Nearly 50 years have passed since NASA’s Apollo 8 mission orbited the moon for the first time in history.
On December 21, 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, William Anders, and James Lovell left the Kennedy Space Center to fly around the moon. They spent 20 hours in lunar orbit, then returned home after more than six days in space.
The Apollo 8 mission was a critical step toward achieving President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon.
Nine other lunar missions followed Apollo 8, bringing a dozen men to the moon and gathering hundreds of pounds of rock and soil samples for analysis.
In almost five decades since then, however, no US spacecraft has landed on the lunar surface.
That may change in the next few years. In November, NASA announced that it was offering up to $2.6 billion in contracts to nine American companies that could land probes on the moon by 2022. NASA does not want to buy the lunar landers or take responsibility for launching, landing, or controlling them. Instead, the space agency wants the private sector to deal with those challenges and bid on the opportunity to take NASA’s experiments to the moon.
In the meantime, take a look back at all of NASA’s Apollo missions, which flew between 1968 and 1972 and succeeded in putting the first human on the moon.
The Apollo 1 mission was designed to launch a spacecraft into low-Earth orbit. But it ended in tragedy when a fire killed three astronauts in their spaceship during a routine pre-launch test.
Thick smoke filled the crew module of the Apollo 1 capsule on January 27, 1967. Three NASA astronauts — Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Edward White — were inside performing a routine test, but they were unable to open a hatch in time to escape the explosion.
Emergency rescue teams rushed to the launchpad (located where the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is today), but they were too late.
An investigation revealed several issues with the capsule’s design, including an electrical wiring problem and flammable materials inside the crew cabin.
On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 1’s fatal fire, NASA displayed the hatch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The deadly fire led NASA to postpone other planned crewed launches, and no flights or missions were labeled Apollo 2 or 3.
In the spring of 1967, NASA announced it would keep the designation of Apollo 1 for the mission that never occurred.
The rocket meant for Apollo 1 was later reassembled and used to launch Apollo 5.
The Apollo 4, 5, and 6 missions were unmanned. They occurred between November 1967 and April 1968.
Apollo 4, which launched on November 9, 1967, was the first unmanned test flight of NASA’s Saturn V rocket, which was developed to bring astronauts to the moon.
The mission was the first-ever launch from the Kennedy Space Center. It was a success for NASA, as it proved that Saturn V worked. At the time, the 363-foot-tall vehicle was the largest spacecraft to ever attempt flight.
Apollo 5 launched a few months later, on January 22, 1968. The mission successfully tested the ability of the Apollo Lunar Module — the spacecraft designed to land on the moon’s surface — to ascend and descend.
The Apollo 6 launch followed on April 4, 1968. The mission aimed to show that the Saturn V rocket was capable of trans-lunar injection, which puts a spacecraft on its path to the moon. But the system quickly ran into problems: Two of the five engines shut down unexpectedly, and the spacecraft could not be propelled into orbit.
Despite the issues with Apollo 6, NASA pushed ahead with plans for its first manned launch.
Apollo 7 was the first manned test of the spaceship that was built to orbit the moon. The mission launched on October 11, 1968 and was the first live TV broadcast of Americans in space.
The Apollo 7 crew, comprised of astronauts Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham, achieved the original goal of Apollo 1: testing a manned spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.
Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham spent more than 10 days in space, orbiting Earth 163 times. That was more time in space than all of the previous Soviet missions combined, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum,
To lower the risk of a fire during liftoff, NASA designed the command module’s cabin atmosphere to have 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen. (A higher percentage of oxygen would have increased the risk of fire, and NASA was trying to avoid another fatal fire after the Apollo 1 accident.) The cabin atmosphere gradually adjusted to pure oxygen shortly after liftoff.
On Christmas Eve of 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Jim Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman became the first people to orbit the moon.
The purpose of the Apollo 8 mission was to study and take pictures of the moon’s surface.
In addition to achieving a historic and important space-travel milestone, Apollo 8 also became known for the famous “Earthrise” photo that the astronauts captured.
It was the first time humans saw what our planet looks like from space.
Earthrise has become one of the most reproduced space photos in history, appearing on posters, US postage stamps, and even Time magazine’s cover in 1969.
The Apollo 9 mission stayed in low-Earth orbit and tested all the major components that would be essential for a lunar landing. It featured the first crewed test of the spacecraft designed to land on the moon.
Apollo 9 launched on March 3, 1969, carrying astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott, and Russell Schweickart.
After a successful 10-day mission, the astronauts splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean.
Apollo 10, the first of three manned missions to the moon that took place in 1969, was described as a “dress rehearsal” for the first lunar landing.
Astronauts John Young, Thomas Stafford, and Eugene Cernan launched atop a Saturn V rocket on May 18, 1969. The three men came closer to the lunar surface than any astronaut before them.
Young, Stafford, and Cernan also got farther from Earth than anybody before.
The Apollo 10 mission included a test of a lunar lander that was similar to the one later used for the first moon landing. The lander, named Snoopy, was designed to travel most of the way down to the surface (but not all the way) so the astronauts could test its performance and use it to survey the future landing site.
