Back in the 1960’s I read quite a bit about the men (and their deeds ) who devoted their lives to the building of rockets. Starting with the infamous V2 rockets that wandered across Europe landing in British cities with a band, death and destruction, to the men who were ‘rescued’ from working for the Nazis and spirited off to the USA to work there on improving these rockets. Being an English speaker I did not have much access to any information about the Russians who worked on similar efforts.
The romance of men who wanted to go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and who worked on the means to do so, pushing their objects further and further out. The excitement of reading of the pilots who discovered that if you flew high enough, standard daylight changed and you could see the black universe with stars twinkling, beckoning like sirens, luring men to travel and explore
Following step by step on the radio and in the newspapers (we did not have television as the conservative government of the day deemed that it would corrupt us) the progress of the space race. Sputnik, that rather scary Russian device that popped out of the atmosphere and went tootling around ABOVE the sky. The first dog, monkey, human in space. Oh how I envied them!
I hadn’t yet encountered Star Trek, the words “To boldly go where no man has been before” yet they resonated with me through all of these adventures.
Then in my final year at school, the BIG attempt. To put men on the moon.
The moon, so close we can see features on it, so far we hadn’t managed to get there yet.
For us that fateful evening, the radio reports on what was happening. The words “The Eagle has landed” first intimations that men would walk on another body in the universe. Oh how thrilling. Then the crackly report of Niel Armstrongs words “One small step for man, one large step for mankind” to me THE most romantic words of my lifetime.
Later on the news at the drive-in, seeing the men in spacesuits hopping along over the moon’s surface, their oh-so-large heads because of their helmets making them seem almost non-human. I was entranced.
Then men landed again on the moon, in a different place and again went hopping all over, picking up bits of rock to bring home, as I had collected sea-shells as a child to remind me of holidays in places quite different from home.
Then we stopped going to the moon. A sort of been-there-done-it mood settled on mankind.
But still they remain on the moon. Those footprints. Evidence that once there were men who landed there, walked about in leaps and bounds because the gravity let us do so. With insufficient atmosphere to create breezes and winds to smooth them away, there they will remain , silent reminders of man’s first steps somewhere other than Earth, until the actions of large and small particles hitting the moon obliterates them.
I wonder, will we have left human footprints on another planet by the time those footprints have faded to nothing?