Today is the 49th anniversary of the first moon landing. Not the golden 50th anniversary, but close. I remember watching on our black and white TV. Hearing those amazing words. “Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed”. Followed some hours later (I recall it being in the middle of the night) by Neil Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
I was amongst many caught up by the exploration of space, from the early days, where a Boulder native, Scott Carpenter, was one of the original seven astronauts in the Mercury program, and the second to achieve earth orbit. As a school aged child, this was exciting stuff. I already had a bent for science, and following the programs from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo and the moon landings was a big deal. My fascination with space and exploration continued on into the space shuttle era. I was thrilled when Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983, and I cried with many others when the Challenger exploded in 1986.
As a child, I was oblivious to the politics of all this, and while familiar with the term “space race”, I was largely unaware of the competition with the Russians for “dominance”. I was much more aware of the sense of teamwork, of camaraderie, of doing something for growth, for science, the challenge of exploration. To me, it seemed there was a more unified sense of purpose, coming from a place of growth, even as I now understand more of the political overlay.
While a part of me is saddened about the ending of manned space travel, another part of me recognizes that so much more is being done with space exploration. A spacecraft has left the solar system. The data from telescopes such as Hubble and other devices is astonishing. Lets keep the wonder and the learning for the sake of learning and keep the politics and war games out of it. Much healthier for us all.
Time for another great leap for mankind.
Written in response to today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt of Gold, and in honor of all the science geeks everywhere.