Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sea of Tranquility

Miami, Florida

Thirty nine years ago today, Apollo 11 lifted off from its Florida launch pad carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon.

Four days later, Sunday, July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin steered Eagle, their lunar module, to a landing on the moon's Sea of Tranquility while Collins remained in overhead orbit in his command module. Within six and a half hours, at 10:56pm EDT, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on another world.

In four days more, the three men splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, fulfilling the nation's commitment to land on and return safely from the moon before the 1960s ended. In announcing his support for the Apollo program to a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, President John Kennedy said

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Five moon landings subsequent to Apollo 11 ended in 1972. We have not been back since. Some say we should not make the trip, and others say we never will.

I think we should and hope that we will.

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