In Science class this week, we are watching the movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, a story of true courage and great logic, which just happens to be my favorite movie of all time (eh, make that a two-way tie with Contact). I’ve been so excited for the past few days in anticipation of this viewing, not knowing how much of an impact simply the first half an hour of watching it for the first time in a while would have on me.
It all started from the Universal Studios globe introduction sequence with the Apollo 13 theme song from the movie (ha, written by James Horner who also did Avatar). I hummed along to the familiar tune, waving my hands a little bit as a conductor would do. The plot of the movie was starting to come back to me- and I got
more and more excited as it went on. This was followed by the mentioning of the Space Race between Russia and the United States, the story of the Apollo 1 tragedy, JFK’s challenge to the United States to “go to the moon in this decade and do the other things“, and of course, the lunar landing of Apollo 11.
All of this, though it may not mean much to you, is one of the rare things in this world that inspires me to do something great with my life and give me goosebumps at the same time. It took over 1 million people to get Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon (and don’t forget Michael Collins who got them back), and not one of them they could have done without. It makes me think that I could be one of the many people who help with missions in NASA’s future.
When the story itself officially began, I found myself laughing at all of the astronaut humor that the majority of people in my class didn’t understand. Of course, the docking innuendo was a no-brainer; I’m in a class where there are eighth grade boys. But most of the time, to my embarrassment and some pride, I was the only one having to stifle an erupting chuckle at the rocket humor.
Later in the movie, there are a few scenes that really tug at the side of me that gets excited about everything NASA. One being where Jim Lovell is explaining to his son about the mighty Saturn V rocket and the LEM(short for Lunar Excursion Module) and how it works with the moon’s gravity to do many of its tasks. I love this scene because of the innocence that is presented in such a complicated subject, and that wonder can be experienced by any person,young or old, who learns about space flight.
On a different note, there is a scene where Lovell, Haise, and Mattingly are in a simulator attempting to dock with the LEM from the command module. As a veteran Space Camp attender, I know from the simulations that we do that this is a stressful and even nerve-racking experience (you can most definitely work up a sweat from the anxiety of landing a virtual shuttle, or in this case, dock a virtual capsule). After reading the book Apollo 13, I had a better understanding of the mechanics of this scene than ever before.
The movie continues for the remainder of the week, and the unfinished part of it is mostly the mission itself. In fact, we’ve already had liftoff of the colossal Saturn V rocket.
This is truly a demonstration of NASA at it’s highest- problem solving beyond belief, and courage beyond measure. This is the NASA that I believe in.