Photo: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. "Apollo 11" by US Department of State is licensed under CC PDM 1.0
July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which put three men on the moon and returned them safely home. I’ve known these simple facts for most of my life and frankly didn’t think much of it. I am not a science person; I appreciate what science can do and has done, but I’ve not pursued its study beyond what was required in school.
Despite that, I haven’t been one of those people who wonders why we spend billions of dollars on research and rockets that are only used once for seemingly no other purpose. I am well aware that what we learn while doing the research to get those rockets into the sky changes the daily lives of humans.
But it was a dispassionate appreciation for the science in general and the moon landing in specific. We went to the moon! That’s cool, but meh.
Well, if you watch any footage of the moon landing as compiled in several videos NASA assembled to celebrate the 50th anniversary, you might get a bit more excited. I sure did. If you see Walter Cronkite, venerated journalist (people used to do that, venerate journalists) get giddy when Apollo 11 touches down, you might, like me, get teary-eyed.
Then, when you learn about the kind of technology available to these men compared with what we have today, you might be dumbstruck. According to Space.com, “the computing technology of the average cell phone far exceeds the combined computing power of the two spacecraft that got humans to the moon and home safely.” WHAAATTT??
I challenge you to not shed a tear of patriotism when you hear President Kennedy call us to do something bold, and then watch footage of that rocket with “USA” on the side and not swell with pride.
It was a big deal people. It should remind us all of what we are capable of as Americans, if we determine to work together for a common goal.
Overview video: https://www.space.com/26630-apollo-11-vintage-tech-innovations.html?jwsource=cl
Page on Apollo 11 Mission History: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo-11.html
Various events around the nation celebrating the 50th anniversary: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-celebrates-50th-anniversary-of-historic-moon-landing-with-live-tv-broadcast