"We choose to go to the moon..." J. F. K. Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

The whole of the World's population in July 1969 minus 1
 And they did: today 50 years ago. Apollo 11 blasted off on top of a Saturn rocket with the explosive power of a small nuclear bomb. A couple of days later 3 spacemen were circling the moon getting ready for two of them to descend to the lunar surface in a ridiculously flimsy Lunar Excursion Module (LEM).

I've been listening to the World Service's 13 Minutes to the Moon a series of 10 pod casts tracing the history of the American adventure to the Moon from Kennedy's famous speech to the lunar landing. It was absorbing listening. There was so much I'd forgotten or not known about, all brought to life with recordings, of the events and participants as well as interviews with the surviving astronauts and scientists, technicians and administrators who saw Kennedy's vision realised. 

It's tempting to contrast the eloquence of Kennedy with the street fighter's language of Trump. The irony is that Trump and his supporters appear to yearn for America's glory days epitomised by the US winning the Space Race, when it seemed everything American was envied or admired. The truth was the US in 1969 was as much at war with itself as it appears to be now. Then it was the young against the old, the Blacks against the entrenched White authority, Gays on the march and the military force of America against much of the Far East.

Yet, and yet that July adventure 50 years ago, when the culmination of the efforts of 1 million people put three vulnerable humans in orbit around, and two on the surface of the moon, still resonantes as an astonishing achievement. Not just of the USA but of humanity. 

At this 50th anniversary it is a joy to see and hear Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins talking about those events so long ago.  A shame Neil Armstrong can't be here to join in the celebrations.


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