‘One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind’
This Saturday sees the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Apollo 11 left earth on 16th July 1969 with 3 astronauts aboard, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. It took 76 hours for the Apollo 11 to enter into a lunar orbit on July 19th.
On 20th Armstrong and Aldrin in the lunar module “Eagle”, separated from the command module where Collins remained. Two hours later the Eagle began its descent to the surface of the Moon, and at 4.17pm the craft touched down and Neil Armstrong immediately radioed the Mission Control at Houston, stating: “The Eagle has landed”
On 21st July the world watched Armstrong take the first steps on the Moon with the now famous words“that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
Neil Armstrong died in 2012, but on Tuesday last news programmes showed Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins meeting at the original launch pad of Apollo 11, and there commenced a weeklong celebration to mark this moment in history.
I’ve always been interested in anything about space, so in 2001 while on holiday in Florida, the highlight of the trip for me was a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre. It was just amazing. You can see the Apollos and Shuttles, and are taken on a coach tour of the area which brings you out near the launch pad. There is a piece of rock brought back from the Moon that you can touch.
The mission control centre which was used when Apollo 13 got into trouble is on display. A memorial at the centre bears the following inscription dedicated to those who lost their lives:
“Whenever mankind has sought to conquer new frontiers there have been those who have given their lives for the cause.
This astronauts’ memorial dedicated May 9 1991 is a tribute to American men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice believing the conquest of space is worth the risk of life”.
I bought a souvenir of the emblems of the Apollos - at the Centre there are giant size emblems of the Apollos and Shuttles on view.
Ireland and the Moon Landing!
In August 1969 my family were on a camping holiday in Doonbeg, Co Clare, and while out walking one evening our father got talking to a local farmer. The recent unsettled weather was mentioned and the farmer said it was all down ‘to them going to the Moon’.
I can still see the image of the two so clearly, leaning on a gate.
Maybe he was right!