Thursday, July 24, 2008
Back home again.
On July 24, 1969, Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after a mission duration of 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, and 35 seconds.
The race to the moon was over.
President Kennedy's challenge had been answered with resounding success.
The greatest technological achievement in human history was, well, history.
The moonshot was an amazing feat of brilliance, courage, ingenuity, and dedication.
I was reading James Oberg's "Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the US-Russian Space Alliance" and he mentioned something I had never before considered. The Apollo program gave Russia (and the world) a healthy fear of the technological abilities of the U.S.
In the Introduction, he quotes space scientist Paul Spudis:
"Here's Apollo's legacy: Any technological challenge America undertakes, it can accomplish. The reason this legacy had concurrency was the success of Apollo. We had attempted, and successfully achieved a technical goal - one so difficult and demanding, that it made virtually any similar goal seem equally achievable."
There you have it. America didn't just get a few thousand pounds of moon rocks and some nice pictures for the cover of Life magazine. America got technological credibility with the world, and that's something you can't put a price on.