Today, 47 years ago at 417pm the age old desire to conquer the moon was achieved:
July 16, 1969.
The journey begins 4 days prior as the camera zooms into the mighty Saturn V rocket on the launchpad NASA commentator, Jack King informs the public, those present and watching, of goings on in the vehicle, with the astronauts, all the while working in the countdown to liftoff. “T-minus 15 seconds guidance is internal,” reports Jack his voice growing in excitement as liftoff nears, myself as well as the entire world attentive. He continues, “12, 11, 10, 9 ignition sequence starts, 5,4,3,2, 1 liftoff we have a liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift off on Apollo 11.” Moments later he adds, “ Tower cleared.” The five main F-1 engines build up 7.5 million pounds of thrust in a fiery blaze as wild life scurries and the ground rumbles. Wide-eyed and super-glued to the television watching the feed from high gain cameras on the ground and in the air (not even nail polish could tear me away) as the first stage engines cut off, separates, then the five J-2 engines of the second stage ignite pushing the mission into space. Finally, the one J-2 engine on the third stage of the rocket comes to life sending three astronauts, myself, and the world on the greatest journey, next stop the surface of the moon.
July 20, 1969
Over the next four days I watch any news coverage, “We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for this special report,” the announcer proclaims then images live from deep space inside the spacecraft showing the audience around the cabin, out the window of the shrinking blue earth, and how stuff floats in zero gravity, I watch intently. From the moment my 11-year-old eyes opened on 7-20-1969, they would not close again for almost 24 hours as this day will forever be etched on history’s timeline. Early this day preparations for the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module), Eagle, with Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin on-board to separate from the Apollo spacecraft, Columbia, and Mike Collins got underway I hungered for information flipping between NBC, ABC, and CBS even though each reported the same. Throughout the day Jules Bergman, Walter Cronkite, Frank Reynolds show animation and broadcast voice transmission between the three and Mission Control in Houston, Texas “Eagle you are go for landing” then “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed,” Neil Armstrong announces the successful moon landing upping the excitement ante. Now the wait for Armstrong and Aldrin to suit up and step out into the history books “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” came the narration as nearly 10 years of preparation and tragedy came to fruition as Armstrong took the first steps on an alien environment. The world and I watched as his and Aldrin’s ghost-like images bounce across many a black and white television set for two and one half hours.
Yes, we did land on the moon there were no strings no scripts no Hollywood lighting effects just pure effort, knowledge, intelligence, and a can-do spirit there was a sense of hope, discovery, new beginnings, excitement as where to go next then we just stopped. All the money, time, testing, training, and loss life went by the wayside. Behind grandstands overflowing with spectators watching Apollo 11’s liftoff waved flags of many nations united under the goal that we were boldly going were no man, woman, or child had gone before. Sadly, today nations are concerned with building walls instead of tearing them down, seizing power by force, senseless killing. Where would we be today if kept just pushing deeper into space, I wonder.