I was eight on May 25, 1961, which must have been just the right age. When I heard the news that President Kennedy had proposed that the US “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,” I was ecstatic.
Yet I was mystified too. How does one DO that? A moon landing felt like science fiction.
I followed the Mercury flights starting with Alan Shepherd’s trip, albeit a few weeks after the Soviet’s Yuri Gagarin. John Glenn went to orbit! Missions grew longer by both countries.
Sidebar: I loved the revelation of the movie Hidden Figures (2016), “the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.”
I thought the naming of the Gemini program, with two astronauts, was mighty clever. Edward White did a space walk in June 1965, albeit nearly three months after the USSR’s guy. The rendezvous of Gemini 6 and 7 in December 1965 I found to be particularly cool.
I was devastated when I learned that White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire aboard the Apollo 1 on January 27, 1967. Not only was the human toll tragic, I thought that this was the end of making JFK’s deadline. Little did I know…
Apollo 8 famously brought us pictures of earth at Christmastime 1968, which helped propel the environmental movement. Apollo 9 and 10 were dress rehearsals for the Apollo 11 moon landing by Armstrong and Aldrin, as Collins remained in the Command Module.
This year, I’ve watched/read virtually every story about that era. Most especially, I’ve appreciated the rebuilding of the Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston.
Sidebar: I realized that Apollo 13 (1995) was a great movie when I sat on the edge of my seat wondering if the astronauts would get back, even though I KNEW how it turned out.
Here’s some moonfoolery from Apollo 16. But after Apollo 17 in December 1972, with a total of 12 men walking on the surface of the moon, that was it?
There would be other manned flights, starting with Skylab and the space shuttles. But I started seeing them as routine fare until the Challenger disaster in January 1986.
Now there’s a plan for the United States to finally go back to moon, with the ultimate goal of reaching Mars. This is interesting idea.
I watched Jordan Klepper interview Scott Kelly. The astronaut said that he has no problem with Bezos or Musk or some other billionaire helping fund the trip and bypassing some NASA bureaucracy.
I guess I’m “on board” with this new mission, though I’ve lost some of that youthful enthusiasm.