In the midst of the space race, Hereward Lester Cooke, the former co-director of the NASA Art Program, observed, “Space travel started in the imagination of the artist.”
Many people who are old enough to have experienced the first moon landing will vividly remember what it was like watching Neil Armstrong utter his famous quote: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”. Half a century later, the event is still one of the top achievements of humankind. Despite the rapid technological advances since then, astronauts haven’t actually been back to the moon since 1972.
“How about that package out of your sleeve? Get that?” is certainly not the most famous phrase uttered by a human while on the Moon. And the items nestled in a small packet that astronaut Buzz Aldrin had stowed in the pocket just below the shoulder of his extravehicular mobility unit were certainly not mission critical. They were sentimental objects, intended to be left on the Moon purely for symbolic and commemorative purposes.
“Dream the impossible – and go out and make it happen. I walked on the moon. What can’t you do?” These are the final words spoken by Eugene (Gene) Cernan in the documentary film The Last Man on the Moon. They are a challenge, spoken by a man in his 80s, not just to his grandchildren, but to all of us.
Crashing into a planet is seldom a good idea. If you’re trying to travel to another world, you’re likely to land at tens of kilometres per second unless you do something serious to slow down. When Neil Armstrong famously became the first man on the moon in 1969, he piloted a lunar module onto the surface using thrusters that slowed the craft’s descent.