Remembering Real Space Travel

By Robert Mark on January 2nd, 2010

Apollo At a time when most people don’t give space travel a second thought, I wanted to share this short clip of the Apollo 11 flight – the first time a human – Neil Armstrong – set foot on the face of the Moon. It took place just over 40 years ago and was a very big deal to those of us back then as thousands of people worked together to make President Kennedy’s dream of putting a man on the Moon a reality. Their focus on a commitment, that ability to bring all these people together for a common purpose was something to behold.

As we enter another decade, ask your self whether we as Americans are as focused on anything so monumental as we were 40 years ago. We’re superb at taking partisan positions on just about everything today, but as the final flights of the Shuttle fleet quickly approach, where does space flight and the quest to look beyond our own planet for the answers to life’s questions fit into our national priorities?

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the Apollo guys over the years. Even had lunch with Frank Borman and Jim Lovell a few years back. I still get all goose bumpy thinking about it. What’s going to do that for kids these days?

(Restored Apollo 11 footage – click to view)  image



Rob Mark, editor


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12 Responses to “Remembering Real Space Travel”

  1. Max Flight Says:

    At some point in your life you start to reflect on the things you’ve experienced. The perspective of time makes you realize that there are a handful of events that you will always remember in great detail. The birth of a child is an easy one. A marriage (or maybe two) is another.

    Other than these, for me it is the Kennedy and King assasinations, and landing on the moon. Just look at Walter Cronkite’s face in the video and you can see how we all felt at that moment as we sat glued to our television sets. Amazement, relief, satisfaction, pride. It was a defining moment, in history and we knew it.

    So what are we creating for today’s children that they will remember for the rest of their lives? Shouldn’t we be making historically defining moments for them and for society? I think we should. We need to go to Mars. We need to find out what’s out there. We just need to do it.

  2. David Parker Brown Says:

    I really hope private space travel can take off and cause excitement for a new generation.

    With finding of water on the moon, hopefully this will jumpstart the push to Mars.

    Only if Iran had the ability to go, maybe it would motivate the US enough…


  3. Stephen Ruby Says:

    40 years ago we were in involved in Viet Nam, there were anti-war protests, and I was buried deep in the jungles over there. I landed in
    Southeast Asia the day they landed on the moon.

    What have we learned??

    We are still in Iraq, and Afghanistan trying to fight a war that is for the most part unobtainable. Now we have directed the attention of the American public to the media blitz that seems to care nothing about accuracy or credibility.

    Our kids don’t have a lot going for them right now, because they lack a future when nothing is being stimulated by any sort of positive, exciting endeavor, realized 40 years ago. I ask you what with irresponsibility, greed corruption, and every effort to bankrupt this country, what does our youth see in any
    kind inspirational planning?

    The lack of honor, integrity, and respect
    in our system kills any attempts to reach beyond our scope and offer a solution to advance and give them something to model after…

    Just my opinion!!

  4. MikFinkel Says:

    I choose to believe we did in fact land on the Moon. I hope anyway.
    With all the things that are coming about with false imprisonment ( project freedom ) and all the other crap the government does, would it really surprise you if it was a hoax?
    Would it really surprise you the government has been in contact with aliens?
    Is it even possible with the billions of systems, not planets but systems out there we are the only ones?

  5. Brian Lusk Says:

    I know what you mean about goosebumps. A few years ago, I was privileged to tour Apollo Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, and I got to sit in the mission director’s chair. Talk about being surrounded by history.

  6. Rob Mark Says:

    Maybe folks like Branson and private space ventures are where we’re headed with people and spacecraft.

    I know we’ve made a rash of unbelievable discoveries using un-manned equipment the past decade and perhaps it’s simply my ego talking here, but none of it seems to united people the way some of the early manned space flights did.

    But then, I also remember dressing up to go fly on the airlines because it was so special.

  7. Julien Says:

    Over the XMas season I read “Failure is not an option” by Gene Kranz who was the mission controller for many Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions. Fantastic read, highly recommended.

  8. Norman Says:

    I sat down at the Smithsonian in Washington to watch ‘The Dream is Alive’ with a kind of mild European sarcastic distain. As the projectors rolled and the the beautiful earth rolled with them, my jaw dropped. It took an act of considerable self control to not jump up and clap and whoop like the distant cousins surrounding me.
    The Space Centre at Houston lit the same fire and now my admiration for the sheer ‘can do’ of the American people is something that I still try to come to terms with.

    Space flight and exploration will doubtless carry on even if it for some of the same reasons that the Apollo program launched. Nations need to make bold statements and focus their peoples vision. Whether we will see manned flight outside our solar system is another big question. Inter galactic – small to no chance. Wired did that one exceptionally well in an article some time back.

    I hope we carry on out there, the view is incredible and there is so much to see within as well as without. Space flight – a magical thing.

  9. Norman Says:

    Julian, that was a great read wasn’t it! Its players personify the spirit that I refer to above.

  10. Julien Says:

    Norman: Yes, defininitely. To see what was achieved by the Space Program in just one decade is just mind-boggling. I think they had a fair amount of chance too, and even Gene Kranz acknowledges that. There’s a few more Apollo missions that could have gone just as bad as Apollo XIII and didn’t. Maybe it’s not luck in the end, it’s just being prepared. “Tough and Competent” as became the motto of Mission Control.

    What amazes me most about the Space Program is that most members were young and learned everything on the job, and that, despite the fact that NASA gets all the credit, different parts of the system were built by different contractors and just worked when plugged together. Different work ethics I guess.

  11. Norman Says:

    Pushing the envelope is an overused expression, riding the ragged edge does it better for me.

    As for youth learning on the job, we both (UK/USA) had air force squadron commanders aged 21 and group commanders at 23 during the last war. These men were flash-formed in a crucible that raged out of control over the skies of Europe. I think we sometimes forget that old farts don’t have a lot over youngsters in reality, just perhaps a better developed sense of their mortality.

    Come the moment, come the man.

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