July 21, 2012
Remembering Apollo: Walking On The Moon
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
It has been said that we speak anywhere between 7,000 to 24,000 words a day, and for the most part, those words go unremembered.
It is rare that words not only stretch beyond just one person´s ear, but to a gathering, and even rarer that those words last for generations and generations to quote.
On July 21, 1969, one group of words were set into stone and etched into the memories of every American since.
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Those were the words that resounded television sets across the country as Neil Armstrong stepped off Eagle's footpad, and pressed his foot into the lunar surface for the first time in history.
Upon those words, the night sky became a little more familiar to everyone on Earth, and man's ambition to explore was given an endless amount of objectives.
During Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's experience of becoming one of just a few men to have walked on the moon, they snapped photos, enjoyed the newly gained ability to hop farther than Michael Jordan by abusing the moon's limited gravity, and performed science experiments.
A mandate President John F. Kennedy made to land man on the moon before the end of the 1960s had been reached, with only a few months to spare.
The astronauts took pictures for NASA, and grabbed hold of the TV camera and gave viewers a panoramic sweep of the environment they were embracing.
Armstrong and Aldrin said they needed to plan their movements six or seven steps ahead, because the soil was slippery and the backpack created a tendency to tip backwards.
During their expedition of living out everyone's childhood dream, the astronauts planted the specially designed U.S. flag, and then made a telephone call from the moon to the Whitehouse to speak with President Richard Nixon.
After collecting rock samples, and continuing out scientific activities, the astronauts made their way back to their vessel to meet back up with Michael Collins aboard Columbia.
Once joining up with the command ship, the boys headed home, with Earth in their sights and memories made while on the moon behind them.
So far, this moment has been the most monumental in NASA's history. Ten other men would go on to walk on the moon before the Apollo missions ceased. Now, man's next ambition is to make Mars a tangible object. It is just a matter of time, and some more scientific engineering and tests until that becomes a reality.
U.S. President Barack Obama predicted that man would be setting foot on Mars by the mid-2030s, while Russia proposed that it could be trying to reach the Red Planet sometime between 2016 and 2020. In 2012, SpaceX's Red Dragon was envisioned, with a goal of launching a manned mission in collaboration with NASA in 2018.
Regardless of the future that lies in front, history is something that is for certain, and never forgotten. Even if Mars becomes the obtainable object in Man's eye in the next few decades, the Moon will have always been and always will be the stepping stone that got us there.