48 years ago this July, Apollo 11 blasted off on it’s three day journey to the moon. On July 21st 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon. Mankind looked on in awe. It was the dawn of a new era, heralding in what was to be a fantastic voyage of discovery that started with the moon, moved to Mars and beyond and eventually further into our solar system and perhaps even journeying to neighbouring star systems.
Fast forward to 1972 and the Apollo 17 mission which saw astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernon walk on the moon. They were the 11th and 12th men to explore the surface of the moon. This December will mark 45 years since they left the lunar surface. Unfortunately man hasn’t been back to the moon, nor have we landed humans on any other celestial body since.
In spite of the huge advances in technology and the massive engineering steps we have taken, the furthest humans have been from earth since the days of the Apollo missions has been low earth orbit and regular stops at the International Space Station, with a few Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions thrown in for good measure. A mere celestial hop at 540 km from Earth.
China is making some noises about manned lunar missions and NASA seem to have been given a shake by Donald Trump and it will be interesting to see if their plans pan out. The next couple of years will reveal a lot. It would be great to have the excitement of manned missions to the moon especially for those of us who weren’t around to witness the first ones.