And before that? Those of us of a certain age can probably remember both ends of the launch cycle very well. When we were kids, before these things became routine, they were broadcast live on the major television networks (nowadays, only on CNN and the like). In fact, teachers would wheel a portable television into classrooms so that students could watch history being made. Again, the blastoff was probably the main attraction.
And the landings? From the Mercury through the Apollo program, they took place on water, giving rise to the term, "splashdown." For a variety of complicated, partly contingent reasons, the USSR always opted for recovery of its space vehicles on land, whereas the US chose water landings.
So here are some philatelic artifacts of the Apollo program.
The splashdown of Apollo 11, like other Apollo landings, took place in the Pacific Ocean, most near American Samoa. This stamp from Western Samoa commemorates the moon landings. (The depiction of the space suit is not accurate.) [kickstarter project to restore and display Neil Armstrong's space suit]
Another Western Samoa stamp with the same image but a higher denomination is used on this commemorative cover marking the safe return of Apollo 16, the second-to-last manned moon mission.
For those of you not around at the time, here's what these splashdowns looked like:
- (a) either something someone of a certain age knows and fondly recalls, or
- (b) something one picked up while exploring retro culture, or
- (c) something one does not know but really should.