In 1969, the United States accomplished what is widely regarded to be one of mankind’s greatest and most audacious goals: that of landing humans on the Moon and bringing them back again safely. Much has been written on this topic and it remains something that fascinates our collective interest. The Apollo Program has often been seen as helping to galvanise a fledgling environmental movement thanks to the photos of the Earth taken on the missions – especially the Earthrise and Whole Earth images from Apollos 8 and 17 – but never is it discussed what the impact was of the craft that allowed them to be taken. What was the cost that allowed these pictures to be taken?
The significance of my work is in filling this gap by conducting a cost/benefit analysis of the Saturn family of craft from an environmental perspective; to tell an environmental history of the ship that took humans to another celestial body. This analysis will be broken down into 5 key areas – design, build, test, the missions themselves, and the afterlife of the craft (including its legacy) – as an attempt to redress this balance. What were the environmental impacts of the machines that took men to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s? And what were the perspectives of this at the time?
The other element of my work will look at what lessons can be learnt from the Apollo vehicles to allow future space missions to be more environmentally conscious and friendly to the planet from which they depart. It is hard to envisage a future at the moment which does not include some form of space travel and exploration. Hopefully this won’t eventually manifest itself in a planetary evacuation. To help avoid this, part of my work aims to review the Saturns IB and V to see what we can deduce to make our next forays into space something which does not overly contribute to the destruction of Earth.
Alongside my research above, I retain an interest in environmental history more broadly and 20th century history in general, as well as British espionage and subterfuge in the Second World War, the history of British media in the 20th century (especially radio, given my background in the industry), and the history of advertising, marketing, and branding.
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