Hank: Thanks to Hack The Moon for
sponsoring this very special episode of
SciShow. Go to wehackthemoon.com to learn
even more about the Apollo 11 mission.
Almost 50 years ago on July 20th, 1969,
space exploration changed forever.
That day the United States landed the
first astronauts on the moon as part of
the Apollo 11 Mission.
And with that famous one small step, they
changed the way we think about our planet
Apollo 11 wasn’t the first time humans had
been to space or anything, that happened
in 1961 with a Soviet flight
followed shortly by an American one.
But space, we didn’t even really know
what that was until fairly recently.
The moon, on the other hand, we’ve
been staring at since we existed.
Watching it wander through the sky,
chasing or being chased by the Sun, moving
through its phases.
It is another world — one that has
profound effects on our world and also on
There’s never been a time in human history
when we did not gaze at the moon and
And sending people to walk on the surface
of another world –the enormity of that
giant leap– It’s something that changed
us, something that has inspired us as
individuals and as a species ever since.
So we wanted to do something
special to celebrate.
We wanted to ask a pretty bold question
because while the whole SciShow team loves
Apollo, we couldn’t help but wonder–and
we hope you won’t get too mad at us if we
ask, was the Apollo program a bad idea?
Many people remember it as this beautiful
thing that united the world, but if you
really think about it,
it kind of seems like..
I don’t know ridiculous?
Only five years passed between when the
Soviet Union flung the first satellite
into orbit and when President John F.
Kennedy said these words,
President Kennedy: “We
choose to go to the Moon.
We choose to go to the Moon.
We choose to go to the moon in this
decade and do the other things.
Not because they are easy
but because they are hard.”
Hank: A year after that Kennedy was dead
and only six years later Neil Armstrong
and Buzz Aldrin were
standing on another world.
In hindsight this looks like a work of
genius, but lives were lost and other
disasters were only narrowly averted.
And if that happened, how far back
with those tragedies have pushed space
Ultimately was the risk worth the reward
and how many close calls were there,
These are big questions and ones that you
can spend a lot of time thinking about but
at the end of the day, we’re SciShow.
Sitting around in wondering
isn’t really our thing.
So we decided to get to the bottom of it.
[ ♪INTRO ]
Hank: We realized we weren’t gonna get
to the bottom of this by looking at
It’s pretty subjective stuff.
So we decided to talk to experts.
And to talk to experts, we have Alexis who
has gone all over America to talk to those people.
I went to London to talk to one person.
What do you have for us?
Alexis: Yeah, honestly, I think a really
good place to start with this is just to
know about the politics.
If you want to understand why the Apollo
program happened, it’s important to
understand that the political
climate of the 1950s and 60s.
During this time the United States and
the Soviet Union were in the middle of the
Cold War which was essentially the
showdown between two ideologies.
You had the Soviet Union and communism on
one hand and the US and capitalism on the
And during this conflict, space became a
battleground for these two superpowers to
prove which ideology was best.
Initially, the Soviet Union
was actually winning this race.
They launched the first satellite.
They sent the first human into space.
And in the US, people were concerned that
these achievements would cause the public
to believe that communism was the better
option which the US was just not okay with.
So that’s when the moon became the goal.
Ultimately the United States wanted to be
the first to send someone to the Moon to
prove how great capitalism was.
And the Soviet Union wanted to do it to
prove the same thing about communism.
So even if most people today remember
Apollo as a primarily scientific program, it wasn’t.
In the beginning, it was mainly
about proving a political point.
Margaret Weitekamp: The Apollo program
came with a lot of risk, political risk.
This was a big gamble on a large
technology program that was funded and
started because they wanted to
be able to show it to the world.
Brady Haran: The other thing a lot of
people would say is we only did it because
of politics and the Cold War and a stick
it up the Russians and cuz there was this
competition going on.
And you know what?
Brady Haran: That’s completely true.
But like I see absolutely
nothing wrong with that.
Like, that is just the
circumstances that it took.
The technology had to be in the right
place and the political climate, the
economic climate all had to align in this
very unique way and that’s what happened
and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Yes, Apollo was only made possible because
of this unique set of circumstances in
this competitive political climate that
was created, but you know, I don’t think
that’s a negative.
