In case you missed it, last month marked the 50th anniversary of NASA’s first successful lunar landing. On July 20th of 1969, Apollo 11 made history with those famous words, “one giant leap for mankind”. NASA is conducting an ongoing celebration of the Apollo Missions which launched important landmarks in our shared human history of reaching for the stars. Space exploration continues to be one of the largest internationally collaborative efforts in modern science, but it wasn’t always a united front.
Buzz Aldrin has our galaxy’s most recognizable boot print. Accompanied by crew members Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, their small step left a defining mark in the Space Race. As most space case enthusiasts will tell you, Apollo 11 may have put the first astronauts on the moon. However, it was the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to venture into outer space; achieving a successful orbit around the Earth on April 1, 1961. Russia had already set the bar on early space exploration with their first orbital satellite, Sputnik. It was that historic moment which spurred The United States to gain a competitive edge, resulting in the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. CBS NEWS released a commemorative documentary for NASA’s 40th Anniversary entitled, “Man On The Moon”. Narrated by legendary news anchorman, Walter Cronkite, this gives viewers the inside scoop from ignition to the long journey home.
Apollo 11 is easily one of the most famous ventures into space, and yet, one of the most controversial. To this day there are people who question if NASA’s crew even landed on the moon. This mission could only be possible, because of the efforts and sacrifices of prior missions. The most harrowing of these missions being Apollo 1. The crew of this mission would sadly never see liftoff from the launch pad. Rookie astronaut Roger Chaffee and veteran crewmates Virgil Grissom and Ed White were eager for their chance to be the first to be the first mission of the new launch system which would later be the first to complete a successful lunar landing. However, during a preflight test, disaster struck. A fire ignited in the cockpit, combined with the 100% oxygen environment inside the capsule, and engulfed the crew in seconds. It took flight deck operators almost five minutes to open the capsule, which by then had been far too late. “From The Earth To The Moon” is a series which faithfully documents defining moments that emphasize the importance of NASA’s work, and why the efforts of their men and women are something worthy of remembrance. Tom Stafford, Ed White’s former crewmate from the Gemini missions, is pictured below during his 2017 commemorative speech dedicated to the three fallen heroes whose sacrifice allowed for advancements in safety precautions which made later successes possible.
President John F. Kennedy’s words could not have been truer. Doing the difficult things are truly worth doing. Thanks to the unwavering dedication of all those involved in every stage of development and execution, we have tremendous successes on which to reflect. Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11”, features some of the most beautiful footage to ever be captured of The Space Race. The historic 65mm film reels from The National Archives have been digitized in 8K resolution to create stunning imagery of the Apollo 11 mission. Unrivaled by Hollywood’s fictitious imitations, this is the source material of the true events as they unfold. The landing crew even describes the surface of the moon, saying that through their gloves the dust felt like a clumpy sand; as if wet to the touch.
There are plenty of current sources to investigate in staying updated on the latest topics in NASA’s ongoing Apollo Anniversary. If you’re looking for a more contemporary perspective on space exploration, there’s no better source than Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Startalk”. The notable astrophysicist explores topics ranging from famous folks to time travel. He even interviews Buzz Aldrin, who’s completed more missions into space than any other astronaut. In this episode they discuss the possibility of what the world would be like if we never landed on the moon. They even reveal the haunting words of a public address which thankfully never had to be broadcast. These were the words provided to President Richard Nixon in the event if those who first reached the moon could not return home.
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations.
In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.