LIVING IN THE PAST: As a young child, there were references to the man in the moon which I always took to mean the black splotches on that shiny surface which looked like a human face. I believe there also was a myth in some cultures that a man actually lived on the moon. I remember the opening scene from Jackie Gleason’s show “The Honeymooners” always showed his round smiling face as though he were the man in the moon.
As a young child I also remember watching science fiction shows (eg Flash Gordon) in which men were able to talk great distances with each other using a video link and travel in fast rocket ships to distant planets.
For all of us those notions were things that existed in the imagination of authors and movie producers. Before the Space Race began in the early 1960’s, I doubt anyone believed they would see a man ON the moon in their lifetime.
The race to the moon started with the successful launch by a Russians of a satellite called Sputnik in 1957 which was followed by the launch of a cosmonaut into space, Yuri Gagarin in April of 1961. The United States was not going to lose to the Soviets so a lot of money was poured into our space program. We thought we would win, but the Soviets seemed able to pour vast amounts of money and manpower into it. For the United States it seemed like it was a matter of national honor to beat the Russians to the moon.
There were early victories with Alan Shepherd in May of 1961 becoming the second man in space and the first American. Then there around the earth space trips. Finally it was time to send our man, Neil Armstrong to the moon.
I was in the Army at the time getting ready to be posted to Korea so I did not get to follow the event very closely. I only got to see footage of the slow-motion action of Neil Armstrong bouncing lightly on the moon July 20, 1969. His famous words still echo “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
At the time it was hard to grasp the notion that man was finally leaving earth’s gravitational pull heading out to the furthest parts of our galaxy, but he did. We are living in the future from that first lunar landing. What new technologies will man and woman dream up in your lifetime? Will you be one of the dreamers? Did the US landing a man on the moon first spell the end of space exploration. Here is a link to NASA’s website to see what they are working on now: http://www.nasa.gov/. We are still living in exciting times.