I was fascinated to see Buzz Aldrin interviewed by Sir David Frost recently. As the second man to walk on the moon (TM) Aldrin the astronaut has a special perspective on space travel, the moon and earth.
As space travel beckons for us mere mortals with the likes of Virgin Galactic it's great to look back at the original pioneers.
It's hard to believe that on Saturday, December 21, 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders enjoyed their last breakfast on earth for a while, the astronauts staple diet of steak and eggs, before leaving earth to orbit the moon. Mankind had left earth for the first time, as predicted by President Kennedy some six years hence.
I'm always flabbergasted when I see so much technology pass through Comms Express, technology that the early space missions could have only dreamed of. That old fable of the Americans inventing a pen to write up side-down and the Russians happy with a pencil highlights the just how basic the missions were. The average car will benefit from more technology then the brave Apollo astronauts had at their disposal.
On July 20, 1969 three men, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins left earth to return as heroes. Armstrong and Aldrin would walk on the surface of the moon, broadcasting their steps to audiences across the earth. These images are still ingrained in our consciousness today in 2013 as I'm sure they will be for generations to come.
To hear Aldrin speak I'm not sure even today he fully understands the enormity of what he and his fellow astronauts achieved. To think that these guys were test pilots, pushing planes to unheard of speeds and then plucked from their relative obscurity to become an early, but important part of the space program.
When asked what he thought of the moon, Aldrin's response was typically underplayed as he described the landscape as "desolate and totally lifeless." Although that hasn't stopped working to set up a colony on Mars. He continued by stating that this would only be possible with the technology we have available to us and the success and advancements we have made in that field.
I recall that lovely story the actor Tom Hanks recalled. As a young boy living in Northern California he was completely besotted with the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. So much so that he would put a brick into his swimming shorts so that he would sink to the bottom of the family swimming pool and with the garden hose to breathe he would pretend to walk across the surface of the Moon as he wadded across the bottom of the pool!
What Adrin's appearance further informed for me was that if we can work out how to send man to the Moon
we can surely figure out anything.
Until next time.