The astronauts successfully piloted Snoopy to about 50,000 feet above the moon’s surface before returning to the main spaceship.
An estimated 530 million people around the world watched as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Armstrong famously called the historic achievement a “giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin followed him onto the lunar surface, while their crewmate Michael Collins stayed on the main spacecraft in orbit around the moon.
After the three astronauts returned to Earth, they were quarantined for 21 days to make sure they did not bring home any lunar contagions. Armstrong turned 39 during the confinement.
Until the Apollo 11 mission, Russian cosmonauts had been ahead of the US at almost every turn in the Cold War space race. At the time, many Americans did not believe spending $24.5 billion on the Apollo missions was worth it, and some people protested NASA’s eight-year effort to land on the moon.
Armstrong, meanwhile, had a few near-death experiences in the years leading up to the moon landing. In March 1966, he and co-pilot David Scott were almost lost in space during the Gemini 8 mission. This was the first attempt to dock one spacecraft with another while in orbit, an essential step in a moon landing. But soon after takeoff, a thruster malfunctioned, which sent Armstrong and Scott spinning out of control. Luckily, they found a way to regain control of the spacecraft by powering thrusters.
A few months after Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon, NASA sent another spacecraft to the lunar surface in the Apollo 12 mission.
The Apollo 12 mission was neither as historic as its predecessor nor as scary as the near-disaster of Apollo 13.
But Apollo 12 was not without drama. The mission, which launched on November 14, 1969, was almost aborted minutes of takeoff because lightning struck the spacecraft and scrambled the rocket’s instruments. Many of the instruments were disabled completely after a second lightning strike.
At the time, NASA was unsure whether the mission could safely continue. But the mission wound up being successful — astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the lunar surface while Richard Gordon circled the moon.
The Apollo 13 mission blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but something went terribly wrong about 56 hours into the trip to the moon.
After an oxygen tank exploded and damaged the cabin of the spaceship that housed the crew, astronauts Fred Haise, Jack Swigert, and Jim Lovell were in serious danger. The spacecraft lost the ability to generate water and power within three hours of this malfunction, and the astronauts’ oxygen stores were lost, too.
The lunar module that was supposed to be used to land on the moon became the astronauts’ “lifeboat” as they abandoned the main spaceship. But that small spacecraft was only built for two people, so the lithium hydroxide canisters that absorbed gas from the air were used up quickly.
The astronauts were at risk of dying from high levels of carbon dioxide, but managed to re-design the main ship’s gas-absorbing canisters to fit into openings on the lunar module. They then turned around and landed safely in the South Pacific on April 17, 1970. NASA called the mission a “successful failure.”
NASA made another successful lunar landing the following year. Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, and Stuart Roosa launched from the Kennedy Space Center on January 31, 1971.
The spacecraft’s destination was the same as the aborted Apollo 13 mission’s: the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands.
Apollo 14 collected more lunar material and data than originally planned to make up for Apollo 13’s failure to reach the moon.
Astronauts used a wheeled Lunar Roving Vehicle for the first time during the Apollo 15 mission to study the moon’s geology.
NASA astronauts David Scott, James Irwin, and Alfred Worden made up the Apollo 15 crew.
Using a vehicle allowed astronauts to travel farther from the lunar lander than others before them. The samples that the Apollo 15 astronauts brought back included a rock estimated to be 4 billion years old.
Apollo 15, along with the two missions that followed it, featured a television camera on the lunar rover, an updated lunar module that let crews stay on the moon for longer than before, and redesigned backpacks that let astronauts spend more time on the lunar surface.
NASA used the Apollo 16 mission to explore the moon’s highlands for the first time.
Astronauts John Young, Thomas Mattingly, and Charles Duke comprised the crew.
On April 20, 1972, 36-year-old Duke became the youngest human in history to walk on the lunar surface. Duke also made headlines for leaving a photo of him, his two sons, and his wife on the moon.
“I’d always planned to leave it on the moon,” Duke previously told Business Insider. “So when I dropped it, it was just to show the kids that I really did leave it on the moon.”
After more than 20 hours of experiments on the lunar surface, the astronauts collected roughly 210 pounds of samples.
Apollo 17 was the last mission to bring people to the moon.
Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan is still the last man to walk on the lunar surface. Compared to previous missions, this trip collected the most rock and soil samples from the moon.
During the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, astronauts also installed heat-flow experiments to gather data on the moon’s temperature. Earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research analyzed that data and concluded that NASA astronauts likely warmed up the moon’s surface temperature by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the study, walking on the moon and driving rovers around caused dark moon dust called regolith to be exposed. This likely prompted the moon’s surface to heat up, the scientists said, because darker materials absorb more light.
Nearly half a century has passed since the Apollo 17 mission, but NASA says it could return to the lunar surface as early as 2019.
In NASA’s recent announcement — in which the space agency offered up to $2.6 billion in contracts to nine companies — the agency suggested the first missions could fly as soon as 2019 (though as late as 2022).
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also vowed that unlike previous failed efforts by NASA to get back to the lunar surface, this “Commercial Lunar Payload Services” program will succeed.
“Everybody is ready to go back to the moon,” Bridenstine said.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.