Apollo 11 turns 40.

It was 40 years ago today when Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins touched down on the moon. The Byrds, the quintessentail folk-rock group sang:

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were launched away in space
Millions of hearts were lifted, proud of the human race
Space control at Houston, radio command
The team below that gave the go they had God’s helping hand.

A high school senior at the time, I was very excited about the journey to the moon. I read widely…Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clark. I even wrote a book myself on space travel-It’s called
The Moses ProbeMaybe it was escapist, but with the media ballyhooing nuclear showdown with the Russians, with political leaders being assinated and riots wracking the inner cities….OK, we’ve got bad news today, too. Anyway, Neil Armstrong said it best as he uttered the first words on the moon… “A big step forward for humanity.” many There are those who said the space program was pork barrel, but look at all the technological advances that can be traced to the space race. Transistor radios, better paint finishes, communications tech. It was disappointing that not much new seems to have happened in the last 30 years, so far as manned missions go.

Then again, now take satellites for granted. The Hubble telescope, the Mars Rover. There is talk of travel to Mars in our lifetimes. One can only speculate what resources can actually be gleaned from space. But perhaps the greatest gift of all is the mental challenge and the focus it brings to discovery, invention and collaboration.