Moon dust #1 walking on the moon

How many of you were alive when the first moon landing happened in 1969? How many of you are old enough to remember it? Where were you at the time?

File:Apollo 11 first step.jpg
Neil Armstrong (1930–2012), commander of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, descends the ladder of the Apollo Lunar Module to become the first human to set foot on the surface of the Moon.

Who can remember the names from the first moon landing? The first one is easy – Neil Armstrong, the second? Buzz Aldrin. And the guy who was left to man the ship that hovered above the surface? Michael Collins.

I feel sorry for him, he performed something that no other human being had ever done before but no one can remember his name because he is overshadowed by just two men. His job was incredibly difficult as it was but he didn’t do that half of it because the ‘what if’ scenarios didn’t happen. There was of course the what if scenario that the moon landing wouldn’t work. He had special training in which he had to prepare for Armstrong and Aldrin not to come back and then he would have to fly the ship back to earth alone.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, standing on the Moon
Buzz Aldrin (pictured) walked on the Moon with Neil Armstrong, on Apollo 11, July 20–21, 1969.

What about the names of any of the other men who have since been on the moon? There are 10 more. Pete Conrad (CDR, Apollo 12) Alan Bean (LMP, Apollo 12) Alan Shepard (CDR, Apollo 14) Edgar Mitchell (LMP, Apollo 14) David Scott (CDR, Apollo 15) James Irwin (LMP, Apollo 15) John Young (CDR, Apollo 16) Charles Duke (LMP, Apollo 16) Eugene Cernan (CDR, Apollo 17) Harrison Schmitt (LMP, Apollo 17).

I’m reading a book called Moon Dust which is about a guy who tries to interview every man who has physically stood on the moon before they all die. Reading about it, the first moon landing seems like an incredible experience not only for the men up there but also for everyone else. Crowds of people in the living rooms of those who could afford a television and not one single person knew what those two men would find up there. I mean, there were theories that the whole thing was made of dust and the landing module would just sink and never come out. So everyone was watching excited that this was something that had never been done before but nervous that it could all end up as a disaster. Maybe there were horrible alien creatures on the dark side of the moon that would come rushing into the light to devour our poor heroes! Of course, that didn’t happen. The moon was solid and devoid of any life and the space craft returned.

But the main point I want to think about is the fact that every astronaut who went to the moon came back and their lives essentially fell apart. They were suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Most of their marriages ended in divorce. These men had been at the pinnacle of the human race and were now realising that there was nothing else left to look forward to. Nothing would be as exciting, nothing would be as exhilarating as what they had just done. And only a handful of people knew what that was like, nobody else could relate to their experiences. What do you class as exciting when you’ve stood on the moon?

In Ecclesiastes chapter 2, Solomon feels the same way.

Verse 4 – “I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards, I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. [I built rockets and spaceships and I went to the moon.]”

Verse 11 – “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

If you think of the hours these men spent in dedicated training, the danger they were prepared to put themselves through, the anguish they were willing to put their families through, what did it really achieve? To get one over on the Soviets? To get some rocks? To fulfil curiosity and scientific endeavour? All of which may have been important to lesser and greater degrees, but compared with the cost, not just financially, but emotionally and psychologically, it doesn’t seem as though it was worth it. Why has there been no one else since Eugene Cernan in 1972 to walk on the moon?

Because it’s not worth the cost…Or it was all a hoax, but we won’t go down that road.

Simon Peel

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