I was at the neighbor’s house babysitting and the kids were already in bed. Walter Cronkite was on television misty-eyed, pondering whether we’d ever view the moon in quite the same way, now that Neil Armstrong had stepped onto its ghostly surface. I watched as the pale images played behind him. Was it really fifty years ago?
I recently visited Seattle’s Museum of Flight and the Destination Moon Exhibit, the centerpiece of which is the Apollo 11 Command Module, the only part of the spacecraft to return back to earth intact. I was surprised at how small it was – 10 ft. 7″ high and 12 ft. 10″ in diameter, and yet it once sat on top of a 363 foot Saturn V rocket that hurtled three men into space.
It was home to the astronauts on their historic journey and orbited around the moon, piloted by Michael Collins after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left in the Lunar Module for the moon’s surface. It received them back again, then carried crew, equipment and lunar samples back into Earth’s atmosphere before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. It’s come a long, long way.
While at the Museum I picked up Michael Collins’ book, Carrying the Fire written in 1973. If you’d like to know what it was like to be an astronaut during the sixties and learn about the mission to the moon from the inside, then this is the book for you! Collins writes candidly and with humor, and leaves you with appreciation for the magnitude of the mission and the brilliant minds of those who tackled it.
But back to Walter and his musings. Would we ever again view the moon the same as before men walked on its surface?
I admit I do. To me, it’s still the same beautiful, glowing orb best seen from earth – full of intrigue and mystery.
Still, it’s good to remember – and be proud I think – that this happened once.