"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Begins

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 as it made its historic trip from the Earth to the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.

JFK's We Choose the Moon Speech (transcript) kicked off the space program into high gear with his speech at Rice University. The most famous lines, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." actually comes at about the halfway point (8:40 in) as the video below shows. Decades later the words still inspire.

Below is the video of the launch of Apollo 11 into space. Today, WeChooseTheMoon.com virtually re-created the launch and is "tracking" 11 as it travels to the moon.

Relating to the moonwalk, NASA released today restored videos of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they walked on the Sea of Tranquility. The videos were digitally restored and cleaned up to provide the best look yet of that historic moment. The restored videos can be found here.

Probably the best dramatizations of the mission to reach the Moon is the HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" that is worth watching if you get the chance. My favorite episode, being a geek I guess, is "Spider". It tracks the challenges in creating the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that allowed the astronauts to land on the moon, specifically with LEM 5 aka The Eagle, as in "The Eagle has landed." Below is the end of that episode.

The lesson of the moon shot is simple. American's are capable of pretty much anything when the nation unites as one to achieve a singular goal. The result isn't just a moment of history but the knowledge, technology, and industry that results. Maybe it’s time we repeat history but do it for a new agenda be it for a cure to cancer or HIV, eliminate oil as primary source of energy or even further exploration of space. Rather than trying to find a new boogeyman to fear and destroy let us focus this nation on creating something wonderful that will benefit generations to come.

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