Celebrating the moon landing’s 50th anniversary

Patrick Fisher, The New Prague Times

Next Tuesday, July 16, there will be several celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins’ launch from the Kennedy Space Center and their successful journey to the moon, landing on it and traveling back to Earth.

I was only one year old when those three men made that historical trip. While they, and their fellow astronauts, have had the majority of the spotlight, there were teams of people behind them that helped make this momentous accomplishment possible. There were scientists, engineers, mathematicians, meteorologists and politicians to figure out such things as fuel, how to build a feasible rocket ship to carry people beyond the earth to the moon, land on it and get back home, the best course to take, the best time to lift off due to the weather and those who drummed up support and funds.

Growing up in that time after that first moon landing and the following five there was a feeling of a type of pride that the United States had accomplished such an endeavor. There was a hope for the future, that we were reaching beyond our world into something more vast and it was going to be done working together. That it was going to be all of humanity functioning together to explore at least our own solar system. That we would explore other planets and even ideas about dwellings on the moon. It fired the imagination of people that led to stories or inspired others to go into the sciences.

Today the dwellings on the moon have yet to happen, although there are still ideas about those and ones on Mars talked about. Unfortunately they are both more talk, and if they are going to happen, governments and private companies are taking their own sweet time to get it done. It’s understandable since there are a lot of questions of how to make long range space travel a reality. How do you power such a ship? With fuel or a nuclear rocket? How do you protect the crew from long term exposure of the radiation in space? How do you handle the affects of being weightless for so long? There’s a lot of theories and even more fiction has been written on the subject, but it takes time and a lot of work to figure out which theories and fiction can best be turned into actual facts. Scientists have come up with hydroponics, growing plants in as little soil as possible, but that’s a far cry from terraforming, where you change a planet’s environment for the better.

We are exploring space and planets, but more through the Voyager space crafts, the Hubble space telescope, the Rover robots on Mars and the International Space Station, all of which NASA had a hand in. It’s still incredible the amount of information we’ve gathered and what we’ve learned in the past 50 years, but, outside of the International Space Station, sometimes I think it doesn’t satisfy that part of the human spirit that are explorers. The part that can say we as a people have actually physically been there.

As for working together, while there are those of us who are striving for that there seems to be those who want to keep us fragmented.

Perhaps 50 years from now there will be those who can look at the 100th anniversary of the moon landing and that hope we had of exploring and of a better future will be satisfied.



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