I just think we should kind of be a little
bit grateful that it happened because if
that if that circumstance hadn’t happened,
we probably –you’re right — we probably
wouldn’t have gone to the Moon.
There probably wouldn’t have been the
will to spend that much money and do that.
Noah Petro: Apollo scientifically started
where science had to fit into the corners
as much as they could.
The initial plan for Apollo 11 included
one astronaut getting out, collecting
samples, and getting
back in and coming back.
And several scientists including Jack
Schmitt who at the time was an astronaut
and training the other astronauts on what
they would do when they got to the moon
was able to convince NASA management that,
No, no, no, we really need to make the
most of this one mission.
If Apollo 11 is the only time we go to the
Moon, we need to deploy experiments on the Moon.
Alexis: It’s really interesting to think
about because like people pointed out,
it’s this thing that took all of
this time and all of these resources.
And it brings up the question of like if
there had been no conflict to motivate
that when we have bothered?
Margaret Weitekamp: If you look at the
public opinion polls from the time,
especially when you asked a question
phrased as, “Do you think it’s worth the
money that’s being spent?”
Almost never did you get a majority saying
that they were fully in support of the
When the missions were actually
successful, people recognized in the
moment that they were seeing history in
the making and they wanted to celebrate
that and be some part of that so that I
think there’s a fundamental disconnect
between what you see in public opinion
polling in terms of our willingness to
revert national resources to this program
from a general American interest in the
idea that we as Americans are explorers
and that space is a part of what we do now.
Alexis: So growing up something I heard a
lot about Apollo is because it was crammed
into this really short time period, you
had the situation where engineers were
working like eight days a week and
25 hours a day to get this done.
What was it actually like
working on the program?
Bob Sieck: Well, it was, it was high
activity, high intensity work and the work
weeks, work days were long.
And in retrospect I would for those of us
that did the operations down here where
the spacecraft were assembled, the rockets
were assembled, and we processed and
launched, and it was about as…
A marathon at lasted about seven years.
That was pretty much it.
Hank: So far, it’s feeling like the
experts aren’t really alleviating my concerns here.
We have this sort of politically motivated
program that you kind of have to eeck some
science out of.
It’s tremendously costly and it’s a huge
amount of effort necessary to make it happen.
We had people in space but the period of
time it took for us to go from one person
in space to this giant leap into
deep space– it was so fast.
Alexis: You hear people say of just like
we worked on Apollo around the clock for
seven years or how many
years or whatever…
You think that was like the best idea, of
just like trying to cram that in in such a
short time frame like–
Destin Sandlin: Deadlines are good.
Destin Sandlin: Yeah, deadlines are good.
Like, this video you’re making, right?
Destin Sandlin: You got
a deadline, don’t you?
Destin Sandlin: Okay, and so it’s good to
have like we call it popping a chalk line.
It’s good to have a moment in
time, like that’s the line.
We got to do this by then.
Destin Sandlin: I think it’s a good
thing to have things like that.
You need if you’re going to have a massive
engineering program, you have to have a
schedule because schedule helps
you mitigate different things.
Like for example, as an engineer.
I can keep working on something
forever until it’s absolutely perfect.
But at some point in time, you have to
get it good enough and unless you have a
schedule to motivate you to
shed all of your uncertainties.
You’re never going to
think it’s good enough.
Hank: We also don’t know very much
about space at this point in the ’60s.
How often are there solar flares that
could be completely devastating to a
We don’t know any of this stuff.
It’s all guesses.
There was so much we didn’t know.
Alexis: And even as I was talking to
people on my trip, they kept bringing up
things that I had no idea about.
Hank: Of course
Alexis: Right, so I talked to you to
environmental engineers at Kennedy Space
Center and they brought up the fact that
during the Apollo program because of all
of these things we didn’t know, the
environment around Kennedy got kind of wrecked.
Jacqueline Quinn: You did a little history
the US Environmental Protection Agency was
established December 2nd of 1970.
So there was a year and a half between
when we’re putting men on the moon and
leaving footprints behind and when the
regulatory agency started up within the
United States, so there’s a lot of — from
an environmental perspective, there’s a
timeline that needs to be understood so
that you can understand that, you know,
all industries followed regulations, but
regulations didn’t happen at that point,
you know, in 1940, 1950 or 1960.
