Doing the Impossible

Today is the 41st anniversary of the first person walking on the moon. Less than 8 years earlier, on September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave the “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech announcing plans to go to the Moon before the end of the decade.

What an ambitious task! Especially in retrospect. Given the technology of 48 years ago when the announcement was made and 41 years ago when Apollo 11 went to the moon, it seems like they did the impossible. We have 10 times more memory and computing power in the average smart phone today than the astronauts had on their spaceship. Can you imagine using your iPhone or BlackBerry as your only computing resource for space travel?

Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” NASA, the astronauts and their support systems believed they could achieve this monumental goal in the 1960s.

Most people alive today do not remember Apollo 11. They have grown up watching Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, etc. They think of warp drives, worm holes, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and cloaking devices as the technologies that go with space travel. Apollo 11 had none of that and yet they made it to the moon, and to me the more amazing part — they made it back to Earth safely!

Here is the launch:

And the first moon walk.

Copyright © 2009 by Victoria Young (not including video)

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