For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-splashdown
The first men to walk on an alien world returned safely to earth 50 years ago today. Getting to the moon and landing on it was a challenge, but if the Apollo 11 crew could not make it back home, then all would have been lost. Here’s a professionally done animation you can show your students this week to explain all the steps involved in getting from the surface of the moon back to earth:
The most hazardous phase of the return flight is reentry into the earth’s atmosphere, when friction produces incredible temperatures on the bottom surface of the capsule. (The same effect causes most meteoroids — “shooting stars” — to burn up in the atmosphere.) During this reentry phase there is a also nerve-wracking radio blackout for a brief interval before contact is reestablished, the parachutes open, and the capsule safely strikes the water.
The Apollo 11 crew and the Columbia capsule were fished out of the Pacific by the crew of another fine ship, the U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier. The Hornet is now a floating museum in San Francisco Bay that you and your homescholars can perhaps visit someday:
Here’s one more interesting historical anecdote you can share with your students about the Columbia capsule. That tiny room — think of it as a room — was an intense workshop and laboratory, with all three astronauts engaged in difficult operational and scientific activity throughout the mission. It turns out that during their daily work they scribbled quite a bit of stuff on the walls and instrument panels: navigational calculations, notes about the equipment, and more. After their safe splashdown and recovery, Mike Collins got the urge to go back into the capsule and write a note of thanks, which he did, and which can be seen there to this day.
The Columbia capsule is now housed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, but the museum’s website says it is not currently on display — so if you want to see it in person you may have to wait for a future opportunity.
What other grand historical anniversaries are you studying in your homeschool this month? 😊
❡ Come, here’s the map: If you turn to plate 109 in your recommended homeschool atlas (riverhouses.org/books) you’ll be able to locate the section of the Pacific Ocean about 800 miles southwest of Hawaii — notably empty, of course — where Apollo 11 made its final splashdown. 🌎
❡ Stay in the loop: This is one of our regular Homeschool Holidays & Anniversaries posts. Add your name to our free weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