We Came in Peace For All Mankind
Apollo 11 at Fifty
I grew up in the shuttle generation. I watched with innocent eyes and felt part of my childlike innocence dissolve when the Challenger accident occurred. Undaunted, I wanted to go up there, slip the surly bonds of Earth, and chase the shouting wind into the sunlit silence.
Part of chasing that dream was reading about the history of spaceflight, especially the Apollo missions. I was amazed by how, after years of research and experimentation, we could sling three men to the moon and back in just over a week. One week elbow to elbow going there and coming back, but ultimately limitless when on the lunar surface.
Fifty years ago today, three American astronauts reached the moon. Two of them became the first humans ever to explore its surface. Five more crews followed them, and their inspiration lives on even today, forty-seven years after Apollo 17 landed in Taurus-Littrow.
Everyone involved in the history of manned spaceflight is a hero to me, but Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins stand out because of the milestone they reached and the impact they made.
Thank you, gentlemen. I hope we can continue to do your legacy proud in the future.
On January 28, 1986, I was a happy little five-year old watching the Space Shuttle Challenger launch into orbit. It was a special occasion because the first teacher was going into space, and it was inspiring. I don’t remember a whole lot from that day except cheering when the shuttle launched, being shocked when it disintegrated, and seeing my mother cry. That in itself was heartbreaking.
It was a confusing day, but it was that confusion that sparked my desire to study science because I wanted answers. That quest introduced me to Richard Feynman and made me realize that Morton-Thiokol and their rumbling rocket motor tests were essentially in my backyard.
That day also gave me dreams of being an astronaut. I never made it anywhere near being an astronaut, but I did get that physics degree.
Revisiting that day still hurts. To this day, I cannot hear the words “go at throttle up” without getting a lump in my throat.
Footage of the incident from CNN:
President Reagan’s address to the nation:
Godspeed, heroes of the Challenger. You’re still deeply missed.
Last week, podcaster and Chicago radio producer Jimmy Mac covered the topic of being called a nerd on The ForceCast. His position was that the term nerd is derogatory and shouldn’t be used to describe fans of Star Wars. I couldn’t disagree more.
The crowd at Wikipedia have defined “nerd” as “a term that refers to a social perception of a person who avidly pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavors, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests, rather than engaging in more social or conventional activities.” That got me thinking. Based on that, why shouldn’t we embrace the term nerd?