Apollo at 50: Former Astronaut Says Apollo’s Message Is that Man Is Not an Earth-Bound Species
July 17, 2019 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, prior to a gala event being held in Cocoa Beach, Florida to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, several former astronauts gathered to reflect on their experiences and involvement in the historic event. Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke participated in the panel.
As reported by The Orlando Sentinel, Rusty Schweickart commented “Everybody said we did it, we owned it. It was we people here on Earth. It seems to me that the real message of Apollo is that we now are evolving beyond the limits of Mother Earth.”
Duke, who worked as the capsule communicator on Apollo 11 before heading to the Moon on Apollo 16, commented that everyone was so focused on the task at hand that they didn’t stop much to contemplate its place in history. No one ever talked about how they were going to be famous when it was over. “It’s hard to believe that 50 years later, it was a really big deal. I knew it then—it was a really big deal, but not me, the program was a really big deal.”
And Schweickart added that today, replicating Apollo 11 and doing another Moon landing, will be particularly challenging. Absent will be the “backdrop of the Cold War” and the vision and leadership of a John F. Kennedy. The nation now will have to really rally around a big goal to achieve another Apollo, he stressed. “It can’t be an incremental step. It’s going to be something which taps pretty deeply into the human psyche.”
All the panel members agreed that the nation and the Congress have to align “behind the understanding that exploring space is critical for humans as a species.” As Collins put it, I” don’t want to live with a lid over my head. I want to remove that lid, I want [us to be] outward bound. That’s where I want to go.”
This week, the United States and nations around the world have organized a multitude of activities to celebrate the 1969 Moon landing. This website, https://www.moonlanding50.org/, lists activities occurring in at least 124 countries.
In Washington, a full-scale image of the Saturn V rocket is being shown on the Washington Monument for three days this week. Ellen Stotan, director of the Air and Space Museum, called the Washington Monument “a symbol of our collective national achievements and what we can and will achieve in the future. It took 400,000 people from across 50 states to make Apollo a reality. This program celebrates them, and we hope it inspires generations too young to have experienced Apollo firsthand to define their own moonshot.”
July 19 and 20, a 17-minute presentation will take place by the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, entitled “Apollo 50: Go to the Moon” event.