In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge to the nation to have a U.S. manned mission land on the moon within a decade. With the Cold War ongoing and the Soviets leading in space efforts, Kennedy’s call served to unite America’s best and brightest scientists and engineers and to invigorate the space dreams of the American people. The challenges in this endeavor meant that thousands of engineers, scientists and technicians would have to develop, create and test concepts and equipment that did not yet exist.
While mankind will always remember Neal Armstrong’s famous words and the names of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, what should not be forgotten is the remarkable achievements of the thousands of those who remained behind the scenes working and creating to bring about the ultimate success of the mission. All of NASA’s great achievements are and will continue to be the result of NASA employees and their dedicated and tireless work.
The Apollo 11 mission was the “proof of concept” mission that proved that NASA, with a dedicated country behind it, could achieve the “impossible”. The mission not only expanded our hopes, dreams and expectations but demonstrated our need for more NASA personnel engaged in all aspects of aerospace pursuits.
What must be remembered is that the moon landing was the culmination of many years of space efforts by NASA, building on the advances of prior space programs and achievements. Thousands of NASA pioneers worked on space programs such as Project Mercury, the first of NASA’s man-in-space programs and the Gemini Mission.
Fifty years ago, space technology was still in its infancy. The Apollo spacecraft computers that enabled men to walk on the moon had less processing power than that of a modern cellphone. So much progress has been made since that time, largely as a result of NASA’s commitment and the brilliant work of its dedicated personnel, that space exploration opportunities are now endless. Only imagination, training and funding are needed to reach new goals.
Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin into history. Millions of people were glued to television sets as Armstrong’s first step on the moon was televised live on July 20, 1969. “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” became one of space histories most famous quotations even though there is confusion as to the actual quote. Armstrong states that he said, “one small step for a man, while most heard “for man”. Either way, it was most certainly a great leap forward for mankind.
Space exploration is still the realm of unbounded opportunities. Space News provides several articles in their July 15, 2019 issue.
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If you remember the Apollo landings, What effect did they have on your life and career choices? Please add your comments.