Although the Moon Landings might feel like comparatively recent history – particularly in the minds of those who, like me, are old enough to remember them – the concept of space travel is not by any means a modern phenomenon. As long ago as the middle of the 19th century, the idea had been anticipated by the French author Jules Verne, in his novel De la Terre à la Lune (1865) and its sequel Autour de la Lune (1869). It was further developed by the English writer H G Wells in his story The First Men in the Moon (1900-1901), and by the pioneering French film director and magician Georges Méliès in his short film Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902), which was inspired partly by Verne's stories. The film, featuring Méliès himself in the main role of Professor Barbenfouillis, can be seen here.
Schirra & Eisele on board Apollo 7 (photo: NASA)
(Photo: Buzz Aldrin on Twitter)
- It used to be thought that the full moon caused madness. The words “lunacy” and “lunatic” are both derived from luna, the Latin word for moon.
- Sputnik 1 was the size of a beachball.
- The Apollo astronauts’ spacesuits were designed by Playtex, a company better known for manufacturing ladies’ underwear.
- The astronauts on Apollo 11 ate cereal (mixed with fruit and packed into cubes), but couldn’t have it with milk in case it floated out of the bowl.
- The average smartphone today contains a more powerful computer than the spaceships which sent the astronauts to the moon.
- Surprisingly, even today, some people apparently still believe that the moon landings were an elaborate hoax! I wonder what they think could have happened...