Friday Fives


1. Do you remember the Apollo 11 mission? Or any of the subsequent moon visits?

50 years ago this week, Apollo took off, landed on the lunar surface and returned to Earth. It is still extraordinary.   I am consumed about this, this week. As a young five-year-old boy I remember my neighbor Paul, who set up a telescope in his front yard and we had the chance through the days to witness what was happen up in space. It still gives me tingles.  We had an annual volume of our family encyclopedia set from 1969 (didn’t everyone in those days have an encyclopedia set?) which had that iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin standing on the Moon, which made Neil Armstrong the greatest human photographer for taking that shot. 

(Take about 20 minutes and watch the above video.  Captivating and rarely seen footage combined with rarely heard video from Mission Control, the Eagle lander and Collins in the Command Capsule.  Worth your time.  It gives me goose pimples.)

So it is always weird when I hear folks claim none of this was real. Yes, it happened, I saw it with my eyes in a telescope.  And it was always a tough time for Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin to deal with the conspiracy theories of a historic event that they lived through, live on television & this weekend I’ll be reliving it through NASA videos and news accounts.

2. Do you remember the first space shuttle launch?

Yes, although not as captivating as the moon landing. Probably because I was all grown up and alas we have become a bit complacent with the space travel thing. But the Space Shuttle was still a marvel of science and engineering.

3. Remember Skylab?

[Editor’s note: That little dark spot at the top of the sun is the International Space Station crossing the moon while in Earth’s orbit]

Yes, but I am more captivated and impressed by the International Space Station.  It is considered one of the greatest man-made machines and engineering creations of all time and many folks yawn when you bring it up, but seriously, that thing has been up there in orbit for years, nay, decades and is being improved upon all the time and is a thing of beauty.  Take some time to read the first half of Neil Stephanson’s SevenEves to get an idea of its majesty in design and prominence in space. (Note: this is a science fiction book telling the story of how the ISS saves all of mankind. The second half of the book is kind of lame and phoned in.)

4. Should we try to get to Mars?

Sure.  If Matt Damon can do it, we all can.

5. Are there space aliens out there?

Not in any kind of humanoid form that we would recognize – no.  Too random of a coincidence that there are others like us out there in the void.  We is all we are and we is all we’ve got.

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