Forty-seven years ago yesterday, man took the first steps on another planet.
Think of it. Another planet.
They took off in a Saturn V rocket, sitting on 2,740 tons of highly explosive fuel. They flew 238,900 miles in a spacecraft controlled by a computer that pales in comparison to the smartphone you now hold in your hand. The shock absorbers didn’t lock upon landing, leaving the lunar module stairs stopping almost four feet off the surface of the moon (The famous words “One giant leap for mankind” was no exaggeration). They had to use precious take-off fuel to maneuver the module around unexpected boulders before they could land. There were problems with the module door, spacesuits, the drinking water on board, and on and on. And in case the astronauts didn’t return from the trip, a trusted friend would carry autographs of the astronauts to the surviving families that they could sell to ensure support for their wives and children.
Those men had guts. Their wives too. So did the thousands of men and women who worked tirelessly for years to pull off the riskiest venture man had ever taken. No matter how carefully they planned, lives were at stake.
In the 47 years since, we seem to have lost our way, forgotten the greatest accomplishment mankind has ever achieved. Once we beat the Soviet Union to the moon, we lost interest. A stingy Congress cut back funding to NASA, the space shuttle siphoned dollars away. And now we’re more than 20 years away from a manned voyage to Mars. Plans are underway. And there’s a lot of talk.
Almost five decades ago, people stopped talking about going to the moon and just did it. And they didn’t count the cost to do it.