It will be interesting to see how much coverage there is today of the 44th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I was not alive during the July 20, 1969 landing and I will be honest to admit that as a child of the Space Shuttle Age, the Apollo missions even seemed archaic to me. I mean, the Apollo missions didn’t spawn off the fancy capris sun juice boxes.
But overtime, my understanding of this event has increased and so has my appreciation of the accomplishment. Now I understand why my science teachers in Middle School were so excited about their “Rocket Club” where we launched model rockets into the sky. They were products of this 1969 event. For those who watched the landing occur, it proved to be a life-changing event. An event where the world, especially Americans, saw evidence that truly anything was possible.
I think Lloyd Christmas’ reaction above expresses the excitement of the event (in 1992) and represents the lack of understanding of this incredible event even today.
Here is historical footage of the actual event.
Artifacts of this event have been brought back to light. Here is a story of the recent discovery of an engine from the Apollo 11 launch under 14,000 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean. The engine powered the Saturn V rocket which carried Apollo 11 into space. The specs of this piece of equipment are absolutely incredible:
“Each of the engines weighs nearly 9 tons, and they came in a cluster of five. They provided 32 million horsepower by burning 6,000 pounds of fuel every second, and together, they lifted the largest rocket in history 38 miles above the Earth in less than three minutes.”
I would be amazed if this was built today much less 44 years ago. No wonder the impact on that generation was so pronounced. Astronauts like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were real heroes as they made the impossible, possible. It is no wonder that the generation watching this event were inspired to think big and do great things.
So where are those events today? Is it landing rovers on Mars? What events infuse our current generation with the hope and drive to do big things?Is it glasses that hold mini-computers? It is not this historic event, I know that. The grainy footage above appears as old to current generations as as the black and white photographs of World World War II. Today Neil Armstrong is almost a name in history comparable to Magellan or Columbus where students yawn at their accomplishments. “Buzz” is more known as Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies. But the fact is moon walks only lasted 3 years! Eugene Cernan was the last person to walk on the moon in 1972. The fact we have not gone back is another reason to marvel at what occurred 44 years ago today. Indeed, there are many reasons humans have not ventured back to the moon but that will be changing in the next 10 to 15 years. What will the reaction be to humans landing on the moon again? Will the event capture the imagination of the world? Will it matter if it is not Americans who go back to the moon?
But back to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. What they did today, 44 years ago and the impact they had on the world is nothing short of spectacular. The celebration they were given down Broadway (shown below) gives an idea of their perceived accomplishment. A colleague of mine told me while he traveled through eastern Europe, crowds of people were glued to a store front in a small town and watched the event unfold on a small black and white tv. These men were seen as global heroes.
They should be remembered today and in a small tribute my kids and I will build a rocket and launch it like I did in Middle School. But I wonder how their landing site will be remembered on the moon. Will it matter 50 years from now, 100 years from now? Will there be a space plaque up there commemorating the site for future space tourists to visit?
HistoricaLese was linked to this interesting blog which has a great post with more info on the historic Moon Landing…