Monday, July 20, 2009

We Went To The Moon!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface.

There are of course a few crack pots out there who believe it was all a hoax. There are even those who are convinced it was all filmed in Area 51, directed by Stanley Kubrick who was fresh off his classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some have also claimed that famed science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke wrote the script.

That's all nonsense as far as this reporter is concerned. For one thing NASA's LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) took pictures in 2009 showing several of the Apollo landing sites before it reached its mapping orbit. There are plenty of other compelling reasons to believe it happened, so I won't waste any more time in unnecessary debunking.

This anniversary marks one of the more impressive achievements in the history of man. The lunar lander had less computing power than my graphing calculator and actually, the Eagle almost never landed at all. Moments before they were supposed to touch down, Neil Armstrong noticed they were in a boulder field instead of the flat ground they were expecting.

He deftly steered the craft out of harm's way with just seconds of fuel to spare and saved the entire mission and quite possibly the lives of he and "Buzz" Aldrin.

It's just one of the many amazing things that had to go right for the guys that had "the right stuff" to become modern day American heroes.

So while NASA can certainly mess some things up on occasion nowadays, and there have been some pretty epic failures, the 1960s and early 1970s were a time when they were challenged everyday, and each time they rose to the task giving us something to be extremely proud of.

As President Kennedy said when proposing the idea:

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 the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

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