Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That's One Small Step For Man ...

When important events occur in life we sometimes relate "Hearing the News" to where we were when the event happened. I have always been an avid space enthusiast, so when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon I can tell you exactly where I was.

On July 20th, 1969, this 11 year old was parked in front of our family's color TV taking in every word as news anchor Walter Cronkite described the scene.

When the announcement was made that: "The Eagle Has Landed" I was excited and thankful that the lunar module landed intact.

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface and uttered the historical quote: "Tha's One Small Step For Man ... One Giant Leap For Mankind", my eyes filled with tears and huge lump grew in my throat.

When both astronauts planted the American flag in the ground on another world and saulted it, I could not have been more proud of my country (AND STILL AM).

Before my eyes, I was watching two heroes discover a new frontier, one that was exterrestrial.

These astronauts accomplished this impossible feat with less computing power that we have in our $10 Walmart watch, without the Internet and cellphones, without flush toilets with no way to come home if something went wrong and for no more money than the military pays.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be an astronaut. I even applied for the Shuttle program in 1981, but was turned down because they were only accepting jet pilots at the time.

I never did realize that dream, but you never know what may happen in the future. NASA and other space agencies are planning to put permanent bases on the Moon in the next decade to prepare for the jump to Mars.

I will pass on going to Mars, because the trip may take 2-3 years to complete, and that is way too long for this Earth boy to be away from his home planet. I wonder who will be the household name that first sets foot on the 'Red Planet"

Congratulations to the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong for being brave enough to face possible death endure cramped quarters and survive arduous training to be the first humans to set foot on a world that is not ours.

As a backyard astronomer, I look upon the Moon, planets and the heavens from the confines of Earth, but you looked upon the Earth and the heavens from the surface of an alien world.

I salute you!


P.S. - Here are a couple of links to follow:

First is a NASA link that shows the Apollo landing sites 40 years later.


Second is an excellent pictoral story of Apollo 11 from the Boston Globe (not bad for a bunch of libs...)