Yesterday was the anniversary of the first men landing on the moon. Thirty five years ago today, Neil Armstrong took that first giant leap for mankind.
I remember those two days. I was excited to be working at WSAR in Fall River, Ma. It was my first professional broadcasting job.
I was on my way to work as the astronauts landed. I had stopped in my green Volkswagen Beetle at a rest area somewhere between Boston and Fall River. People were standing around listening to their radios. It was a sultry summer evening.
It is still astounding to me that we were able to achieve this amazing journey. Even today, with technology so far advanced, our space program is far from worry free. This was really uncharted terriotory in every sense of the word.
Over the years, some parts of the experience have been lost, others aodpted as if they had happened, when in reality they hadn’t.
For instance, we’ve all seen the film of Apollo 11’s landing, with the voices of the astronauts and Houston controllers calling out flight details. That film was not developed until the astronauts returned! Sure, we heard the voices live. We never saw the pictures.
Maybe there’s confusion because we did see (with some of the poorest video ever watched) Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. That was transmitted live from a camera mounted somewhere on the exterior of the lander.
One of my favorite trivia questions concerns the first words from the moon¹. It wasn’t “One small step…” or “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The first words from the moon were, “contact light.”
Not very sexy. And, as my personal space expert, and former Inside Space producer, Dave Brody reminds me, that was said by Buzz Aldrin, not Neil Armstrong.
It is possible the greatest human achievment of my lifetime was achieved 35 years ago. That we haven’t exceeded this over that time period is a shame.
¹ – My favorite trivia question is: “What is Lady Bird Johnson’s first name?” It is neither Lady or Bird.