Monday, July 21, 2014

Seems Like Only Yesterday...

It has been 45 years since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969. The official date was the 20th of July, but with the time difference, it was actually the 21st here in Australia.
With so much going on in the world today, it would be easy to forget the anniversary, but at the time it was a monumental event.
An estimated 600 million people watched the television coverage of Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon, setting a record that would not be broken until the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana 12 years later.
Australia played an important role in the moon mission with the Deep Space Tracking Stations at Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla helping to maintain communications.
The famous Parkes Radio Telescope was also a key facility, as portrayed in the Australian feature film “The Dish.”
Of course, we all remember Neil Armstrong’s famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The line was supposed to be “one small step for A man…” and there was controversy for years about whether Armstrong made a mistake, or if the radio link just dropped out momentarily.
Either way, history was made that day, 45 years ago.
Neil Armstrong passed away in 2012 at the age of 82, but his Apollo Eleven colleagues Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are alive and well... Which is more than you can say for the US space program at the moment.
Since the retirement of the space shuttle, American astronauts are currently forced to hitch a ride on Russian space capsules to get the International Space Station….
I’m not sure how much longer that can go on, considering the current friction between Russia and pretty much the rest of the world.
Private companies like Space-X are expected to fill that void in the future, but for the time being, the once mighty NASA has no manned flight capability of its own.
I suspect Neil Armstrong would be disappointed about that.