On July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. landed their spacecraft in the Sea of Tranquility…and on July 21, they cracked open the hatch and became the first humans to walk on the Moon.
It was no small feat getting three men to the moon; in fact, it took years. It was U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who addressed Congress in 1961 and boldly issued the challenged, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” And before the decade was out, Apollo 11 and three astronauts accomplished the goal.
By today’s standard’s their spacecraft and technology were ancient. The cramped crew quarters of Apollo 11 barely left room for the equipment, much less three rocket scientists. Need more perspective? The computer in your iPhone is more powerful than the computer that helped send these three astronauts to the moon.
“The Eagle Has Landed.”
The astronauts’ landing craft, Eagle, sat on the lunar surface for 21 hours and 31 minutes. Meanwhile, the Module Pilot of Columbia, Michael Collins, orbited above the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin took a celestial stroll. And when they returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, they brought with them the hopes of the world and 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of moon rocks and lunar dust – and while you may think rocks wouldn’t make the greatest souvenir, the lunar artifacts are actually some of the most valued rubble on Planet Earth.
Becoming a Rocket Scientist
Today the footprint and U.S. flag the astronauts left behind still stand untouched on the moon’s surface. A beacon, if you will, to future generations to carry on the tradition of exploration. You can follow in their footsteps with an updated version of Space Camp and amazing adventures in science and engineering. It takes determination and a passion for learning but if a trip to the moon is any indication, the reward is certainly worth it.
The last 40 years of space exploration were ruled by NASA. Private industry and companies like Google and Virgin look to rule the next 40 years. Nonetheless, mankind shouldn’t stop reaching for the stars. If anything, we should strive to explore our universe, all the while thanking the three guys who made the first steps beyond our planet. Do you want to be an astronaut?
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