Our World in Space | Robert McCall
Foreword (below), by Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.:
Traditionally, man is impatient of the immediate future. He tends to want, to hope, above all, to imagine, more than is humanly or technologically possible in his flicker of time. But the events of the past decade have confirmed the soundness of that yearning instinct. They have lifted the hearts of the dreamers, and of all but the most Earth-bound pessimists.
Musing over the well-founded prognostications in the remarkable paintings and text of this volume, I found myself considering - as I have so often in the past four years - the meaning of the unique events I took part in and my own role in them. I was asked to participate in this publication, I supposed, because I was the winner of an extraordinary lottery: I was selected to take part in the first Moon landing, an experience that became symbolic for all Earth men.
The spectacular voyage of Apollo 11 meant the conquering of a new frontier. Two men, carrying with them the collective dreams of mankind throughout the ages, set foot on the Moon. It was a triumph of imagination and of collective technology. In a troubled, disheartened time, the voyage was a glorious witness to man’s ability to create, to realize his dreams.
Twelve men have now walked on the Moon. The twelve of us have, I think, at least one common viewpoint: We share a special concept of the Earth as a planet. We have looked on it from the surface of the Moon and seen it whole in space - a beautiful, bright, not very large…and somehow vulnerable. To me, it seemed a great place to come from, and an even greater place to return to. Millions now have had a reflection of this view of Earth through the dramatic photographs take in space; I think they too begin to share this sense of planet Earth as a place to cherish, and even are beginning to act upon it.
The collective technology behind the triumph of Apollo 11 can be translated in terms of the absorption of the skills of thousands of highly trained and talented people over a period of ten years, and the expenditure of some twenty-four billion dollars. All this, to achieve a dream. The space program has long had its critics, and since 1969 (perhaps, ironically, because of the apparently routine success of its missions) it has lost some of its hold on the public imagination. The verification of man’s inventiveness demonstrated in the first Skylab mission and the economy-oriented evolution of the space shuttle may convince some critics of NASA and the space industry, but others are still unsatisfied. Even as we casually or unknowingly profit from some of the fringe benefits already accrued from the program - such as extreme electronic miniaturization, satellite communications, new surgical techniques, improved weather forecasting - there are those who consider the entire program a wasteful, even useless, expenditure of talent and money. I can never agree. The voyage to the Moon will have been useless only if we do not use the experience. And I believe we have already begun to do so both in technical and in spiritual terms.
If you think of the evolution of the space program, you may be as startled as I occasionally am by the rush of technology and history. After Yuri Gagarin’s one-orbit flight outside the Earth’s atmosphere in 1961, the space program grew by such quantum leaps that the mind blurs: the first American program, Mercury, quickly evolved into Gemini, twelve flights in preparation for an eventual lunar landing. Then came Apollo, and on July 20, 1969, only eight ears after the first manned space flight, men walked on the Moon. Our training and knowledge were so extensive that there were virtually no unknowns or unanticipated events during the entire voyage of Apollo 11. We went all the way from the Earth to the Moon and back to Earth within half a second of the time allotted by our flight plan. Even the Moon was as we expected to find it.
Man has increased his knowledge of the unknown so rapidly and effectively in recent years that he can now envision realistically what it is like where he has yet to go. The images in this volume are not fanciful dreams, but have a basis in reality; they are expressions of some of the imaginative strivings toward the future. The ingenuity and imagination of the individual - or collective - mind of man is virtually limitless. Yet in long-range terms the technological resources available to him may make it possible to achieve, even surpass, his wildest flights of fancy. And as man develops the tools and capabilities to extend his reach farther and farther, there is no doubt he will feel compelled to go as far as he is capable of going.