They didn’t even begin or come into
fruition until 1970 until we’d already put
men on the moon.
So a lot of our regulations that we do now
as protectors and stewards of what you see
behind us is different than
what we did back in that era.
Rosaly Santos: Any industry that use,
store, or dispose chemicals in the 50s,
60s, and 70s had some environmental
impact that was unforeseen.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
was enacted in the 1970s which provided
some guidance of how to manage the waste
from whenever you start using it until you
dispose of it.
And then the Hazardous Waste
amendments was enacted in the 1980s.
That provided initiated corrective action
for any impact that may have happened in the past.
So from then on all the industries were
in tune with environmental regulations and
they complied with all those new
requirements that needed to get done.
Hank: Basically what I’m getting from this
is that you can’t be expected to follow a
regulation that doesn’t exist.
Alexis: Right exactly.
That was kind of the point
they were trying to make.
Like technically we could have sat around
for like 10 or 20 years to figure all of
this stuff out, but it’s like we didn’t
know what we didn’t know and we weren’t
from a political standpoint — the Soviet
Union probably would have landed on the Moon.
Hank: Yeah, but that doesn’t
explain everything here.
Like this was a very rushed engineering
project, people died, Apollo 1 happened.
Apollo 1 was going to be the first
crewed mission of the Apollo program.
Crewed by Gus Grissom, Ed
White, and Roger Chaffee.
On January 27, 1967, during a crewed
launch rehearsal, the cabin was
pressurized with pure oxygen,
higher than atmospheric pressure.
After an electrical short nylon in the
capsule caught fire and the environment.
Because the internal pressure of the
capsule was higher than the external
pressure of the atmosphere, it was
impossible to quickly remove the door and
all three astronauts were killed.
After the accident, all flights
were stopped for 20 months.
Alexis: But it’s actually possible that
Apollo one is the reason the rest of the
program didn’t go
terribly, terribly wrong.
Bob Sieck: And there were a number of
those close calls and then and then right
before our first manned mission
on Apollo, the tragedy occured.
And everything comes to a stop and you
go look at everything you’re doing.
The first to figure out what happened and
and fix that before you get on with the goal.
And from a big picture standpoint, and
this is not rationalizing to me, the whole
purpose of Apollo 1 was to be the first
step in getting humans to the Moon.
Because of what happened with Apollo 1,
we looked at all of our preparation up to
that point in time and what everyone said
is well, these are the things we got to fix.
This is what we really
learned from Apollo 1.
Margaret Weitekamp: Without the changes
that came after Apollo 1, we would not
have gotten to the Moon.
We were on a path that ultimately would
not have worked and that dramatic change
cost three lives and people were forever
after very aware of the high personal cost
because those were people they knew.
Those were people they were friends
with, they knew their families.
They knew their children.
So the change that in trajectory there in
some ways they did Apollo better starting from 1967.
Noah Petro: At the time, it was really
important to understand what had happened
in the Apollo 1 fire make sure that
something like that never happen again,
but also that we, you know created
a culture of safety acceptance.
But at the same time with
some risk tolerance too.
You know, if we were terrified of any
problem happening, we would never have
gone back into space, but we do because
that’s our job and there’s things to be
So you take a risk, you weigh what might
happen and the mitigations to those things
and move forward.
Alexis: When I went into all of these
interviews, I was like, oh yeah, there is
no way we could have done this safely in
the length of time that we took to do it.
But people kept telling me is like, yes,
the Apollo program was risky, but like so is space.
The Apollo engineer’s built all of these
safeguards to try and mitigate as much
risk as possible.
Bob Sieck: Even though yes, it was fun,
but it was serious business and people
would often stay over overlapping the next
shift coming on board because they wanted
to see how well the stuff that they
thought they fixed on their shift if it
really worked right.
And but there was that kind of dedication
and passion for the for the effort and we
never lost sight of the fact and, this
was drilled into us as soon as we came on
board, that the crew returning safely from
whichever mission your assigned to is the
most important thing about your work.
Noah Petro: I think the reason that Apollo
is so successful is that in their training
regimen they went through in excruciating
detail all of these potential problems
that could crop up and
how they would solve them.
