Ok, so out of all the amazing things that NASA has done, the one huge thing that they are most know for is, of course… the Moon landings.
Starting in 1961 with President Kennedy's bold speech, NASA began its seemingly insurmountable task of sending humans to the Moon and to bring them back home safely.
Now… We have the benefit of hindsight to know how well the program turned out, but when President Kennedy made his famous speech only one American had been in space. That's right; just one… and that was only for 15 minutes.
So that meant that we couldn't just go to the Moon the next day. Years of really hard work and testing had to be accomplished to get us to our goal. We had to learn how the human body would react in space, how to build spacecraft and maneuver in space and on and on.
So the first steps to getting to the Moon included completing the remaining five one-man Mercury flights, then the 10 two-man Gemini flights before we could even begin to think about the Apollo Missions.
But less than nine years after Kennedy's famous call to action, with the help of nearly 400,000 hard working people, humans finally set foot on another celestial body on July 20, 1969. There is no way to accurately describe how inspirational this even was in human history. But to get an idea just look at the faces of people who witnessed it.
In all, 12 humans walked on the Moon some 238,000 miles away, while a world of three-and-a-half billion very inspired people watched them back home on Earth.
Even though the Moon landings ranks as one of the most inspiring things to ever happen in human history, many of the Men on the business end of the Apollo missions, the astronauts, had a hard time articulating the event after they returned. When they got back here on Earth one of the most frequent questions they faced was "How did it feel to walk on the Moon?"
Now… you have to understand that these guys were trained engineers, pilots and scientists. They didn't work in "touchy-feely emotions," they worked in raw hard data. You know they had the "Just the facts, Ma'am" mentality.
But there is one astronaut that has found a way to help us understand what it felt like to be on the Moon... and he is doing that through his art.
A veteran of the Apollo program, Skylab and the early stages of that Shuttle program, Astronaut Alan Bean logged over 1,671 hours in space with about eight hours of that time spent walking on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Bean retired from NASA in 1981 to devote himself to painting full time.
According to him "he was fortunate enough to visit worlds and see sights no artist's eye, past or present, had ever viewed firsthand, and he hoped to express these experiences through the medium of art."
I had the opportunity to visit with Alan and talk about his inspiration…
› Download Vodcast (86 MB)