BROTHERS IN ETERNAL COLD: HOW THE APOLLO ASTRONAUTS SENT TO THE MOON DISCOVERED THE EARTH
On September 12th, 1962 in a speech at Rice University in Houston, President John F. Kennedy pledged the United States would land humans on the moon before the end of the decade. This goal was accomplished with the Apollo program, which sent six manned space crafts to the moon, where twelve men walked the lunar surface. Brothers in Eternal Cold: How the Apollo Astronauts Sent to the Moon Discovered the Earth is the first thesis to explore the Apollo mission transcripts outside of the technical and scientific lens. The transcripts are not only historical documents but also are the only written accounts of humankind's journey to another celestial body. Within these more than 21,000 pages are records of conversations between the Apollo astronauts themselves and with CAPCOM at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. This thesis examines the transcripts from four missions based off their reputations as popular in the public eye and groundbreaking firsts: Apollo 7, 8, 11, and 13. The Apollo astronauts left Earth not only as astronauts but also as American patriots, scientists, and explorers. Before the Apollo program, no human being had known what the Earth looked like as a whole. These men acted as pilgrims in the journey to the moon and looked back at their home planet Earth from thousands of miles away, vibrant and fragile in contrast with the darkness of space. Onboard their space crafts they are unable to verbalize directly what they see and feel having encountered what amounts to, or can be compared to, a religious experience of the sublime. The sublime, as both Immanuel Kant and Rudolf Otto define it, is so great and overwhelming that it is unable to be unfolded or explicated and is characterized by contradiction. However, they returned with firsthand knowledge of the universe's connectedness and Earth's matchlessness. They returned with a newfound ability to speak on their esoteric experience with eloquence. They return with fundamentally new cosmic sense of ontological being. The results obtained reveal that while in spaceflight the Apollo astronauts transformed into poets and mystics with a new cosmic sense of being. This perhaps allows them to understand better the answers to humanity's collective purpose not just as a planetary species but a cosmic species.
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