Thirty-Eight Years Ago Today.
“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
At 02:56 GMT, July 21, 1969 astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke those words and placed the first footprint in the lunar dust of the Sea of Tranquility some six hours after touching down the Lunar Module Eagle on the surface. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin departed barely fifteen hours later with about 45 pounds of lunar samples, leaving this plaque attached to one leg of the descent stage of the LM:
Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were followed by five successful and one unsuccessful missions. On December 14, 1972 as Eugene Cernan climbed back aboard Challenger for the last time, leaving the last human footprint in the lunar dust, he said:
As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I’d like to just say what I believe history will record — that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.
It’s been too long.