A Decade When Apollo Astronauts and the Moon Shot Took America by Storm
People of all ages were “spaced out in the sixties” for a variety of different reasons.
That being said, the Apollo project was a respectable subject upon which to focus one’s thoughts – away from the world here on earth.
People of all ages were inspired and fascinated by the thought of space travel.
Fictional shows portrayed life in space. Documentaries kept the public abreast of developments. School teachers’ lessons were based on the press releases of NASA.
Toys, cereals, drink mixes, all sorts of consumer products were designed in the images of items used by the real-life astronauts, or the styles exhibited by science fiction characters.
Conversations, television presentations, nearly everything in the 1960’s was centered around the future of space travel.
Early in the decade, President Kennedy declared that America would make it to the moon before we entered the 1970s ,and we did, though the ambitious president was, sadly, not there to see it.
NASA engineers and astronauts accomplished the seemingly impossible, sent three men out of this world, to visit the man in the moon, check for green cheese, step onto the Sea of Tranquility.
Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?
Did the Moon Landing Really Happen?
It was so long ago, and we never returned there once the Apollo project ended. We seldom mention the moon landing in conversation. Parents of two generations weren’t even born in 1969, so they have no memories to relay.
It’s no wonder rumors have popped up saying the moon landing was fake – an act filmed on a Hollywood sound stage.
Odd as the idea seems today, I’m pretty sure the trip was real.
It seems Buzz Aldrin once quarreled with a man who questioned the reality of the eight day tour with a stop on the lunar surface.
I’m sure it would be a slap in the face to have someone question such an accomplishment.
The Numbered Missions of the Apollo Project
Here’s a link to the Apollo Missions, as summarized by The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Stars in Our Eyes:
The astronauts were role models for many children who aspired to grow up and become a part of the space missions we expected would be common occurrences in future years.
Millions Perched on the Edges of Living Room Couches as Apollo 11 Blasted Off
Just as schoolchildren had watched each rocket launch throughout the decade, sometimes on TV’s rolled into school classrooms, families gathered to see the drama of Apollo 11 unfold. The first moon walk itself was viewed live by about one-fifth of the world’s population, an estimated 500-600 million citizens.
The rocket left the earth’s surface at 9:32 am EDT on July 16, 1969.
Four days later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon’s surface, based in the lunar module christened Eagle, according to NASA.
Michael Collins remained in orbit aboard the command module called Columbia, as first Armstrong, then Aldrin, took the initial steps by earthlings onto the moon’s surface.
Neil Armstrong took his one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind at 10:56 pm EDT July 20, 1969. Millions of mothers woke children from slumber to experience the historic moment.
Following the return trip through the space between earth and moon, splashdown came at 12:50 pm EDT, July 24, 1969.
America welcomed back the star astronauts, bearing boxes of moon rocks, and rolls of film depicting images of the moon’s surface.
Shuttled to Earth
The Space Shuttle program followed Apollo, suffered the tragedies of the Challenger and Columbia. Now that program seems to be shuttered. America is relying on the Soviets to ferry astronauts to their stints on the International Space Station.
America’s space age is in hiatus. Granted, funds may be needed elsewhere, but the space race served to joine together all of America in a common purpose. We shared hopes, dreams, imagined great things.
Perhaps one day, America will return to prosperous times for most citizens, a condition experienced in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and we will once more share in a universal dream, similar to the space program – a goal that draws us together with all the others who reside in our country, our world, the universe.
Note: a Parade Magazine article was the source for some of the statistics included in this post.