Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.
So reads the plaque left by the crew of Apollo 11 when humans first set foot on The Moon. To many this is just something that happened in the past, momentous to be sure, but lacking a physical connection to the pure excitement and exhilaration of what was happening before their eyes. People gathered far and wide, all over the world to watch this event and truly brought us together as a unified people. As part of the tokens left behind, a disk containing good will messages from 73 countries was left behind. For a brief moment in time the world was truly at peace with itself and united for a greater purpose. Neil Armstrong himself stressed that this was not just an accomplishment of himself or the United States, but of the entire world.
What many don’t know though, is how close to disaster the moon landing came to. During the descent due to an unintended amount of data coming in from the landing radar, the computer became overloaded and was unable to process all its commands in real time. This forced the astronauts to bring the craft in manually. Common ideas of the moon paint a picture of gentle landscapes of nice soft dust, and low gravity. The reality of the landing put the lander in a fairly rocky area, and even with lower gravity, a misstep could have destroyed or crippled the lander. Despite all this the lander touched down successfully with only about 25 seconds of fuel left. With landing out of the way, and despite a lack of sleep, Armstrong and Aldrin exited the lander and set foot on the moon with Armstrong uttering the now instantly recognizable line “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” Aldrin would add to this describing the view as “Magnificent desolation.”
Fast forward 40 years. Humankind is once again working both together in space on the International Space Station, and several nations are working towards returning to the moon. Will future expeditions be made in the same spirit of peace and cooperation as the first moon landing? Only time will tell, but hopefully Armstrong’s achievement will be regarded as the event that helped shape the course of human history into the following centuries.