The Apollo 11 Prime Crew - Commander, Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. (NASA)
Over forty two years ago I was a seven year old boy standing at the edge of the ocean watching Apollo 11 blast-off atop of the awesome Saturn V. I had seen other launches on television, memorized the names of astronauts, and knew more about rockets than every other kid in my neighborhood. My friends back home were watching on tv while I was actually there! I was feeling the power of that Saturn V first stage as it streaked into the blue Florida sky and I will never forget the summer of 1969*.
I remember in 1969 listening to a LP recording my Dad bought me that had recordings of all the important events of that historic Moonshot (that’s what rocket launches were called back then). At the end there was a recording of the NASA administrator. He talked about the vision, mission, and strategy for NASA and I couldn’t stop dreaming of science, exploration, and astronauts. I was seven years old and listening to US Government policy speeches and hanging on every word.
NASA 50th Anniversary
So over forty years has passed and I am once again at Space Coast USA. The rain outside matches my mood. NASA in many ways is in transition in terms of it’s future goals and mission aims. The reason I am at Kennedy Space Center is because I was invited by NASA to be a kind of citizen social media reporter. I am one of fifty people selected to document the launch of a new NASA satellite; the Radiation Belt Storm Probes. The fifty citizens paid their own way to NASA and they are rolling out the red carpet for us. Tours, interviews with scientists, engineers, and astronauts. I know that we are here at Kennedy Space Center because NASA needs our help. NASA inspires dreams like no other entity in the world. NASA astronauts inspires dreams of exploration. NASA scientists and engineers inspire dreams of understanding the universe. And children of NASA dream of creating a better and more peaceful Earth. We are children of NASA.
A lunar module plaque was placed on the decent state of each of the Lunar landers. Apollo 11 was first and it reads:
"HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON JULY 1969, A.D. WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND"
All of us that live on the Earth’s surface and in Earth orbit should remember that these words were inspired by the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act’s “declaration of policy and purpose.” NASA needs America’s support but American needs NASA more.
*Postscript - Neil Armstrong died August 25, 2012. He is the first man to walk on the Earth’s Moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to the Moon and astronaut Armstrong put his space boot onto the surface of another world. Not to minimize his NASA team or the critical work of Aldrin and Collins, Armstrong kept his cool and landed his spacecraft “Eagle” onto the Sea of Tranquility. “That’s One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind” were the first words spoken from another planet. Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered as the first human that left Earth’s cradle and walked on it’s sister, the Moon.
Apollo 11 Astronauts standing in front of their Apollo/Saturn V Space Vehicle