And we learned that Apollo 13; that when
one of the most catastrophic things that
could happen in space: you lose oxygen
tanks and you lose your power source, oh,
well, we know how to fix that.
Hank: Apollo 13 nearly ended in disaster
56 hours after takeoff when an electrical
short in the cryogenic oxygen tanks
resulted in the following call from Apollo
13 to Mission Control.
Jim Lovell: “Uh, Houston,
we’ve had a problem.
We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.”
Mission Control: “Roger, main B undervolt.
Okay stand by 13, we’re looking at it.”
Fred Haise: “Okay.
Right now, Houston, the
voltage is — is looking good.
And we had a pretty large bang associated
with the caution and warning there.”
Hank: The pretty large bang in question
eventually resulted in a loss of all the
oxygen in the Command Module.
That meant no oxygen to breathe, no water
to drink, and no power for the fuel cells.
After some significant engineering
challenges were overcome, the astronauts
rode out the majority of the
mission in the lunar lander.
And though they were not able to land on
the moon, everyone did at least return
Noah Petro: Apollo 11, they left the lunar
module operating after they left the Moon.
It was in lunar orbit.
They left it operating to basically
see how long past its design life.
It could go and that informed
what they did on Apollo 13.
So, you know, there was this entire
culture of maximizing what you had to
learn what you could do in the event of
both success and in the case of something
If you listen to the the tapes of launch
of Apollo 11 or any of the missions
they’re always reporting out, “okay, you
know, we’re in mode 1 Bravo were in what
You know, it wasn’t up the moment the
rocket launch, we’re on our way to the Moon.
The moment the rocket launched is okay if
something happens wrong now, How do we get out of it?
And that happens throughout the whole
breadth of Apollo even by Apollo 17, the
time they’re getting ready to lift off,
they had checklists and sequences they
could do if the rocket
didn’t ignite the first time.
The idea that something wouldn’t work
as planned was so deeply embedded in
everything that was done in Apollo, that I
don’t know that there was time to stop and
think, “well actually,
what would happen if..”
“Well, if the rocket doesn’t launch, we’ll do
this and then we’ll do this and we’ll do…
“They all had, there was solutions
to every potential problem.
Hank: So the thing that maybe we’ve all
heard that the Apollo Astronauts were just
a bunch of cowboys in space
might not be quite accurate.
I feel like that problem comes up when
you really only focus on the astronauts.
There was a group of guys who were really
risk tolerant and really well acquainted with risk.
But when you look at the engineers and the
people who built this program, that wasn’t
really the case.
The thing is, though, the people I talked
to weren’t arguing that there was no risk.
Alexis: They pointed out that
space is just really risky.
So when I ask them like if we could
have done Apollo better or safer.
They had some really interesting answers.
Noah Petro: There were risks involved and
you know, all of the astronauts all the
people part of it realize that exploration
has inherent risks and you’re going
whether you’re trying to climb the highest
mountain or swim across an ocean or do whatever.
You’re taking risks and you always want to
minimize the hazards that are involved but
there is hazards involved.
I think exploration has
inherent risks in it.
Margaret Weitekamp: Anytime you’re doing
human spaceflight, there’s a lot of risk
because you’re putting a life at stake.
And the human in the technological
equation is the only part that you really
can’t re-engineer or perfect.
Humans like a very narrow temperature
spectrum, we get too cold very easily, we
get too hot very easily.
We human beings don’t like to be shaken
very hard or it gets very hard for them to function.
They need to eat.
As they breathe, they foul their own are
so you need to keep replenishing that.
So the human factor is a tremendous risk,
if you will, in putting this together,
this is also happening in a moment when
there weren’t really computer smaller than a room.
There weren’t really ways of taking
photographs without physical film which
meant you had to carry it
there and carry it back.
The kind of uncrewed robotic exploration
that starts in the 1970s, going to other
planets, putting landers on other
planets, wasn’t possible in the mid-1960s.
Destin Sandlin: These
astronauts, they know the risk.
Destin Sandlin: I mean they know there’s
a chance of death and they sign up for it.
Some people have always been willing to
accept a higher level of risk to make a
better life for others that
aren’t willing to do that.
