NASA/Michael Collins (id as11-44-6626)
50 years ago today, millions watched grainy images of Neil Armstrong descend down the ladder of the lunar module. With a final push, Armstrong fell to the surface of the moon, becoming the first human to walk on the Moon, and uttered those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
While the moon walks are the first things to come to mind when recalling the Apollo missions, their impact extended beyond the moon. The Apollo missions created a need for technologies that revolutionized our world, which eventually led to the device you are using to read this article. The missions also produced stunning images of our planet, leading to environmental movements and conservation efforts to protect our only home. Perhaps most importantly, the Apollo missions were a springboard for our other explorations, including landing multiple rovers on Mars, landing a probe on a comet, sending a probe to Pluto, and even sending the Voyagers into interstellar space.
As we reflect on the historic achievements of the Apollo program, we must remember that it all started with a vision and broad support from public and private entities. In order to tackle the problems of our age, we must adopt a similar strategy. Just as reversing climate change may seem impossible today, landing a man on the moon was once seen as impossible. And yet, 50 years ago today, we did just that.