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July 20, 1969: What Does it All Mean?

14 Jul 2009, 23:40 UTC
July 20, 1969: What Does it All Mean?
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"Earthrise on Moon" Source: NASA

The media is awash in a small tidal wave of Apollo 11 mission analysis and nostalgia for that time, 40 years ago, when an earthling first set foot on the Moon. I watched the Lunar landing on an old black and white TV in a low-budget Berkeley rental with my young family. My teeth were clenched when Neil Armstrong manually took over the controls due to a large field of boulders suddenly appearing in the field of view at the landing site. He veered away from it and finally landed the "Eagle" on a smoother surface with only 17 seconds of fuel left. After the landing I remember comments from Mission Control at Johnson Space Center indicating that many of those sitting at the consoles still looked quite blue, but were slowly recovering. It reminds us of the value of being prepared for most anything, as were the astronauts and mission control operators, and the role of good luck. It seemed so impossible, so surreal, and very hard to grasp even though it was on live TV. Only after some deep breathing could we appreciate the fact that Armstrong, the first to place a foot ...

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