Karen: Today, July 20, 2013, is the 44th anniversary of something that should be a national holiday: the day men first stepped upon the Moon. It was back on this day in 1969 when the Apollo 11 lunar lander, the Eagle, touched down upon the lunar surface, and astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being to ever walk upon the surface of another planetary body. His partner, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin joined him shortly after. This tremendous feat was achieved through the genius, hard work, and sheer force of will of thousands of people. Even today, as we have leapt ahead dramatically in our technological know-how, the Apollo program stands as a testament to the incredible greatness we as a species can reach, through our combined efforts.
Now of course, the impetus for the mission itself was not all sweetness and light. The motivation for the entire space race was primarily due to the Cold War, and the desire to ensure the the 'high ground of space' was not owned by the Soviets. Still, the efforts of the brave astronauts, and the scientists, engineers, technicians, and workers who made science fiction into reality, became the stuff of legend and inspired many.
Unfortunately, after Apollo, it seems our space program never really seemed to find a direction. The shuttle program, while a necessary workhorse, was never inspiring. Once the Soviets began to collapse, there was no 'other' to push us to go further, to risk more. Missions to Mars have been relegated to robots only, and it seems likely that exploration for the foreseeable future will remain with probes and machines only. Right now NASA doesn't even have any rockets of its own with heavy lift capabilities; flights to the International Space Station have relied on the Russians, who have had their own problems with their rockets lately, and commercial efforts
The space program was once inspirational; occasionally, it still is. A few people got excited when the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the red planet last year. But by and large, the program has lost its luster with the public. That's nothing new; people were jaded with the later Apollo missions.
Most of us BABsters grew up right around the time of the moon landings, Skylab, Viking, and the first Shuttle launches. I'm sure some of you have some feelings about not only the first moon landing, but also what's going on (or not going on) in space. I'd like to hear it.
Except any hoax theories. Sorry, but I really DON'T want to hear that stuff!!