I might be the only person in America who did not watch Apollo 11 land on the moon via CBS News’s legendary coverage of the event.
I was tuned in that day to NBC News. I heard the late Frank McGee intone, simply: “Man … is on the moon.”
But the link here is of the CBS coverage of the event, which occurred 46 years ago today.
It brings to mind this simple truth: We grew complacent about space travel over the years.
We launched a space race to the moon with the then-Soviet Union. President Kennedy had declared in 1961 that the goal would to be to “put a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth” by the end of the 1960s. We got there in the seventh month of the final year of that decade.
It was an exciting time. It was fraught with peril. But we knew that and at some level accepted the risk as part of the grand strategy, the goal. We had to beat those dreaded Soviets and by golly, we did!
The lunar program would end in 1972. NASA couldn’t justify spending so much money on missions that had grown — this is he word they used — “routine.”
There could be nothing routine about putting human beings atop a flaming rocket carrying thousands of pounds of fuel and sending them into outer space.
Tragedy would strike later. We’d go through the Skylab program. Then came the shuttle missions. Challenger blew apart on Jan. 28, 1986, killing all seven crew members. On Feb. 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated on its return from space, killing seven more crew members.
But on that glorious summer day in 1969, two men — the late Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin — had us holding our breath as they walked into history.