Monday, July 16, 2007

The liftoff of Apollo 11

I found this video on YouTube of the liftoff of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, the mission that put the first humans on the surface of the moon.

This must have been an amazing sight for those who saw the Saturn V rocket lift off into the skies over Cape Canaveral. I've heard that watching a rocket this big take off is something you see and feel. The engine sound is so loud that it shakes the ground like an earthquake. The fire and smoke plume from the engines are visible from miles away.

When I watch this video, I try to place myself in the moment as an wide-eyed kid watching science fiction become real, or an older person who might have remembered the first flight of the Wright Brothers.

The excitement of the launch started even before Apollo 11 fired up its engines. As the countdown clock marked the seconds before liftoff, viewers had to contemplate that this machine sitting on the pad contained three men who were going to the moon. After years of testing and designing space hardware, this was the day.

I wonder if another generation will ever see a sight like this again and feel the same awe. We are more jaded about the promises of science and space travel. Memories of Apollo missions are sometimes painful, reflecting on the past lofty dreams of space travel with a current humble reality.

But there are still engineers and dreamers who are inspired by the past, and they have plans for their own spacebound ambitions.

One day, I hope I get to see a trail of fire against a blue sky with my own eyes, while the ground rumbles beneath my feet.

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