So: Today’s been pretty crap, huh? The news is depressing; the weather is miserable. However, in the spirit of last night’s event at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, we’d like to take this moment to remind everyone that today is, in fact, the 43rd anniversary of humanity taking its first steps on the moon.
Naturally, there are many celebrations scattered about the Internet. At 11:51 p.m, tonight, Kottke will rebroadcast Walter Cronkite’s coverage of the historic event. Here’s a nice personal remembrance of the Apollo 11 program. Here’s a listicle of moon-related iOS games, because why not. In the event you’d like to feel a uneasy combination of compassion and respect for Richard Nixon, here’s the speech he planned to give if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin hadn’t made it back.
Here are some amazing images from the mission. Here is an excellent documentary that you should really watch, composed of NASA footage and interviews with most of the Apollo astronauts. (Turns out they called Mr. Aldrin “Doctor Rendezvous,” because orbital rendezvous were the only thing he ever wanted to talk about.)
And then, if I might, this Betabeat reporter would like to break with the third person to tell her own tiny, tangentially moon-related story. Neil Armstrong is, of course, famously reclusive. Unlike noted goofball Buzz Aldrin (God bless him), he doesn’t give many interviews.
However, one summer in the late 1970s, he happened to be staying at a guest ranch where my mother was working as a lifeguard. One day, she struck up a conversation with a man–Ava Garbor’s then-husband, as the story goes–“because he was one of the ones hanging around the pool.” As they chatted, my mom mentioned that she’d recently gotten her pilot’s license and had once been skydiving.
Later than evening, she was walking through the dining room when her new friend called her over. “Edye,” he told her, “I want you to meet Neil Armstrong.”
While my 21-year-old mother no doubt fished for something to say, her new friend turned to Mr. Armstrong and said, “Neil, this young lady flies airplanes, and she’s actually been skydiving before.”
Without missing a beat, the first man to ever walk on the moon looked at her and asked, “Why?“
Now, I’ve never been entirely sure whether he was simply teasing her, or whether Neil Armstrong–a former test pilot who figured they had a 50-50 chance of pulling off a successful landing on the first try, and felt confident enough to give it a go anyway–was genuinely befuddled by why someone would jump out of a perfectly good airplane, just for the thrill of it.
Either way, we like to believe that Mr. Armstrong would enjoy the unimpressed astronaut meme.