Before you get excited, no, I was not an Apollo astronaut but I wanted to be one during the Apollo Moon missions. I was five years old 50 years ago today when I watched the television broadcast of Neal Armstrong taking the first step on the moon. Armstrong was the first of 12 people who have walked on the moon. There were six moon mission during the Apollo program between 1969 to 1972. The last person on the moon was Eugene Cernan. He was on Apollo 17 which was the last mission to the moon. The last spacecraft to reach the moon was an Israeli private spacecraft Beresheet which launched from Cape Canaveral with the intention of a soft landing but contact was lost with the spacecraft and it crashed onto the moon on April 11, 2019.
When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would immediately and enthusiastically tell them that I wanted to be an astronaut. I was obsessed with the Apollo missions. When Tang came out with the fact that the astronauts drank this powder drink on their missions, I had to have it. That’s all I would drink. When Tang later had a lunar rover toy attached to the jar, I was not happy until my parents bought it for me.
I watched each mission with complete awe. Even two years ago when we visited the Space and Rocket center near Huntsville, Alabama, I felt the same excitement when I saw one of the Apollo Command capsules and even some of the moon rocks.
Of course, there are some who cast doubt on whether we actually went to the moon or not. I think some people just want to be haters and spin the ridiculous conspiracy theories. It’s a big stretch to think it was all a hoax.
It is also amazing how the technology compares between now and what was available during the Apollo missions. I have read that the technology in Nintendo game systems now are more advanced that what was used on the Apollo missions. It makes me wonder now how much grander a moon mission could be if it was supported like it was in the Apollo days. The moon missions back then were just as patriotic as anything could be. There was a push to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. The United States got caught up in it. There’s not so much of a rally for it now. NASA doesn’t really have the funding so it has become a question as to whether private funding will ever get us back to the moon or anything more.
Whatever the case may be, it won’t ever be like the Apollo Moon missions.
I never achieved my childhood claims that I would become an astronaut. Those hopes were dashed when I was 10 when my mother said if I couldn’t ride the Great American Scream Machine rollercoaster at Six Flags over Georgia that I could never be an astronaut. Well, at some point later I did ride the Scream Machine but I never made it to the astronaut program.
I don’t think we will ever experience the same excitement for the space program as we did back then. I still get excited about space stuff and whatever NASA is doing. Even 50 years later, today’s 50th anniversary of the first steps on the moon still brings back that excitement.