We Have Come A Long Way Since 1969

Editorial by David Kellin, editor@pantagraph.online

This afternoon, NASA monitored the landing of the INSIGHT lander on Mars. The voice counting down the meters had me holding my breath.  The words that “Touchdown” was confirmed, led to a massive exhale. INSIGHT was on Mars. Because of the distance, INSIGHT had already landed, but NASA was about 8 minutes delayed in getting the news.

In July of 1969, when I was seven years old another landing occurred. I watched on the black and white TV screen as Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon. It was the first NASA manned mission to land on the moon. I held my breath then also. My exhale was just as big. 

As a young boy, I became a Star Trek fan. I watched regularly every week to live in the exploits of the crew of the Enterprise. My hero was Mr. Spock. He had the answer for everything, and could remain calm through most anything. The series was canceled one month before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The transition to being a NASA fan was a natural thing. 

Landing on the moon was a pinnacle of technology in the 1960s and 70s. I imagined trips to the far reaches of space and how much food I would need to go there. I had hopes and dreams that could be accomplished regardless of the obstacles. 

NASA has landed seven items on Mars now with the INSIGHT lander. One of the reporters covering the landing asked if it was becoming a routine thing. When I think of all that has been done since the summer of 1969, it could seem routine. Mars, Venus, the Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, and beyond the solar system are just some of the missions NASA has under taken. 

To accomplish today’s feat, NASA had to launch a lander and travel over 33 million miles, slow down and land on a moving planet all with a set of predefined instructions. There were no live directions or corrections. 

Now almost 50 years since the Moon Landing, I am still amazed at the technology that is taking us into the stars. NASA has gone a long ways since the 969 landing. I am sure new adventures await. As Mr. Spock might say “Fascinating!”

Categories: Editor Thoughts

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