(Buzz Aldrin on the Moon – from Great Images in NASA. Click here for more.)
July 20, 1969, the day Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, is probably one of - if not the – most important dates in human history. Years after all of us who lived through it are gone, the Apollo Moon landings will probably be the main thing that school kids know about the 20th century.
Or they’ll remember the atom bomb, but I’m hoping that it’s to be the former.
When I think about how the Apollo program will be remembered, though, I think of historical analogies, and the exploration and colonization of the Americas by Europeans comes to mind. There was a time when I considered Apollo 11 to be analogous to Colombus’ voyage in 1492, but the way that manned space exploration has stalled in Earth orbit makes me wonder if it will be more of an historical footnote like the voyages of the Vikings to Newfoundland in the tenth century.
There is an editorial called “We Should Reach for the Moon” by Buzz Aldrin in today’s paper. He calls for a return to the Moon, a return to the kind of big space programs that challenge mankind to push past our limitations. There are so many benefits in terms of technology, medicine, science, and probably most important: inspiration.
We need to see things like this again.
(Earthrise – Apollo 8 – from Great Images in NASA. Click here for more.)
This Earthrise was taken in December of 1968 by the crew of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon. The crew were the first people to see the Earth in its entirety.
This is probably my favorite photograph; certainly the most beautiful, the most amazing image I’ve ever seen. The stark contrast between the dead moon and the living Earth hanging in the infinite void of space is something that should humble us all. It should remind us of how fragile this planet is.
We need to see things like this again. We need to see the bigger picture. We need to be reminded that this Earth is all we have. We need to be reminded that we’re all in this together.
When the Apollo astronauts went to the moon, it wasn’t just NASA or America or the West going with them. It was all of humanity. Every citizen of every civilization that ever existed took those first steps with Neil Armstrong. His steps were a new beginning, but they were also the beginnning of the end of the Apollo program.
It’s past time for a new beginning.
We need this.