Apollo 11 Anniversary (July 20, 1969)



The First Man must be humble
yet self-possessed in times of crisis
confident, as one who's been sorely tried.

Drop him, spin him, shake him
race his heart,
see if he dies.

Undaunted by fame,
puzzled by all the fuss,
natural in the glare.

Stick him in a close compartment,
sling it into the girding dark;
crown him with hero's laurels
should he return.


images-2Real space nuts know that July 20th, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

As that date draws near, I’m filled with equal parts nostalgia and melancholy.  In July, 1969 I was five and 2/3 years old and still believed anything was possible.  I recall being absolutely entranced by the thought of a man, a human being just like me, walking around up there on the moon.

Not sure why I’ve been so hung up on the moon this year–there’s the radio play I wrote, “Innocent Moon”, for the BBC contest…and later on in July we’ll be posting a special treat Sherron helped me put together, a short but sweet homage to Neil and the lads, using some of the fancy gear that came with this iMac.  I’ll say no more.  Watch for it in a couple of weeks.

And I came across this fantastic site real Apollo aficionados will love:  you sign in and you can relive every moment of that four-day mission in real time.  Take a trip to the moon with Neil, Buzz and Mike Collins.  Only recommended for those with strong bladders and 96 hours to kill.

If anyone knows of other interesting sites celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, use the Comments form below and give us a head’s up (be sure to include a link).

Personal reminiscences are also welcome:  where we you forty years ago and how did that one small step affect you, your life and your outlook on the universe?

Do tell



  1. Mike Cane

    Where did those forty — *forty*!!! — years go?

    I was sent to a damn summer camp. The days of B&W TV and we weren’t allowed to see any news of the landing, can you believe that crap?! Me and friend snuck up to a Counselor’s room anyway, but it was occupied. But the door was ajar and the TV was on … and we heard the news just then!

    I go back the Mercury program, so I saw footage of them doing the first space walks and all of that during Gemini and all the tests leading up to the moonshot.

    There is just no way to transmit that Space Age(!!!) optimism and excitement to people today.

    Several years later, I was in one of those damned hippie head shops someone dragged me too. Up there on the wall was a poster of Armstrong on the Moon in a fake newspaper design with this headline: SO WHAT?

    Been downhill ever since for us all.

  2. Cliff Burns

    To me, Armstrong on the moon was one of those “monolith moments”, when humankind took a giant evolutionary leap forward. In our technology…but also our ambition, the scope of our dreams. But, you’re right, that was a high water moment and it’s been a steady slide back to where we are at the present moment, performing plant and crystal experiments in near Earth orbit. We’ve temporarily turned our back on our destiny but I retain hope we will come to our senses again soon.

  3. Mike Cane

    We are surrounded by those who don’t dream. Japan has bullet trains, top-notch cars, and (until recently) the best Internet on mobile phone experience. Let’s not even mention their dominance in anime.

    We’ve got Amtrak, GM … and thank God Apple came along to get that whole cellphone thing right or it’d be three strikes!

    Kennedy had the vision to get us to the Moon. He dreamt. Everyone else is asleep.

  4. geneg

    I remember the day Neil Armstrong was picked to be the first American on the moon. It was March 16, 1966, He and Dave Scott aboard Gemini 8 had a short while earlier concluded the first docking in space. They had latched onto a spent Agena-B and were preparing to disengage when all hell broke loose. The Agena began a rolling tumble, completely disorienting the two astronauts and creating a life threatening situation. It was Armstrong’s coolness under pressure, as he disengaged from the tumbling rocket and brought the capsule under control that ultimately decided who should lead what had all the potential to be the most dangerous mission to date, the Apollo moon landing.

    After that, the moon landing was just a walk in the… moon.

  5. Cliff Burns

    And I liked the fact that he treated his fame as an imposition and always tried to maintain his dignity in the face of his popularity. The perfect guy, in so many ways, to be “first man”.

  6. Mike Cane

    Wow, I forgot about the Gemini 8 incident. Wasn’t that covered up for years? Also covered up was the danger of the actual 11 landing itself, with Armstrong trying to land the LEM while the fuel ran down. The revelations make them all the more brave!

  7. paviavio

    It was during the Culture Revolution at the time. Most people were crazy at the time.

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