Monday, July 20, 2009

We choose THE MOON

'We choose THE MOON'. I heard these words from John F. Kennedy over 40 years ago. And it was unbelievable. Except, that it was the President of the United States saying this. And we'd better believe him. He set the agenda, and, as we all know, on this very day forty years ago 'the Eagle has landed' on the moon.

It is one of the dates in my life I can remember exactly. I was actually meant to be on a small airfield near La Chaux-de-Fonds attending flight school. But, due to some strange reasons, all of my three colleagues had decided to leave the course and therefore it was stopped. I would go back to another course in August only for the rest of the flight training leading to the private pilot's licence.

Thus I was at home in my summer college vacation with plenty of time. This allowed me to follow the full TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission's approach to the lunar orbit and the moon landing, which can now be followed again on the web. There were a lot of explanations by our Swiss commentator Bruno Stanek. Everything was very thrilling as in the ex-ante situation it was not for sure, that things would work out so well. The characteristic noises of the communication between Houston and the astronauts were the messengers of superiority of American technology, of the American 'can do' mentality, of the ingenious achievement of this huge project team.

Finally, the Apollo 11 crew succeeded, Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle, and the names of the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins would become unforgettable for my generation and immortal for the memory of mankind. We admired their courage, their perseverance, their will to go to the limits. Many young guys like me were fascinated by the technology and we re-planned our career objectives. I choose to become an engineer and an airforce pilot.

In the middle of the night CET the whole family got up to watch the first steps of a man on the moon. And Neil Armstrong's words while stepping down from the lunar module as the first human being on the surface of the moon were imprinted into our minds forever: 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'. Today and tomorrow we commemorate this awesome event with its effects far beyond technology. Still fascinating to look at the pictures again and a lot of memories, like this little story of a kid saving the mission, about a very exciting and remarkable day of our life.