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Monday, July 20, 2009

small step, giant leap

Forty years ago today I was at my grandparents' house. The whole family gathered around the television to watch Neil Armstrong step out of the lunar module onto the surface of Earth's only natural satellite. My Dad kept telling me what a historic event this was.

I don't remember a bit of it. I was only ten months old. I do remember the house, though, and I am able to recreate the entire scene in my mind.

I was only four years old when Apollo 17 made the last of the six U.S. manned moon landings, but growing up in the 1970s I was captivated by the wonders of space exploration.

Today, as a professional computer programmer, I am amazed at how NASA managed to accomplish so much with such primitive technology.

But the wonder and amazement is tempered by the reality that in the last 36 1/2 years, we've never made it back to the moon. This wistful quote is attributed to science fiction author Jerry Pournelle:

I always knew I'd live to see the first man walk on the Moon. I never dreamed I'd see the last.

I sincerely hope we haven't seen the last.

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