listed. After being blacklisted a couple of times, I would send only letters for information once every 1 1/2 years. I still have a fine collection of vintage photographs from these decades old inquiries.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.