Robin Hart: Memories of Apollo 11 landing
It was an afternoon in Los Angeles, California, on July 20, 1969. I was 15 years old at the time, and my dad, mom, sister, brother and I were huddled around our small black and white TV in the den, tuned in to the live broadcast of the historic event taking place that day.
We watched and listened with great trepidation as NASA was sending the world the astronauts’ transmission from the lunar module, and they were calling out their elevation changes, as the spacecraft descended toward the surface of the moon and into history. We all gave out a great sigh of relief as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sent the first message home “Tranquility Base Here”. They had made a safe landing in the Sea of Tranquility. We were all so exited that we took a bunch of pots and pans, and went outside the house and started banging them in celebration.
My father was an enthusiastic fan of the space program and wanted the family to share in this too. So it was not unusual for him (in the days before TV recording devices) to wake us up in the middle of the night to watch the launches of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.
We waited as the astronauts prepared to leave the LEM and climb down onto the lunar surface. First Neil Armstrong descended down the ladder, and as he touched the ground, uttered the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin followed after and we watched as the two men moved about in the low lunar gravity collecting samples and planting the American flag near the spacecraft.
Then it was time for them to launch back into orbit and rendezvous with Michael Collins in the command module. It all went pretty seamlessly and the two spacecraft became one, as the LEM docked with the command module. Then they maneuvered to do a return trip back to Earth.
I will never forget that day and I can say that the American space program launched me on my own artistic trajectory, as a space artist by the time I attended college a few years later.
I am sad that it has now been 50 years since that fateful day in July, and can only hope that in the near future, we will put a permanent base on the moon and move beyond Earth orbit to spread out to Mars and the rest of the solar system.
Robin Hart lives in Grass Valley.
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