Saturday, June 17, 2006

lunar chart

lunar chart

I can remember how the moon changed in 1969. It had always been a light in the sky, or at best a big ball that hung high above our heads. Now it suddenly was a place.
It even had a topography. Many exciting new names entered the collective consciousness. Fra Mauro, Tycho, Mare Imbrium, Mare Tranquillitatis. I could point them out on the map that hung on my wall, courtesy of BP.
I built plastic kit models of the LEM and the Apollo capsule. The complete Saturn V was sadly out of reach, financially.
My father filmed the 'splashdown' with his 8mm camera from the tv screen (in black and white, of course). Countdown, lift-off, splashdown - these must have been among the first English words that I knew. I'm sure it was the first time I encountered the word "rendezvous", and it was some years before I knew this could refer to the meeting of other things than space vehicles. The USA was as least as much an alien world as the moon.
I remember feeling that something had happened during my lifetime that would be part of world history for centuries to come, even when the rest of the 20th century would have been forgotten by non-specialists. I still believe that now. Maybe it does not look so big from 2006. It is like when you have one building in a city that is substantially higher than all the other ones. You don't see that when you are in the city itself. Maybe from many places you can not even see this building because other buildings are in the way. But when you look at the city from a distance, it clearly sticks out.

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