New Frontiers: America and the Moon Essay

Submitted By ngapple936
Words: 876
Pages: 4

New Frontiers: America and the Moon More than five hundred years ago, Spanish sailors captained by Christopher Columbus embarked on a voyage across the Atlantic to discover a whole new part of the world we now know as the Americas. Several decades ago, NASA deployed ships under the Apollo Program to a new world as well: Earth’s moon. Although hundreds of years worth of time and technological advancement divide the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the Apollo astronauts, there exists a striking correlation. Three ships under command of Christopher Columbus, named Pinta, Niña, and Santa Maria, departed the Spanish mainland on August 3rd, 1492. After final preparations on the Canary Islands, the voyage began. These vessels were charged by the king and queen of Spain to explore uncharted waters and the possibility of unclaimed land on the other side of the world. An undertaking of such magnitude had never before been completed, and proved challenging given the speed and technology of 15th century ships, partly due to miscalculations of Earth’s actual size. The Apollo Program, dedicated to President Kennedy, was given the goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth,” before the end of the 1960’s (Rosenberg). Much like Columbus and his sailors set about to a new world, the Apollo astronauts were tasked with travelling to a very unique place of their own. At the time of Kennedy’s proposal in 1961, NASA had not yet sent a man into orbit, much less the moon. Unsurprisingly, the operation required a sudden burst of technological and intellectual creativity, along with the largest commitment of resources ever made by any nation during peacetime -- an effort relative to that of Columbus centuries earlier. Even NASA recognized the similarities. Apollo 13 controllers used the code “1492” to access their private rest area (Woodfill). Christopher Columbus and his three ships departed Europe from the Canary Islands, around the latitude line marking twenty-eight degrees north, on what turned out to be a five-week-long voyage. During the entirety of the voyage, Columbus’ ships sailed in a pattern which closely resembled a figure-eight. By happenstance they discovered and were carried by the tradewinds, which would later be incorporated into all means of transportation across the Atlantic (Christopher Columbus). Coincidentally, the launch site of the Apollo missions happened to fall on the exact same degree of latitude where Columbus’ mission originated. Further, the first Apollo missions carved a figure-eight pattern in the ocean of space, a template that was used by all Apollo spacecraft. On an even more compelling note, Apollo’s flight director was named Christopher Columbus Kraft (Woodfill). Is it a result of fate or only plain accordance that each voyage had a captain with an identical moniker to the other? Taking a turn for the worse, Santa Maria ran aground and was lost on Christmas eve, 1492, off the coast of Hispaniola. This left Columbus standing in need of a way to return home with more men than capacity to carry them. He called forth ingenuity and improvised a settlement out of Santa Maria’s remains and left thirty-nine men behind to occupy it (Minster). The accident prevailed as a somewhat fortunate misfortune for Columbus and his crew, considering rescue would have been nigh impossible if the ship had instead wrecked in open sea or without the assistance of the other ships. Christopher himself attributed the successful rescue to his Christian faith, after calling upon prayer for guidance (Woodfill). In comparison to Santa Maria, Apollo 13 suffered a fatal catastrophe as…