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Fifty years later, look at "Apollo 11" and marvel at

During the next month, dear reader, please, please, Please find and watch the documentary film "Apollo 11"

It's just a good movie, but not great, but it does provide an immediacy and a sense of fear that's right for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the first human moon landing next month. That on July 20, 1969, the landing and safe return remain, in the eyes of many wise minds, the greatest achievement in the history of mankind. The film, despite some narrative flaws, elucidates this evaluation.

The main flaw of the film is closely related to its strength: it mostly leaves the raw images speak for itself, with very little narration. What we've won is a real sense of being 'present', watching live from the public stands near Cape Canaveral, from the rows of technicians at the Mission Control Center and even from the inside. same of the probe. What is lost is the ability to explain largely what is happening, the science, why and how, the particular nature of the risks and benefits.

Yet the wonder of all this is apparent to both minds and hearts. Next month, we will certainly be more seduced by the calls of our heart: the first step of Neil Armstrong, the American flag planted there, the multiple human footprints left on the dusty surface as Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin back in the module lunar. Let's focus for the moment on the aspects that should continue to surprise the mind.

How did NASA do everything? The capacity of all of its huge computer bank was only a fraction of what the average smartphone can do now. With such rudimentary equipment, coupled with ancient tools such as manual calculation rules, the thousands of scientists and mathematicians at NASA have had to find a way to provide enough power to escape the earth's atmosphere and keep three men alive for 240,000 miles of airless travel in each direction. , orbiting the moon, has a separate module from the main spacecraft to descend to the moon's surface, land safely, reinstall it enough so that it returns to the main gear, moor with the craft as it climbs at a speed equivalent to four, achieve enough thrust to get out of the lunar orbit, return to Earth, enter the Earth's atmosphere again, withstand temperatures less than half hot as the sun itself, and splash yourself safely near a predetermined point of the Pacific Ocean.

Yet, in spite of all the technological magic required to do all this, certain aspects of the mission remained as basic as what the teenagers of the 1950s did as last-minute controls before the drag racing in rural areas. As the astronauts climbed aboard the space capsule, individual mechanics poured water on valves to determine where fuel escaped (liquid hydrogen), and then hand-tightened the bolts to stop them. leaks.

Looking at the old footage, a spectator almost expects a man dressed in the uniform of a garage mechanic to start controlling the operation and says he has glued two parts together with five compresses. chewing gum.

The mind marvels at the strange mix of ultra-advanced mathematics and basic mechanics, used in extreme danger circumstances, accomplished with a spirit of almost reckless determination.

A giant step for humanity? This is a huge euphemism. The landing on the moon and the safe return of Apollo 11 were the largest and most extraordinary vaults in eternity ever made by humans. Because of what NASA accomplished in July 1969, the dream of humanity will never again be entirely terrestrial.

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