Saturday, July 20, 2019

Shoot for the Moon

It's the fiftieth anniversary of humankind's first steps on the moon, so Spaceback Saturday takes a look at editorial cartoonists' reaction to this amazing scientific achievement.
"Across the Threshold of Dreams..." by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, July 21, 1969
Seen against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, urban and campus unrest, and assassinations, Americans, and people the world over, latched onto the safe landing and return of the Apollo 11 astronauts as a sign that there was still cause for optimism for humankind.
"Start a Whole New Chapter" by Karl Hubenthal in Los Angeles Herald Examiner, July 20/21, 1969
Sci Fi movies and TV have made the idea of galactic space travel almost routine, but consider what a feat traveling to the moon truly was. Only fifty years earlier, man had just flown across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. The distance to the moon is almost 70 times farther. There is enough space between the Earth and our moon that all of the other planets in our solar system would fit between them with room to spare. (You'd have to angle the rings out of the way, but still...) And, as demonstrated by Apollo 13, if something goes wrong, you can't just do a U-turn and come back. Or wait for the next shuttle.
"First Time in Eternity" by Reginald Manning in Arizona Republic, July 20/21, 1969
"One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind" was the theme of a great many of the first response cartoons. Reg Manning put astronaut Neil Armstrong's name on that footstep, while John Fischetti acknowledged the second half of the quotation.
"Imprint" by John Fischetti in Chicago Daily News, July 20/21, 1969
I have to admit that my own memories of the moon landing are somewhat hazy. We watched live coverage of all the Gemini and Apollo blast-offs, usually on NBC with Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Frank McGee, on a 21" black and white TV. Where we lived, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon when the Eagle landed. The first moon walk was past my bedtime, but this was an event not to be missed, and I'm positive Dad — born in the same year as all three astronauts — let us kids stay up for it.
"Unbound" by Herbert Block in Washington Post, July 21, 1969
TV coverage showed us handheld models in the studio and fuzzy footage from the lander's camera; the better resolution film would wait until the astronauts had safely returned, and we didn't see color photos until the newsmagazines came a week later. Unfortunately, since the coverage of the moon walk was repeated several times after the live broadcast, and again and again when these anniversaries come along, I have difficulty separating the original experience from all the others.
"Yankee Tourist" by Gene Basset for Scripps-Howard Newspapers, ca. July 21, 1969
Speaking of handheld models, I do remember piecing together plastic models of the orbital craft and the lunar lander. I think they came "free inside" cereal boxes, but I'm not positive about that.

Well, since nine-year-old me has so little to say to me fifty years later, let's get back to what the adults were up to.
"Moon, June, Croon ... Armstrong?" by Thomas Darcy in New York Newsday, July, 1969
As the guy creating the first footprint on the moon, Neil Armstrong was name-checked in more cartoons than his fellow Apollo 11 crew members were.
"New Craters on the Moon" by John Collins in Montreal Gazette, July 22, 1969
This Canadian cartoonist makes me think of the Onion's Stan Kelly with his "Our Watching Nail-Biting World" in the upper corner, but it's nice that he includes Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin's lunar footprint. (That nail-biting world is kind of superfluous for this cartoon; nevertheless, you do have to appreciate that, given that nobody had ever landed on the moon before, nobody had ever lifted off from it, either.)
Illustration by Chuck Livolsi in Pittsburgh Press, July 23, 1969
This front page cartoon by the Pittsburgh Press's Chuck Livolsi is unusual for singling out astronaut Michael Collins, who was tasked with piloting the Apollo 11 spacecraft in orbit round and around the moon and never got to set foot on it. Ever.
Uncaptioned, by Wayne Stayskal in Chicago American-Today, July 21, 1969
Wayne Stayskal used the occasion to pay tribute to the three astronauts who died aboard Apollo 1.
"And a Boomerang" by Hugh Haynie in Louisville Courier Journal, ca. July 20, 1969
Leading up to the Apollo 11 moon landing, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a "space race" in which the Russians had a head start, having launched the first space satellite and the first man into space. They were, moreover, the first to land hardware on the moon and to fly another craft around the far side of the moon, both in 1959 as part of their unmanned Luna program.
"Upstager" by Pat Oliphant in Denver Press, ca. July 19, 1969
A day after the Apollo 11 moon landing, the U.S.S.R. announced that its Luna 15 had touched down in the Mare Crisium, about 500 miles from where the Eagle landed. Launched three days before Apollo 11, it was supposed to return samples of lunar soil to Russia; but since it didn't so much "touch down" as "crash" — a detail overlooked by official Soviet news reports — it failed in its mission.
"Eclipsed" by Bill Crawford for Newspaper Enterprise Association, ca. July 22, 1969
The Russians did have plans for manned missions to the moon, but unlike the Americans, the Soviets tended to announce their space missions only after they were successfully completed. (The U.S. and Soviet space programs did, however, share their flight plans to avoid any collision between Apollo 11 and Luna 15.) After failed attempts in 1971 and '72 to launch rockets equipped with lunar landing craft, the Russians quietly abandoned their manned landing program.

Shortly thereafter, the U.S. abandoned ours.
"I Used to Dream About Going to the Moon" by J. Stockett in Afro-American, July 26, 1969
The marvel of the moon landing didn't stop people from wondering what practical use we had on Earth for a bunch of moon rocks, considering the problems of racial discrimination, poverty, pollution, war, disease, etc., etc.
"Here Man First Set Foot..." by Paul Conrad in Los Angeles Times, ca. July 22, 1969
But the space program gave us Tang and dust busters, so there.
"Next They'll Bring Us a Polluted Atmosphere" by Bill Mauldin in Chicago Sun-Times, ca. July 22, 1969
Why, yes, there is a list of all the crap we have left up there.

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