Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeling a little gloomy on Moon Day

It was on this day, 43 years ago, that a human being first left footprints on a heavenly body other than Earth. Thus, today is Moon Day.

I'm just finding it hard to celebrate. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are old men now -- not yet as old as John Glenn (I hope you did celebrate his birthday this week) but it's 40 years and counting since anyone has been to the Moon. Here's the complete list (complete with links to Wikipedia entries on each astronaut and mission):

Name Mission EVA dates
1 Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 July 20, 1969
2 Buzz Aldrin
3 Pete Conrad Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969
4 Alan Bean
5 Alan Shepard Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971
6 Edgar Mitchell
7 David Scott Apollo 15 July 31–August 2, 1971
8 James Irwin
9 John W. Young Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972
10 Charles Duke
11 Eugene Cernan Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972
12 Harrison Schmitt

In all the years since, we've flown no higher than the International Space Station. Yes, it is a remarkable achievement to build even a small outpost that's technically in Outer Space -- but the ISS is in Low Earth Orbit -- it's just camping in Earth's backyard compared to the wonders that lie before us.

You probably didn't know this, but a new crew just arrived on the Space Station -- launched from Kazakhstan on July 14. Yes, the new crew includes one American, CAPT Sunita L. Williams, U.S.N. Williams flew to the Space Station from Russia because we have no operational manned spacecraft in the United States today.

Today. Moon Day.

What went wrong?

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