Imagine that you have been selected the rare honor of commanding a NASA mission to the moon. Your ship is built, the excitement builds and then….the Apollo program is cancelled. Fred Haise was the mission commander of NASA’s Apollo 19. This is his actual ship (‘LEM’ or ‘Lunar Excursion Module’) built by Grumman on Long Island to land on the moon in 1972 or 73. The Apollo program was terminated early after the successful Apollo 17 mission to the moon and back. But crews had already been announced and Moon Landers were built for Apollo 18 and Apollo 19 missions before the axe fell. You can see this rare ship at the Long Island Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, about 20 miles east of NYC. A museum official told me that the great Fred Haise, the mission Commander of Apollo 19 has visited several times. I can only imagine what thoughts he had as he stared up at what could have been. Fred was one of the amazing Apollo 13 astronauts who survived that ill-fated mission and made it back safely…just, made it back. For that mission, Apollo 13, Fred was the pilot of the similar LEM you see below. He circled the moon, used the Apollo 13 LEM for survival but never got the chance to pilot it down to the surface. He remains a true hero and went on to the Shuttle program. I wish he had gotten the chance in 1973 to go back in the ship you see below as was originally planned.
As a footnote, my wife’s Dad was an engineer who designed the footpads on the LEM. Long Island once was a major aerospace engineering center.
Want to know a little more? Learn how your cell phone has more total computing power than the computers on the Apollo 11 mission, plus nine other facts here: http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-06/40-years-later-ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-apollo-ii-moon-landing