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Monday, July 20, 2009

"That's one small step for a man..."

"...one giant leap for mankind."

(And before anybody gives me grief over it, in the past few years audio analysis has determined that Armstrong did indeed say "step for a man" :-)

Forty years ago today, on July 20th, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, with the assistance of a few hundred thousand of their good friends back on Earth, fulfilled an ages-old dream when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Armstrong was the first man to stretch his legs on the lunar surface, while Aldrin has the distinction of being the first person to "drain the main vein" on another world.

I didn't know until this past year that before they began their "extra-vehicular activity" (in layman's terms: they went outside the spaceship), that Aldrin also took communion on the Moon. At the time he was an elder of Webster Presbyterian Church and asked that a communion kit be prepared for his mission. The chalice he used on the lunar surface is now kept by the church.

Now, wanna see something really cool? Just in time for the fortieth anniversary, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken this image of the Apollo 11 landing site! You can clearly see the Eagle lunar module's descent stage, just as Armstrong and Aldrin left it forty years ago. The LRO has found four more Apollo landing sites thus far. Future photos will be even more detailed.

Forty years ago today came the greatest technological triumph of human history. It did not come cheap, and it was not without sacrifice. And it seems that somewhere along the way, we've lost that same spirit which once upon a time, did put a man on the moon.

But I like to believe that it's there still... and can be found again.

Here's a toast to the people of Apollo 11. May what they accomplished ever serve to inspire us all.


Anonymous said...

It never happened