Hank: Throughout the
course of this episode.
We’ve said a lot about risk, but it’s
worth remembering that there’s still so
We could not dive into like the story
of the Apollo guidance computer.
For context computers before Apollo were
mostly made with tiny switches called
transistors connected by a bunch of wires,
but that could get bulky and computers
often filled large rooms.
So that had to change if we
were going to fly to the moon.
Listen to what these engineers had to say.
John Miller, Draper Engineer: The
guidance computer was really an advance.
And the only way to get the weight and
the size down was to go to integrated circuits.
That’s something that
hadn’t been done before.
George Schmidt, Draper Flight Simulation
Team: I’ve heard that at one time we were
testing one-third of all integrated
circuits that were being manufactured in
the United States.
Hank: Integrated circuits combined
transistors and wires on a small piece of
silicon, making them more
durable and much lighter.
While it took a lot of testing to
get them ready, it all worked out.
These interviews came from Engineers who
worked at the MIT instrumentation lab and
now called Draper during
the Apollo program.
Draper played a major role in the program
and was among other things responsible for
developing the navigation and guidance
system including the first digital flight
computer that navigated the
astronauts to the moon and back.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of
the Apollo 11 Landing, they’ve created a
website called Hack the Moon which
explores the technology behind the
missions and features imagery and
interviews of many of the people who made it possible.
In the rest of this video we’re going to
talk more about whether or not the risks
we took with Apollo we’re worth it.
But if you want to learn more about the
people behind the missions when we’re
done, you can head over to hack the
moon’s website at we hackthemoon.com.
Now, more about those risks.
So you take all these
risks you do the thing.
What do we get from it?
Alexis: A lot.
Which, thank goodness.
That’s my non-risk tolerance speaking.
Thank goodness it was worth it.
Alexis: Yeah, you get a lot from it.
We’ve talked about this a lot on various
SciShow Space episodes, but we learned
more about what space is like, what the
human body does in space, we learned about the moon.
Noah Petro: Subsequent Apollo missions
had something called the ALSEP the Apollo
Lunar Surface Experiments Package.
That wasn’t going to be ready for Apollo
11, but Jack Schmitt was able to convince
NASA basically that, “No, let’s just
deploy a very simple experiment that only
one astronaut needs to deploy.
Take about 20 minutes, set it up and make
very basic measurements at the time that
the the idea was the only measurements
that we would want to make our the
fundamentals of what the lunar seismicity
like and deploy a retroreflector, a mirror
on the surface that we could laze to from
the earth, that we still used to this day,
50 years later now.
First samples that came
back from Apollo 11.
And it’s actually important to remember
that Apollo 11 launched on July 16th.
Those samples were in a lab in Houston
less than two weeks later, you know,
that’s fast sample return.
And so within two weeks of launch, they
had those samples and their preliminary
examination went on and very soon
realize that the moon is very old.
Those basalts that they landed on were,
you know, well over three and a half
billion years old.
Also, very dry.
There’s no water in them.
That was the surprise and that they were
volcanic and had a lot of titanium and an
elements and minerals
that we see here on Earth.
They also found minerals that had not
yet been identified on the earth as well.
And so it was this this real discovery of
what the moon is made of and how old it is.
That was the great unanswered question.
I think much of what we do today is
informed from Apollo samples, and we’re
still learning things
from the Apollo samples.
They were analyzed initially 50 years ago
and are still being analyzed today and
we’re still learning new things from
those samples, you know, we didn’t learn
everything from them 50 years ago when
we put them in the safe and walk away.
With new instruments and new techniques
we learn new things and that informs our
understanding of the Moon and by
association the rest of the solar system.
Margaret Weitekamp: There is a very
legitimate argument to be made that all of
the money that was spent on the Apollo
program was spent on the ground.
It created engineering jobs.
It created whole communities
in Florida, in Alabama.
And in fact the federal government as a
funder of this big science project was
able then to push communities in say the
deep south to say you can’t be segregated
and take Federal funding.
You need to find housing for the African
American engineers that we want you to be hiring.
And so you need to be thinking
differently about say race relations.
And so in that way the space program is
part of that larger push in the 1960s
where Federal money is being used not only
to fund a technology program, but also to
push some social issues.
