I was three years old when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. I'm one of the lucky ones who can say they were alive when man first walked on the moon. Fewer than half of Americans can say that. According the Census Bureau, the median age of Americans is about 37 years old. Humans are relational creatures and it is hard to relate to something you weren't part of.
That is the hidden treasure of exploration... We were all part of it. Exploration is such a part of the human soul that we all took that one small step with Neil Armstrong when he put his footprint onto the lunar surface. Even if our "memories" of the event were imprinted later.
Everyone knows Neil Armstrong. He is a former Naval Aviator. He flew fighter jets during the Korean War. For NASA, he flew the X-15, Gemini 8 and, of course, Apollo 11. Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon at age 39.
Anyone know who Chris Cassidy is? He's also 39, a former Naval Aviator and an astronaut. He is the 500th human to make it to space. He got that honor when Space Shuttle Endeavour launched last week for a mission to the International Space Station.
I'm a huge fan of space exploration. It's what great nations do. The cool thing about the Apollo program is that it was dangerous, difficult and expensive. And we did it anyway. Now, we're struggling to find our way in space and all the difficulties of exploring are still there and we have earthly troubles to which people can relate to more immediately. The folks at the Coalition for Space Exploration released this great video commemorating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. It's definitely worth a look.
Some of my best friends work for the space program. I do a lot of really fun work with companies that are part of it and I've even done a few projects for NASA.
The fact that Astronaut Cassidy isn't a household name doesn't make his work less important. The fact that Shuttle Endeavour's mission isn't as breathtaking as the first lunar landing doesn't mean it's not a worthy mission.
Not every baseball game is a World Series Game 7.
You still have to play them all.
Let's keep America in Space.