We choose the Earth

Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong, 20th July 1969.

When I was alive, people walked on the surface of the Moon. I came into the world in 1972, so missed the first landing by Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin in July 1969. But in the year of my birth two missions traveled to the Moon, with the last one, Apollo 17, returning to Earth on 19th December.

Today, it seems like science fiction that 41 years ago people traveled nearly a quarter of a million miles to live on the Moon for three days. When they returned to Earth not only were the crew of Apollo 17 the last humans to journey to the Moon, they were also the last to venture further than a couple of hundred miles from the Earth.

President Kennedy, Rice, Texas, 1962.

What makes the moon landings even more astonishing, is that the goal was achieved less than 10 years after Kennedy’s now famous speech in Rice, Texas, 1962 in which he gave an impassioned argument for why the challenge of landing a person on the surface of the Moon and then returning them safely to the Earth should be chosen above others at that time. Continue reading