Hank: We did this gigantic thing not to
like, you know, get stronger and kill
people but to like do a big amazing thing.
And it’s big, right, like we’ve been
looking at the moon since humans existed
and then we walked on it.
Alexis: That’s weird.
Alexis: That’s so good.
A couple people also said some just
like really beautiful poetic things.
Margaret Weitekamp: So we just had Jim
Lovell here at the museum in December for
the anniversary of Apollo 8, which was
that famous mission at Christmas time of
1968 where they circled the moon.
They went all the way around.
In fact, because they were not on a
trajectory that was intended to be a
practice for a landing, they went farther
than any human beings have ever been away
from the earth and Lovell talked very
persuasively about the earthrise image–
that color picture that they took as they
came back around the moon and looked back
and saw the Earth hanging in shadow,
but hanging in space in front of them.
And said really, you know, we went to the
moon but what we discovered was the Earth,
was looking back at ourselves.
And it was not a picture that had never
been taken before; there had been robotic
missions that had taken a
picture very much like that.
So it was not completely unexpected.
But the power of knowing that that image
had been taken by a person, by someone
like you or me who was behind a camera
pushing the shutter and seeing that with
his own eyes really was electric.
That image ended up on the cover of
newspapers across the world and really it
begins a kind of much more complex
cultural process of us thinking of
ourselves as a planet, or starting to
imagine and understand who we are all on
this little globe together.
Brady Haran: What’s the
point of living longer?
And what’s the point of having a slightly
more comfortable life and just having more
heart beats and more days here on Earth,
if you don’t do things like go to the
Moon, if you don’t create art, if you
don’t do amazing things, I don’t see why
we would want to spend all this money
living longer if you don’t do great things.
I don’t think the point of our existence
is just to try and prolong our existence.
I think the point of our
existence is to do great things.
And to do amazing things and I think
Apollo is one of the real amazing things
that humans did.
Hank: So count of three was it worth it?
1 2 3.
Hank & Alexis: Yes.
Hank: So a question I asked Brady was if
this was all worth it then can we do it again?
Brady Haran: I do find it hard to imagine
us doing something as high risk as that
now in this kind of era of like health
and safety, but I don’t think it’s just
because we live in an
era of health and safety.
I think it’s because we haven’t got that
same hyper-competitiveness that forces
people to take bold risks that, you know,
some of these really amazing things that
happen: getting to the South Pole, getting
to the top of Mount Everest, getting to
the Moon come about because humans
are scared of being beaten to it.
They want it they want to be first and
they and they’re willing to take risks for that prize.
And those top prizes those those prizes
that are most sought after, are risky to get to.
Because if they weren’t someone
would have already done it.
So I do feel a bit like, you
know, at those frontiers,
if there’s enough competition, people
are willing to be a little bit risky.
I don’t know what will happen with Mars.
If it’s companies that end up getting
their first, if it’s the Elon Musks and
it’s not NASA that gets there first and
two or three companies are vying for it.
Are they going to take a risk?
I don’t know, you know, are
they going to risk their brand?
America kinda risked its brand, didn’t it?
If they killed a bunch
of astronauts, you know?
Are companies as willing to take a risk
with their brand as a nation that maybe
can absorb failure more easily?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
It was risky.
We don’t take those risks now.
Will we take those risks, will
we take those risks again?
I don’t know.
Alexis: When I talk to other people about
it, they actually had a slightly different answer.
Noah Petro: You know,
Apollo is nothing else.
I mean, it was a great accomplishment.
It was an incredible achievement, but also
showed, you know, what you can do when you
have a goal.
Apollo: land on the moon,
back to Earth in a decade.
With a goal of landing humans anywhere in
the solar system with a destination and
the right data, that can be accomplished.
You know, we know more about almost all
of the planets in the solar system than we
knew certainly 50 years ago.
But any object you want to go to today
whether it’s moon, Mars, an asteroid, we
have ample data to accommodate human
exploration of any of those destinations.
And so it’s just a matter of having the
prerogative in the the interest in going.
Destin Sandlin: I think what’s necessary
in order to do something huge like this is
You know, economic ability, you know,
money and then a a political will to do it.
