From Chapter 2: "For some months past, my brave colleagues," continued Barbicane, "I have been asking myself whether, while confining ourselves to our own particular objects, we could not enter upon some grand experiment worthy of the nineteenth century; and whether the progress of artillery science would not enable us to carry it out to a successful issue. I have been considering, working, calculating; and the result of my studies is the conviction that we are safe to succeed in an enterprise which to any other country would appear wholly impracticable. This project, the result of long elaboration, is the object of my present communication. It is worthy of yourselves, worthy of the antecedents of the Gun Club; and it cannot fail to make some noise in the world."
From Chapter 25: All being ready at last, it remained to place the projectile in the Columbiad, an operation abundantly accompanied by dangers and difficulties.
From Chapter 26: Instantly Murchison pressed with his finger the key of the electric battery, restored the current of the fluid, and discharged the spark into the breech of the Columbiad.
From Chapter 27: At the moment when that pyramid of fire rose to a prodigious height into the air, the glare of flame lit up the whole of Florida; and for a moment day superseded night over a considerable extent of the country. This immense canopy of fire was perceived at a distance of one hundred miles out at sea, and more than one ship's captain entered in his log the appearance of this gigantic meteor.
The 1969 Apollo program bears some striking similarities to Verne's story:
1. Verne's cannon was called Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module (Apollo CSM) was named Columbia.
2. The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in each case.
3. The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.
4. Verne's voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (Verne correctly states in the book that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched towards the zenith of a particular location, and that the zenith would better line up with the moon's orbit from near the Earth's equator. In the book Florida and Texas compete for the launch, with Florida winning.)
5. The names of the crew, Ardan, Barbicane, and Nicholl, are vaguely similar to Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell, the crew of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to travel to the moon, although it didn't actually land.
6. The cost of the program in the book is very similar to the total cost of the Apollo program until Apollo 8.
During their return journey from the moon, the crew of Apollo 11 made reference to Jules Verne's book during a TV broadcast on July 23. The mission's commander, astronaut Neil Armstrong, said, "A hundred years ago, Jules Verne wrote a book about a voyage to the Moon. His spaceship, Columbia [sic], took off from Florida and landed in the Pacific Ocean after completing a trip to the Moon. It seems appropriate to us to share with you some of the reflections of the crew as the modern-day Columbia completes its rendezvous with the planet Earth and the same Pacific Ocean tomorrow."
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