Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Heroic Age Recedes A Bit Into Memory

I note that Beastybunny has posted on the death of Neil Armstrong, but he deserves his own spot.   My parents put me to bed before the "small step" for mankind so I did not see it until the next day.  His picture on the moon with the iconic July date was above my bed all my teenage years.  Neil Armstrong did not seek the limelight.  He did not venture into politics, much, except near the end to decry the retreat from manned space flight.  He was the man who fulfilled JFK's promise "before this decade is out" to put a man on the moon.  There are still a number of them left from those three years when Americans reached out and held the moon in their hands.  As most were World War II and Korean vets they will be among us now for but a little while.

By the end the "Me" generation had turned from the space program (I was remined of this as I recently watched 1980's Superman II with bored NASA ground control ignoring dramatic actions on the moon).  Gene Cernan was the "last man on the moon" a title he has held for nearly 40 years.  Here is a piece on all the things that happened in one man's life time who watched the moon landing.    The Shuttle masked, for a time, the retreat from manned exploration of the solar system that the end of the moon program, accelerated with the end of the Cold War, wrought. 

Now, as Armstrong warned, we descend as a space power.  But once we flung men to other worlds.  There are many good and solid folk who believe in our current use of robots and Russian rockets.  But to others-we have nearly stopped taking the small steps that lead to Giant Leaps.  R.I.P. Neil Armstrong, American Hero.

1 comment:

Dave S. said...

I would replace "descend" with "recalibrate." You may have heard that we recently landed a nuclear-powered SUV on Mars via an insanely complicated landing process; this process was observed by a pre-positioned (American) probe orbiting the Red Planet. Meanwhile, SpaceX is on course to supplant the Soyuz rockets with Dragon capsules launched by Falcon 9s; the first official cargo launch has been scheduled and the configuration of the Dragon for humans proceeds apace.

We also have to make up lost time for the prone-to-combust low-Earth-orbit basket into which we previously put our eggs, but that will happen and we will eventually get to other worlds.