Where were you forty years ago?

http://www.hightechscience.org/Apollo_Lunar_Excursion_and_Command_Module_1b.JPGI am a space fan, I am the first to admit. I almost have to be, don’t I? Can you claim the word “techy” and not have at least some passing interesting in space and space travel?

Besides the requisite Star Wars and Star Trek fandom, I am also a big fan of NASA program and have been since I was a youngster. All of the excitement and re-enactments of this historic fortieth anniversary (See http://wechoosethemoon.org/) has got me reminiscing back to those days.

Of course, I answered “astronaut” on the forms that asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? (I also rotated between TV cameraman, nurse, teacher, paramedic and cowboy – among others). But, space and traveling through space has always fascinated me. And, it still does. I applied to the Teacher in Space program even though I was still in undergraduate school. I remember talking with other teachers about it later and them asking if I could still want to do it after the Challenger accident that claimed Christa McAuliffe. My answer is always: YES!

I WANT to see the Earth from above.
I WANT to see the moon up close and personal.
I WANT to feel the lack of gravity
I WANT to see so many stars that my mind cannot comprehend what it is seeing

I remember watching the Apollo 11 mission with my family. Mom and Dad got a new television that summer and I have always heard to reasons: one to watch the lunar landing and the other (since it was a color TV) so that Mom could see the red hair on some character on a soap opera she watched. I pretty much believe either one but chose to go with the first reason.

So the names of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were easily thrown around our house like we knew them. I built NASA models like the one above (my favorite but I also build many of the rockets and the lunar rover buggy – that one was hard!). I read books about NASA history. In fact, I totally latched on to the Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom as a favorite. I think I picked him out from a group photo and decided he was my favorite. When I read that he died when I was about 5 (before the space fascination began, I suppose), I remember being pretty sad about that.

So, as we have the web sites with historic photos, NASA releasing digitally enhanced videos and many Twitter historical re-enactments, take a few minutes to think about how awesome this trip of Apollo 11 truly was: we did go where no one had gone before. The technology itself might seem less than sleek and modern but it got the job done and the feeling that crew must have had when they landed back in the capsule splashing down in the ocean must have been something else.

I will enjoy my Twitter feed today as we think back 40 years to the one giant leap we made.