We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President of the United States of America
40 years ago, on this very day, this very hour, this very minute Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Lunar Lander “Eagle” and began his decent onto the surface of our closest neighbour in space, the Moon. Today the world remembers what an amazing achievement that this was, and how the whole world watched in awe as we saw for the very first time the human race had landed on another celestial body. Truly it was something that no one who saw it would ever forget.
For me the greatness of the achievements of Apollo are embodied in the two things that prefaced this post. The first is a picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong. A simple picture showing an astronaut against the magnificent desolation that is the surface of the moon. It’s always the first picture I think of when I’m talking about the Apollo missions, summing up their essence with such simplicity. The second is a quote that I’m sure everyone around the world is familiar with. John F. Kennedy was an exceptional man and his speech served to inspire his nation and drive them towards a goal that no nation has matched to this day.
As a man who was not even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes at the time of this event I can only imagine what the event must have been like. I’ve watched hours upon hours of footage of the moon landings with a tearful eye but I know nothing can compare to what everyone must have experienced on that day. My only hope is that this blog and my endeavours outside it will lead humanity to achieve such greatness again.
Today I pay tribute to all of those who made Apollo possible. From the ground crew to the politicians to great people such as Walter Cronkite who helped bring the missions home to everyone around the world. I would also like to leave you with an assortment of other tributes to the achievements of the Apollo program, something to keep you busy during this day of celebration.
- The Big Picture remembers Apollo 11.
- Restored video from the Apollo missions courtesy of NASA.
- LRO images the Apollo landing sites.
- A list of events that NASA is planning for the anniversary
- Apollo astronauts reflect on their achievements
Happy 40th Apollo. In 10 years time I hope we’ll be celebrating your 50th in true style, back on Luna.