My memory is faint of the moment man walked on the moon. I was not yet four years old. Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module and put his boot into the deep gray surface dust of the moon. As half a billion people watched around the planet Earth he calmly spoke the words, "That's one small step for man, one giant lea p for mankind."
45 years after the historic momentNASA TV offered the opportunity to watch the live audio and video feed of the night of Jul 20, 1969 in real time. I called up the live stream last night and watched as Armstrong became the first person to walk on the face of the moon followed closely by Buzz Aldrin.
There was an energy attached to watching events unfold in a series of brief audio transmissions and that grainy black and white video feed. Armstrong and Aldrin seem elated by the silliest of movements and steps. They are impressed by the powdery dust on the moon. They are precise in accounting for a simple task like being sure they can get back up the ladder that took them off the Lunar Module.
I got a good dose of Buzz Aldrin's infectious enthusiasm for exploration when I met him while covering the Space Shuttle launch that returned Mercury Six Astronaut John Glen to space in 1998. Aldrin is not so famously known as the second man to step foot on the moon. He was disappointed at that time that space shuttle travel had not yet opened to the public. Since then NASA scrubbed the shuttle program.
No more shuttle. No more Apollo mission's to the moon. There are unmanned rockets that liftoff for exploration and satellite launches. There is talk of Mars, but not much publicly.
The imagination has drained. The Cold War motivation has vanished. The American appetite for space exploration has faded. Yet, spend an hour watching man walk on the moon and it just might get you thinking this generation is missing out on unknown opportunities that could come for reaching for the stars.
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