Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

Forty years ago today, on July 20, 1969, my family arrived in California after travelling across the country from Maryland via Mississippi. We were scheduled to fly to Hawaii on the 24th.

I remember listening to the radio as we set up our camp site and announcing to my parents that "we did it- they are on the moon." For some reason they were not as excited about it as I was! Having no access to television, I missed the great national experience of watching the first step live on TV. I spent that time curled up in the front seat of our old Buick, trying to hear what was going on through the radio static. Only got to see those grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin a week or so later via TV repeats. Who would've thought it could be- Live TV from the surface of the moon! Less than two years later we were getting clear color TV images from Apollo 15, 16, and 17, but by then no one (but me!) seemed to care anymore.

The next day we were at Disneyland when Armstrong and Aldrin successfully lifted off from the surface of the moon to rejoin Michael Collins in orbit. I was probably more excited about that than about Disneyland. By the time they splashed down, we were in Hawaii, watching the coverage of their arrival via air craft carrier to Pearl Harbor.

We need to do it again. We need to continue with the new national goal established by President bush and get back to the Moon by 2020 - or sooner. I'm excited about the Constellation program, the new successor to Apollo. Let's do it!

Note: There has always been a controversy about Armstrong's first words after stepping on the ladder onto the surface of the Moon: "One small step for (a) man: One giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong has always said that he thought he said, and intended to say, "a man" although the "a" cannot be heard on the recordings. However, the sentence only makes good sense with the "a" so I say leave it in, and just assume he slurred the word in the excitement of the moment.

For informative fun, read about NASA's new Constellation Program to return to the moon, and next generation moon car. Also, check out We Choose the Moon (a space nerd's paradise) for a recreation of the Apolo 11 mission.