Many years and hundreds of hours of work were invested in a small piece of pipe, which was scheduled to continue its journey to the moon after his flight to the United States.
It was not planned that Jürg Meister would become one of the most important people in the solar wind sail project of the University of Bern. After completing his degree, he took up an assistant position in the field of meteorite research. However, that was not 100% his passion. When the professors Johannes Geiss, Peter Eberhardt and Peter Signer had a vacancy in the laboratory, one did not have to ask Meister twice. He immediately agreed to his dream job and was able to put all his energy into the solar wind sail project.
Like firing a shotgun at a tree
The impossible made possible
Transport of the solar wind sail in hand luggage
Jürg Meister himself was allowed to bring "his" solar wind sail to the U.S.A. There were some hurdles to overcome, but in the end, he carried it in his hand luggage. Once on the plane it was immediately taken from him, locked up and handed back only to him when he got off the plane. That was in May 1969. Meister was not able to stay in the U.S. for the launch – but he experienced this back in the coffee breakroom of the research laboratory in Bern. It took another three days for the astronauts to land on the moon. Meister learned via telephone from professor Geiss that the solar sail was set up successful. Geiss was on site and had access to an adjoining room of NASA's control room. "No, I was never afraid that the experiment might go wrong. We had tested everything hundreds of times, nothing could go wrong," says Meister. And so it was. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin successfully put the solar sail into the moon’s surface before the American flag was hoisted. It stayed there for 77 minutes and caught solar wind, which was evaluated after returning in Bern.
50 years of moon landing – 40 years of RUAG
Shortly after the successful solar wind sail experiment, Meister and his wife Susanne moved to the United States for six years where he conducted research at a private university in Houston. Back in Switzerland, he returned to the University of Bern before taking up a new position at what is now RUAG in Thun. For 25 years he devoted himself to the development of hollow charges of armor-piercing ammunition, among other things. Even after his retirement, he remained loyal to RUAG. Today, Jürg Meister can still be found every Tuesday at the RUAG Ammotec ammunition exhibition in Thun. There he guides interested groups through the exhibition by appointment, shows and explains the various types of ammunition used or produced by the Swiss Army. And he is still drawn to the world and space. Thanks to their good health, Susanne and Jürg Meister continue to travel all over the world, including this past spring when they were invited to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C. to attend a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
|Apollo 11 is a space mission within the Apollo program of the U.S. space agency NASA and was the first manned space flight with a moon landing. The three NASA astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins launched onboard a Saturn V rocket from Launch Complex 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 16 July 1969 and reached moon orbit on 19 July. The next day, 20 July, while Collins remained behind in the command module of the Columbia spacecraft, Armstrong and Aldrin took the Eagle lunar lander module down to the lunar surface. A few hours later, Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the moon, followed shortly afterwards by Aldrin. After a nearly 22-hour stay, the Lunar Module took off from the lunar surface and returned to the mother ship. The Apollo 11 mission included the Swiss-engineered solar wind sail experiment developed by the University of Bern, the only non-American experiment in which the solar wind was captured and evaluated back in Bern.|