Although I wasn’t around yet to see the Apollo launches, astronomy and space exploration were a defining part of my childhood. I saved up for my first telescope when I was 7 years old, built countless model rockets out of parts from the recycling bin, and one summer my parents were awesome enough to even send me to Space Camp. So when Apollo 13 came out when I was 9 years old, I can’t count the number of times I re-watched it on VHS. The spectacle of that launch and mission stuck with me to the extent that I feel as if I were a part of the space race generation. Movies have that power — to implant a sense of nostalgia for something we couldn’t experience first-hand.
This TED talk by visual effects supervisor Rob Legato explores that nostalgia as he talks about re-creating the Saturn 5 launch by focusing on the aspects of the launch that were part of our collective memories. Instead of focusing on archival footage and matching the launch shot-for-shot, he instead tried to re-create that generation’s memory of the launch. As he explains, it’s actually an important distinction.
Of course, I can’t post about space exploration without acknowledging the passing of one of the greatest men of the past century. Neil, we are in debt to your contributions. His footprints inspired the imaginations of generations and serve as a reminder of mankind’s ability to accomplish the impossible; his small step was the first in an ongoing journey to explore new worlds.