I was born in 1969, about two months after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. My whole life, the moon exploration file has sat in the outbox of humanity’s To-Do list.
My generation, and those brilliant if cocky Gen Ys and Zs who’ve followed, have all grown up in a world where we believe anything is possible, and not just because of all those sneakers ads. The theme of the JFK-inspired lunar program, as evidenced by those famous Armstrong words upon touching the lunar surface, was all about a giant leap for mankind.
In truth, NASA’s lunar conquest was more about asserting American superiority in a world then divided by an invisible iron curtain, than it was about the potential of the human race as a whole. All the same, the latter message lives on today. We can do anything. All of us. America’s moon landing was everyone’s moon landing, and for that, we have Armstrong to thank.
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Photography in space had a slow start. The first American to orbit the earth was John Glenn, the addition of a 35mm camera to his equipment on board Friendship 7 in February 1962 was according to NASA’s official history website “an afterthought”
“An Ansco Autoset 35mm Minolta was bought at a drugstore and hastily modified so the astronaut could use it more easily in a pressure suit.” The website goes on to tell us.
Little it seems was expected of these early attempts at photographs in space.
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The moon landing captured the world’s collective imagination in a way that has been unparalleled either before or since.
This is part of the the newly digitally-enhanced NASA footage of the landing:
Humanity’s will to discover has been the engine room of progress and Neil Armstrong’s steps on the moon are perhaps humanity’s greatest achievement of discovery and a most magnificent triumph of the will.
It was an achievement born of one President’s declaration combined with seven years of political will to realise it.
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I have a theory that about 90 per cent of the viewer interest in motor sport of any kind is the potential to watch serious crashes.
Just look at what they show from the “highlights” of the Daytona series on Sports Tonight – it’s 40 cars doing quadruple flips over each other at 200 kilometres with the commentator yelling “whoa mamma!”
As space shuttle Endeavour waits on the Florida tarmac like so many QANTAS “express” flights, any interest we maintain in the NASA space program has similarly boiled down to the initial take-off explosion and whether or not the shuttle will blow-up before it touches back home. This is a shame because space exploration is an amazing and important human achievement.
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