50 Years Ago Today

It really was 50 years ago today that this happened.

That Saturn V rocket, the most powerful vehicle ever built by man, launched three Americans, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins into history.

Nobody who watched a few days later will ever forget the words. After a period of silence, “Houston, Tranquillity Base here, the Eagle has landed.” And I’ll bet I’m far from the only human who still remembers those words verbatim. When the Eagle was descending to the Lunar surface, it was almost like the world stopped, to stare and wonder. And that too was the glory of the American space program, it was there, right there, on live television, for the whole world to watch.

We had done it, we had won another race, the first men to step on another world were Americans, and that flag would wave more or less forever in the solar wind. We had done what President Kennedy challenged us to do:

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. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations – explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon – if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

— Kennedy’s speech to the Congress
And soon they would be safely home, to be honored, and remembered for their accomplishment.
And yes, we lost some good people on the way, like the crew of Apollo 1, Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee burned to death in a command module fire, who should also be honored.
Seemingly a different time, when we were divided by many things politically, and yet we were all proud to be Americans. May those days return.
And yet for all that, it is still true that while many countries have the moon on their flags, only one has its flag on the moon.

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25 Responses to 50 Years Ago Today

  1. Nicholas says:

    A great achievement and a fascinating series of events. A few years ago I saw the series produced by Tom Hanks on this topic and it was eye-opening. May it never be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scoop says:

    I am convinced, though it turned out to be a great achievement for all of humanity, that its true purpose was a bit less than altruistic than portrayed. I, like almost everyone else was elated at the heroism and the achievement in such a short period of time, but as I look back it seems more probable that it was another “star wars” attempt in winning the cold war with the USSR. That was perhaps the turning point in the cold war which made Reagan’s “star wars” the great success that it was to ruining the ambitions of the USSR to continue their economic demise while trying to keep up.They started with a huge advantage; having put the first satellite in orbit but in time we surpassed and even eclipsed them to such an extent that their economy turned into shambles trying to keep pace. Maybe I’m wrong, but that is how I see it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      I’m not sure that that was an objective, but it was a way station to accomplishing that. I suspect that you, like me, remember that Gorbachev put their entire ICBM fleet in the offer to stop SDI at Reykjavik.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scoop says:

        I do indeed.

        It seems they opened a can of worms with sputnik. They created the ‘space race’ as part of the cold war and the free world was taken by surprise. We countered with some failures mockingly referred to as “kaputnik” and “flopnik” by the press. So we were not off to a good start. Then the race escalated in putting men into orbit and then to a man on the moon and finally into weaponizing space. Those higher motivations (primarily military in nature) were the ones that brought the USSR to their knees. I doubt that our Vanguard program was any less (military) in nature than the rest of the government programs which created the magnificent abilities of NASA.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. the unit says:

    “May those days return.” Yeah, we need an event.
    I.e., like a trip on Space X with all the progressives from wherever they come from on board to replace the American flag planted on Mars with Mexico’s or any other flag they like. (Sorta need Shelia Jackson Lee there too, to lead where on Mars it is located. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Trinity, 74 Years On | nebraskaenergyobserver

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