I love this picture.
It looks like a candle on the altar of science or a giant arrow pointing onwards and upwards.
Like Turner’s Fighting Temeraire, it shows the sun setting on a glorious technological period of time.
This rocket is about to take humans off planet to walk on another world for the last time to date.
Look at the picture. It is over forty years old but looks like it was taken yesterday.
Apollo 17 was launched in 1972 and marked the pinnacle of rocket technology begun in the 1930s by the Nazis. Forty years from bombing London to walking on the Moon. the Saturn V was in part designed by Werner Von Braun himself.
Look at the sheer size of the first and second stages of the Saturn V rocket dwarfing the lunar and command modules. This rocket still holds the record for largest payload put into orbit.
There is another aspect to this picture. Three years after this launch, the first digital camera would be developed. Film cameras at this time are pretty much at their peak.
This picture, as well as looking forward and backwards in time and technology, represents the end of humankind’s first space dream. It speaks of a wasted opportunity for science and exploration. Who can guess at where we as a species would be if the last 40 years had continued as the previous 40 had? Mars possibly? Lunar base probably.
© Andy Bollan 2015