|There are some things you can only do in the 21st Century
||[Jul. 20th, 2009|08:21 pm]
I've just caught the back end of the Apollo 11 twitter feed, recreating the minute by minute events of the flight as it came up on the 1021 warning, on the warning that they were low on fuel, on the bad radar data and finally on three words:
Eagle lunar landing.
I have done this, whilst listening to 'Welcome to Lunar Industries' part of Clint Mansell's excellent soundtrack to Duncan Jones' equally excellent film, Moon. Here it is:
Now, you can and justifiably so, piss and moan about the fact that we never followed up, that in the century after the Moon landings we've just barely got an expandable station into Earth orbit. You could even point out that the much vaunted manned mission to Mars Bush put forward has not only only fallen off the radar now but was essentially the same mission his father advocated during his time in office. You'd be well within your rights to, after all, we don't have personal spacecraft yet and that's a cause of serious irritation for my best friend.
But tonight, in 1969, two men are standing in a tent made out of tinfoil on top of a ridiculously spindly set of legs and an ascent engine. Two men are preparing to walk on the surface of the moon. Two men are changing history and the men that followed them continue to change it; Pete Conrad and his spinning propellor hat, Jim Lovell and his calm, compassionate determination, Alan Shepherd making it all the way from being America's first astronaut to playing golf on the moon on 14, Dave Scott and Al Worden proving Galileo right on 15, John Young and Charlie Duke on 16 launching the first subsatellite and finally Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to set foot on the moon on 17.
Then there are the Command Module pilots the astronauts that could look but not land; Michael Collins, Richard F. Gordon, Jack Swigert, Stuart Roosa, Al Worden, Ken Mattingley and Ron Evans. Standing next to them are Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, the cre who lost their lives in the Apollo 1 fire. Next to them are men like Deke Slayton, Chris Kraft and Eugene Kranz who bulled the program into life and kept it moving. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of engineers and technicians and scientists and workmen who hammered the future into existence, one idea, one rivet at a time.
These men and women are my heroes, and the future they built isn't dead, isn't gone. It's still there, waiting for the moment we have the determination to reach it again and to go further, to move out into the solar system. We've done it before, we can do it again.
So, tonight, for the first and only time on Livejournal, I offer a toast. To the future that waits for us. To Apollo.