Sunday, August 26, 2012
Perhaps the most inspiring story for me during my teenage and college years was that of the American space program, from President Kennedy's historic challenge in May 1961 (when I was 12 years old) - "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth" - to that unforgettable moment in July 1969 (a few days after my 21st birthday) when I stayed up all night so that I could watch on live TV the moment when Neil Armstrong descended the ladder of the lunar module and put man's first footprints on the moon.
Neil Armstrong died yesterday aged 82.
I followed the ups and downs (no pun intended) of the space program through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, and thought that the first manned landing on the moon was probably the most significant event of my lifetime.
Actually I still think that.
NASA's endeavors during those years were responsible in no small part for inspiring me to spend my career working with technology (although I'm no rocket scientist) and my admiration for what the USA achieved in space in that decade was part of the pull I felt to eventually emigrate with my family to America.
It feels very strange to me to talk to my grandchildren now about men walking on the moon as something that happened over 40 years ago, before even their parents were born. What feels really strange is that it didn't lead to more manned exploration of the solar system. Back then, I felt sure that there would be a permanent lunar base by now and that men would have landed on Mars.
Yes kiddies, when I was younger than your father, twelve humans walked on the moon and came back safely. And then it was over. By the way kiddies, there was also a time when people like us could buy a ticket and fly at supersonic speed across the Atlantic. That's over too now.
RIP Neil Armstrong.
Posted by Tillerman at 11:39 AM