In December 1972 the last astronaut to walk on the Moon, Eugene Cernan, said these prophetic sentences as he prepared to leave the surface and return to Earth.
“Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.
And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17″.
The Apollo moon program shaped who I am today and still means a lot to me. I remember my father letting me stay up late at night in July 1969 when we watched together Neil Armstrong became the first man on the Moon. I was ten years old and the images and sounds and excitement of James Burke & Patrick Moore have never left me. In fact the reason I studied for my Masters in Astrophysics was because of the inspiration that NASA brought to me.
As the years have gone by since Apollo I followed with huge interest the Space Shuttle program, being lucky enough to watch with my family the take off of STS-109 Columbia on her mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope early in the morning of 1st March 2002 on the Florida Space Coast while we were on holiday there.
This was a tearful moment for me as it was my life’s ambition to be an astronaut and I knew this would be the closest I’d ever get to it in real life. Tears of sorrow followed less than a year later on the 1st February 2003 when I saw live on the internet while working from home at 85 Foxwood Columbia disintegrate on reentry on STS-107.
Lately I still get follow every ISS mission but it is with a tinge of sadness for NASA that they have to rely on the Russian Soyuz for manned flights for their astronauts at an ever increasing cost… Frankly Obama was asleep on duty for eight years as far as I was concerned and although the American private sector has taken up some of the slack & quite impressively too I can’t help but feel that NASA needs to take the lead.
So it was with some idle curiosity this morning after watching POTUS Trump talking about “Paris not being Paris anymore” I wondered what his take on NASA was? Much to my surprise I was actually quite excited as his administration has asked NASA to consider making the first mission of the Orion/Space Launch System manned!
Risky political pressure I’ve read today in a lot of the US press, but from my viewpoint a refreshing challenge of the status quo from the previous President who seemed to kick NASA into long touch by focusing on a very risky & longer term Mars mission. My view is that if America wants to be great again it should concentrate first on establishing a Moonbase first as I was never a big fan of low earth orbit.
At least with this as the goal maybe, just maybe, I’ll see Gene’s prophecy come true in my lifetime, I sincerely hope so, sadly Gene passed away in January…
God Bless America and fingers crossed!