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A journey to the moon

The moon and our earth are neighbours in space. The moon is about a quarter of a million miles away. Our earth has only one satellite, but some of the planets have several. The moon moves around the earth while the earth and the eight other planets move around the sun.

Humankind knows much about the moon. To give just one small example, something that weighs 1,000 grams on the earth is only 166grams on the moon.

Newton said many years ago that there is a gravitational pull between any two objects. If a man wants to step on the moon, he has to escape the earth’s gravity. It’s not easy, of course. But where there is a will, there is a way.

People also know how to mark time by the cycle of the moon. There is a full moon once a month. Some people often take walks on the night of the rising moon. They sometimes walk along the beach all night.

They think it is romantic. They want to enjoy life to its fullest.

Miss Brown is one of these people. She hopes that each morning will bring a new adventure. She loves the excitement of life and hates to repeat the same work day after day.

Miss Brown is a secretary and works for NASA. She writes letters, answers the telephone, and meets people. She is a good secretary and uses computers skillfully. She helps her boss to plan his time and to finish his work.

Here is one of the plans:

We leave Washington at 9:00 next Monday and arrive in London at 12:00. We spend three days in London and leave for Pairs at 17:30 next Thursday.

It is seven years since she became a secretary.

Miss Brown is tired of her work and her boss knows that. If nothing goes wrong, she will take a new job when she comes back from Europe.

Now Miss Brown works as a narrator for visitors to the space center. “You may wonder how the moon always appears to have the same face toward the earth as it circles around it. There is an easy answer. Stand in a room, and place a chair in front of you. You are the moon. The chair is the earth. Now, go around the chair, facing it at all times…Want to see a real spaceship? Okay. Go straight through the hall, turn left and cross a playground.”

“You can either walk or take a bus. Oh! Here comes the bus.”

Thousands of Americans are waiting for an exciting moment at Cape Kennedy in Florida. In fact, people all over the world are talking about the journey to the moon these days.

The journalists are busy writing for an exciting moment at Cape Kennedy in Florida. In fact, people all over the world are talking about the journey to the moon these days.

The journalists are busy writing special reports. They usually wear very casual clothes but they are wearing suits today.

“I am wondering if you can tell us more about this flight.”

Even the toughest journalists are being polite.

Journalists are always trying their best to write special stories.

“Thirty seconds and counting,” a voice from the loudspeaker reaches far.

The powerful rocket is standing still against the blue sky.

“Five …Four …Three …Two …One …”

Then, suddenly, all engines are roaring and Apollo 11 is rising gently into the sky. Three men

are moving towards the moon.

They are coming back to the earth eight days later.

Four days later, more than 500 million people are watching on very poor quality television pictures as the spaceship reaches the moon.

Then, a foot moves into the picture.

“That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

People all over the world are jumping and cheering . Before log, thousands of engineers and scientists in other countries are joining the research groups for space exploration.

In the past, people were not clear about how a human being could live and work outside the earth. In fact, they had little knowledge about space. Before the first man went into the space, some scientists believed that the astronauts might be very confused by silence and loneliness.

The scientists would try to imagine how the astronauts would survive, for there used to be a theory that the heart might be weakened by having too little work to do in space and so be unable to stand the strain of coming back to the earth. Because of these fears, some people used to give up the attempt to travel in space.

However, what happened later changed their minds. A dog was sent into space with a satellite. The little dog seemed a bit uneasy at first, but she soon got used to living in space.

That suggested that astronauts could also be used to living and working in space, if they have a careful training. Actually, some scientific instruments were used to get the necessary data for the training.

The training for landing on the moon was not easy. It could also be dangerous.

One day, three American astronauts were training themselves when fire suddenly broke out inside a spaceship on the ground.

While the astronauts were trying to open the hatch from the inside, the engineers were trying to open the hatch from the outside. The three astronauts soon died.

However, a new era was coming no matter what had happened.

In the year that followed, the engineers were working hard to redesign the spaceship.

They were always trying their best to make each part a perfect one.

What the Apollo people remembered most was not the three astronauts’ deaths but something one of them had said: “If we die, we want people to accept it. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.”

Before Apollo 11 visited the moon, Americans had sent ten other spaceships into space. Humans had been to space many times before Apollo 10 returned to the earth.

By the end of July, 1969, the American government had paid over $5 billion on the space program. Humankind hadn ’t had any other greater project than Project Apollo.

Landing on the moon requires a lot of time and effort. Scientists had done their research for years before they got what they needed. Engineers had worked hard since they began the first spaceship.

They read the first book on space travel by a Russian high school teacher, studied the rockets made by the German scientists during World War , talked with hundreds of plane pilots and made five sets of plans for the moon landing.

They had intended to send a spaceship weighing 150,000 pounds directly to the moon. But that meant that humans would land on the moon many years later.

Americans were not going to spend much more money and wait for years to build a giant

rocket. They were also going to send five parts of a spaceship into space with five smaller rockets.

