Forty Years Ago Today We Took Off For the Moon
It is still incredible that we went to the moon — and returned our people safely home. This is an achievement to be celebrated both in itself and for what it represents — that we are a society that is willing to do big, bold things.
On July 16, 1969, the Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 crew, capsule and lunar lander lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m. EDT.
Millions of people watched the event live on television, including President Nixon in the Oval Office.
Twelve minutes later, the spacecraft entered orbit around the Earth. It circled our planet one and a half times, then got one last boost from the Saturn V’s third stage and was set off on its way to the moon.
Here are a few more random thoughts on the moon landing:
- President Kennedy’s initial charter is still a model of effective goal setting. It was bold, clear, specific, time-bound, and inspiring. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
- We should go back.
- We should go to Mars.
- Why not just go straight to Mars? I thought this over a few weeks ago and read some things online. Apparently, we will be more effective in getting to Mars if we go first to the moon again and establish it as a base along the way. I would imagine that it would also be good preparation for the much more difficult task of getting to Mars.
- Why should we do these things? My son asked me last night why we went to the moon. It was extra-easy to answer him, because he wants to be a “discovery person” when he grows up (his term). I said: “Because God made us in such a way that we want to discover new things and explore.” That’s enough justification. It’s like art. You don’t first say “what’s the use of this?” It is valuable and enriching in its own right. Bold explorations to the moon, Mars, and elsewhere are the same. Beyond that, there is much practical use because of all the new technologies that come out of these endeavors.
- Teach your kids about the moon landings. I’m going through Mission to the Moon by Alan Dyerwith my son. There is greater significance in doing this than simply celebrating this cultural achievement. It is also an opportunity to teach the value of doing hard things.