Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magnificent Desolation

Source: NASA

The Partnerin and I were watching one of the many tribute segments on the news marking the 40th Anniversary of the first lunar landing, and when Neil Armstrong uttered his famous little speech, she asked, "Did he write that himself?"

"Well," I replied, " I've heard that it was written by a team, and that he botched the delivery by leaving out 'a', as in 'one small step for a man ...' and I've heard that he thought it up himself. I don't know which is true."

"Magnificent desolation" was uttered by Buzz Aldrin, pictured here, the second man on the Moon in response to Armstrong's comment that there was a 'magnificent view out here' on the surface of the Moon. That comment has always been the more powerful one for me.

Buzz and the other 11, Armstrong included, inspired me to become an aerospace engineer, then a pilot, then to join the Air Force and to reach for the stars. But as the space program wound down to a day-to-day wimper, I opted to go on to a career on Wall Street and somehow later to find my way over to Germany. One small step for a man, one giant leap for an American, one might say.

Armstrong was no slouch, but Aldrin was by far the more accomplished astronaut. One account had it that Armstrong was chosen to be the first on the Moon because he didn't have a large ego. The other, more official account at the time, was that for Aldrin to get out he would have had to clmb over the top of Armstrong at the risk of damaging the Ascent Module of the Lunar Module on his way out the door. Given years of experience with big egos in large governmental organizsations, my own included, I would tend to believe the first story to more the case.

The most sobering thought about there being 40 years since the first Lunar landing is the fact that there have been nearly 37 years since the last. Historians 1000 years or so from now will look back and ask why a nation that had walked on the Moon only 40 years before had descended into insanity and inanity just a few decades later. I wish I knew the answer to that one myself.

The biggest mistake NASA made was to not seed the samples with traces of gold or diamonds, and thereby the case for further manned space exploration was lost for at least three generations or more. My bet is on the Chinese being the next to walk there, and you can bet they are going to be there to stay.

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