Engineers on the ground were to have the five separate part “meet ” in space.

But there would be serious problems if the five parts failed to come together at the same time. At last, NASA decided to adopt a plan suggested by an engineer named Houbolt. According to this plan, Apollo would go into orbit around the moon. A small spaceship named Eagle would separate from Apollo and land on the moon.

Apollo11 was leaving for the moon soon.

An exciting day was about to come.

“Forward, forward …good! Forty feet. Drift to the right a little. Okay. Engines stop. The Eagle has landed! ”

A visit to the moon has been a dream of human beings for thousands of years.

The world has listened to the news reports about Apollo 11 for several months. For Americans, they have waited for the great day since 1961.

It was in that year that President Kennedy announced a national goal in his speech to the American people: “By the end of 1960s, the United States of America is to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth.”

It is eight years since President Kennedy was killed.

In the past eight years, people haven ’t got any satisfactory explanation about his death,... ..., though they have asked from time to time.

They have been keen for the explanation but in vain.

However, they never forget the youngest president in American history. Today, a million people have made their camps around the launching site called Cape Kennedy.

It is the first time that a human being has ever set foot on another object in space. It is also the most exciting TV program people have ever watched .

Americans have sent three Apollo spaceships to explore the moon this year.

Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 have been to the moon orbit to get the necessary data. Now Apollo 11 has gone to the moon.

The astronauts have prepared for the journey for seven years. During the past few months, they have also practised landing on the moon.

Following the voyage of Apollo 9, engineers decided that one more test flight was needed. They wanted to test the landing module near the moon. Three astronauts did so during the flight of Apollo 10.

It is certain that people will visit other planets when they have mastered more advanced technologies.

In the control room at Houston, hundreds of men have been watching their instruments since Apollo 11 took off.

Now Apollo11 is returning to the earth. Suddenly the astronauts’ radio is out of touch with the ground. Fortunately, Armstrong breaks the dead silence with a calm voice a few minutes late.

“Everything is Okay now. We have been trying to contact you. We are still badly shaken,” Armstrong says.

Since the astronauts have gained control of the spaceship again, there is nothing for the men on the ground to worry about.

Apollo 11 is coming home. It falls more and more slowly until it softly touches the blue wave.

“We have been looking forward to your return from the moon.” President Nixon greets the three astronauts with a smile. “You look great! You feel as good as you look?”

Time: April 11, 1970

Place: Cape Kennedy in Florida

“We ’ll go for launch.”

The loudspeaker is keeping the thousands of onlookers counting toward the launch. “Two minutes and counting.”

Apollo 13 is about to take off.

Fewer people are watching the tale-off on television. Astronauts have made moon flight seem routine. “They are coming back in a few days.”

“We are going to collect more rocks to study where the moon is from,” scientists say.

Apollo 13 has been sailing smoothly through space for two days when the astronauts hear a loud bang outside the spaceship.

There is going to be a disaster.

“Houston, we have a problem here. One oxygen tank is empty and the other is losing pressure. We wil l go to the lunar module.”

The commander, Lovell, gives his first order to the other two astronauts: “You are to leave here at once.”

Down on earth telephones are ringing all over America. The officers in the control room have to decide what to do next.

“Odyssey, this is Houston. I am to inform you that your landing on the moon has been cancelled. Your new task is to go back home.”

Apollo 13 is now 320,000 kilometers from the earth with little oxygen, electricity or water. The engineers on the earth are to work out a way to help the astronauts to connect the air-cleaning devices of the command module to that of the lunar module.

“Odyssey, you can make the connector from plastic bags, cardboards and tapes. Such things are to be found in your space suits.”

Believe it or not, the homemade connector works perfectly!

“Houston, we are to contact again when we have finished the other half of the orbit around the moon. ” The lunar module is not comfortable at all and the astronauts come to get excited easily.

“The health belt is not to be removed from the body!” the doctors on the earth warn when they can get on information about their health. But the astronauts won’t listen. If things continue as they are going, anything could happen.

Now Apollo 13 is entering the atmosphere and it is out of contact with the control room.

“God, am I never to see him again?” the astronauts’ wives, family and friends turn their eyes to the sky.

““Odyssey. This is Houston. Can you hear me? ” the control center repeatedly attempts to contact the spaceship.

No answer. No answer. Still no answer.

If the silence goes on for another five minutes, NASA wil l have to assume they are dead. “Houston. This is Odyssey,” a faint voice suddenly greets people’s ears. “It ’s so good to come back home!”

The flight of Apollo 13 is a failure, but humans will not rest for a while until they have

collected more information from the moon.

NASA has made a new timetable for the space travel.

Apollo 14 takes off in January, 1971.

Apollo 15 takes off in July, 1971.

Apollo 16 takes off in April, 1972.

A new spaceship will be visiting Mars in 2003.

People believe that humankind will have visited more planets by the end of the 21st century. “A small step for a man” is a statement of fact; “a giant leap for mankind” is a hop for the future.