40 Years and they still want to moonwalk!

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Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were the team on Apollo 11 that were the first to physically land on the moon.  This occurred on July 20th, 1969.  Many reading this……were not even born yet.  For those that never got into the “Space Thing”….this was strictly a JFK Program in response to the first manned circumnavigation of the planet by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.  JFK wanted the USA to land a man on the moon before the end of the 60’s.  In a great race….on the very day of the moon landing, the Russian Luna 15 was trying upstage our efforts and crashed that day on the moon.  Apollo 11 prevailed and it was “Mission Accomplished” Mr. President!

What is interesting through all of the “Space Race” between the Russians and the USA…..were all the nay sayers.  “Who needs teflon?”….”Who needs computers?”…..”Who needs kevlar?”…….”Who needs to go to the moon when we have starving people right here on earth?”…..”Who cares that the Russians take-over Space?”……all issues that determined after a variety of following NASA failures….including the movie about Apollo 13…..that mankind’s hero  vision of space travel to Mars and beyond with Astronauts……….was to be greatly downsized.

400,000 Americans were employed by and through NASA and the US Government for our “Man to the Moon Program”.  Those were days when “circular flow of wealth” was considered a viable concept.  Those are days when “competitive advantage” didn’t mean “outsourcing” American jobs or manufacturing.  Those were the days when someone from “anytown USA” could walk into a local machine shop….and have that old guy with the failing eyesight….build you anything from the ground up.  “Craftsmen” they used to call them.

For those that are old enough, do you remember where you were on July 20th, 1969?  Do you recall the world pride?  Do you recall what a remarkable adventure it had been since 1956….when “Sputnik” and our own “Telestar” were all the talk, along with various “Alien Sightings”, Reported “Alien Abductions”, “Project Blue Book”?

In 1961, we were working at the Downey plant of North American Aviation, at the Space and Information Division.  Laying up impregnated fiberglass on a mold which created the Apollo capsule heat shield.  By July of 1967, we were at then Cape Kennedy, Florida….working as a “non-degreed EO Engineeer”….previously as a “Space Vehicle Test Mechanic”.  The tragic deaths of Vigil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967 almost ended the dream.  Project Director Joe Shay…told us: “This may be the end of the whole deal.”

Jan. 27, Apollo 1: a fire aboard the space capsule on the ground at Cape Kennedy, Fla., killed astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger Chaffee.”

Those following tragedies of “Challenger” January 28, 1986, “Columbia” February 1st, 2003…imprint the dangers of Space Flight.  Manned by people..and machines – all of which can fail!  Our suggestion is not to do much in late January or early February…when the weather is cold in Florida.  Even sometimes in April: Apollo 13 launched on April 11th, 1970…which Tom Hanks made famous.  Luckily our successes have outweighed our failures.  The good news if you can call it that….is that the Russians had more failures than we did.

Having been drafted into the US Army in July of 1967….we missed all of those fun launch parties at the Cape……and by July 20th, 1969….we had just been Separated from the US Army in Europe on July 13th…..and was traveling through Yugoslavia.  We had arrived on the Dalmation coast at a small seaside village called Primostens.  The last US Citizens to visit there …had been eight years before.  The place was loaded with Russian tour buses and was basically a stopover spot to give the Russian tourists a place to swim and grab a bite to eat before they continued on to the historic city of Dubrovnik!

We showed up not knowing about the moon landing.  But in a Yugoslavian village of not more that 2,000 people…with no TV….they did!  As soon as they found out we were Americans, they rolled out the red carpet and the Mayor invited us for a big public dinner and festival.  We wound up staying in Primostens for 10 days, teaching water skiing to the Russian tourists and making a few bucks in the process…..until the Regional Commissar heard about us….and we left quickly for Dubrovnik.  The Moon Landing was a very big deal and people in every small village in the world knew about it.  In a time of the Vietnam War…to hear people talk about “Americans as heroes” was shocking.

Buzz Aldrin wants us to go to Mars!  Neil Armstrong still thinks there are Alien sightings!  And Michael Collins has found God!


Congratulations to the 400,000 that participated in this great American adventure!  It changed all of our lives forever.  What will be the next great expedition?  This last 40 years….went too quick……and now doing another Moonwalk seems to understate what our current expectations might be.  Been there and done that!  So, what do we do for an encore?  While we think about that……..Congratulations USA…..we did good on that first one!

About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk show...is the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.