And so I think we had a unique mixture of
all three of those things back in the 60s
and we were able to do it.
Sputnik just freaked people out.
And so at that point it was
like, yeah we can do this.
So now you get into this risk
versus reward discussion, right?
And I think we’re finally getting to the
place now where people realize that space
is awesome and we should do
things because we should explore.
But it’s a lot harder because
there’s no, there’s no timeline.
Bob Sieck: Today, not only industry but
people in general will dwell too much on
the, well, yeah, but what
if we don’t succeed in this.
We can’t accept you know stuff not working
or having a tragedy or an accident.
We don’t want to, you know, we don’t
want to have to deal with that.
So as a result, let’s not do it.
Bob Sieck: Take the easy way out.
Financial standpoint: why should we invest
a lot of money in this and the project may
have to come to, you know, have to be cut
off because we didn’t make the progress we
wanted in the amount of time.
We don’t want to take that risk.
So since we don’t want to
take the risk, don’t even try.
Bob Sieck: And I think
that’s bad for our society.
There’s a difference between analyzing and
accepting a risk as opposed to gambling.
I’m not a gambler.
I would never propose we gamble on making
the decision to spend this much money for
this program or whatever
but look at the risk.
Look at the benefit, assess it and you
know, if the goal is worth the risk, don’t
worry about it.
Just go do it.
Hank: From the beginning I wasn’t coming
at this question as like was it worth it
to go to the moon.
It’s was it the right way to do it.
Was it too risky?
If things had gone wrong, how much would
that have set us back and after these
conversations that, mostly you had, I’m
starting to feel like this might have been
the only time we could have done it.
Alexis: Yeah, like if you fast
forward even 10, 20, 30 years…
Did that perfect storm
of conditions exist?
Kind of not.
And Interesting to think about too is when
I talk to people they had said, you know,
you need that timeline and that motivation
but at least in the US, if we were going
to do something like Apollo again through
NASA, that’s under the control of the
So it’s like, if a president comes in,
wants one thing and the next person in
office wants something else…
Hank: Doesn’t want to be just sort of
enacting the previous president’s vision.
Hank: Which makes you think like, John F.
Kennedy having that mission unfulfilled
not just because he was voted out of
office but because he was assassinated,
like we have to sort of like come together
to try and have that vision be completed.
Hank: So Apollo was a good idea.
It was just a hard one.
Which doesn’t mean it’s bad.
In talking about Apollo, it really makes
you think about kind of space exploration
Like, if it’s risky and
it’s hard, why do we do it?
And there are a lot of reasons for it.
Hank: Yeah, and one of those
reasons, is because it’s hard.
Alexis: Yeah, we like to explore things.
Hank: Yeah, we like to test our limits.
So, there you have it.
The Apollo program was one of the most
difficult scientific projects of the 20th
century, possibly one of the most
difficult scientific projects ever, but
just because something is hard
doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
When you remember the full story of
Apollo, you start to realize that history
is more complicated than you might think
and that this achievement would not have
been possible without the hundreds
or thousands of people supporting it.
Thanks to the engineers who work to put
these missions together, we were able to
go to a place that we had
been staring at for Millenia.
Not just because we got lucky but because
we had a goal and because people worked
really hard to achieve it.
And honestly, that’s pretty encouraging
because like some of our experts said, it
means that maybe with the right teams and
enough perseverance, we could do something
like this again.
We couldn’t have made this episode of
scishow without our experts, so thank you
to everyone who took the time to talk to
us and share your wisdom about the Apollo program.
And thank you to Alexis for traveling
around and talking to all those very cool people.
We also of course could not have tried
a big new thing without support from our
viewers and from our patrons on Patreon.
So thank you so much for watching, your
support allows us to take risks, like
making a new kind of episode.
It was really fun.
And we hope you enjoyed it.
If you did we have some cool news for you
to celebrate Apollo 11 and our new project
here, we made mission patches just like
the kind that actual astronauts wear.
They’re very good and you can put them on
backpacks or jean jackets or space suits
to show your support
for Sideshow and Apollo.
They’ll only be available through the end
of July, though, so if you want one, you
can click the link in the description.
I, for one, am gonna go put
it on the backpack right now.
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