Monday, July 20, 2009

Man on the Moon

Forty years ago today, man walked on the moon for the first time. Sadly, we humans haven't actually set foot on any other celestial sphere since then but still, it was an amazing feat and is still impressive all these years later. It's just hard to believe it was so long ago.

My mom had the foresight to take this photo of my brothers and I with the headline of the daily newspaper the next morning. My sister has always wished she was in this photo but she was still a bump in my mom's stomach at the time and didn't arrive on this planet until November of that year (1969, for the mathematically challenged).
There was an interesting article on the Internet today entitled "5 Things You Didn't Know about NASA."

One of the items had to do with the physical requirements to be an "astronaut hopeful." Among other things like a SCUBA certification, you need to be between 5 foot 2 inches and 6 foot 3 inches tall, able to tread water continuously for 10 minutes (I shall have to try that in the pool next time, I have a feeling that one is harder than it sounds) and able to swim 3 lengths of a 25 metre pool without stopping and then swim 3 lengths in a flight suit and tennis shoes. (Imagine! Wearing tennis shoes to the moon!?!)

I also learned from this article that the six Apollo missions that landed successfully on the moon were numbers 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. Of course, the most famous mission to not get to the moon was Apollo 13, as any of us who have seen the (great) movie starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard can tell you. A dozen astronauts in total walked on the moon surface -or so they say, conspiracy theorists still claim it was all a hoax.

Personally, I don't believe it was a hoax and my hat goes off to those proud few, and to all the other men and women who made it possible and who have contributed to the space program since those days. I still think of those poor people that died in the Challenger explosion, how excited they must have been as the shuttle lifted off from Earth, how horrifying it was for us on the ground to see the explosion and realize the enormity of what had happened. It's a risky business, to be sure, and not something to be taken lightly.

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who took the famous "Earthrise" photo (left) in 1968 noted later, "here we came all this way to the moon, and yet the most significant thing we're seeing is our own home planet, the Earth."
From that distance, there are no borders, no countries on a map, nothing to divide us. We inhabitants of Earth are one, and shall remain so, in the words of Buzz Lightyear, "to infinity...and beyond!"

1 comment:

Sharon said...

How adorable is that?