474: Look! Up in the sky! It’s Apollo 11 —still lifting our hopes and dreams

If you were alive 40 years ago, the good news of reaching the Moon was as indelible as the bad news of the 1960s like JFK’s assassination. In fact, for millions of us, the first steps on the Moon felt almost like a revival of the Kennedy spirit of relentless confidence in our human potential.
    So, today, if you haven’t done so already—pause in a moment of awe, prayer and general spiritual reflection over the stunning achievement of human beings (envision scientists with slide rules!!) sending Americans into a whole new realm of our solar system.
    This wasn’t just a celebration of human achievement. Apollo 11 flipped our cosmic consciousness around, sending back images like those photos of a tiny blue Earth in a vast dark sky with the Moon as our new “horizon line.” Suddenly, our home looked so small, so fragile, so beautiful—and so precious!

    TODAY, courtesy of Stephanie Fenton’s weekly Spiritual Season column—and some tips sent in by readers this week—here are some wonderful online resources to check out!
    FIRST comes from reader Rick Barron in Dallas, Texas, who says he once “made all the plastic models of the Apollo mission I could get my hands on with my proceeds from a newspaper route. And, yes, I hung them from fishing line from the ceiling of my room. And, yes, I had stars and planets up on the ceiling, too. … And, yes, I laid there at night and looked up and dreamed.”
    Rick spotted a “can’t-wait-to-try-it-this-week Web show” produced by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
    I agree with Rick, a high-school teacher: “I’m depressed some mornings to check the news and I don’t think this anniversary is just fluff. Maybe we can get back some of that spirit that said we could do anything even if all we had to do our math were these strips of wood strapped to our belts.” (Rick is referring to the slide rules there.)


    The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Web site is hosting a very cool multimedia presentation “real time plus 40 years” of the launch of Apollo 11 and the whole mission to the Moon and back. The rocket launches on the morning of July 16, just as it did back in 1969. Here’s the TABLE OF CONTENTS of Kennedy Library offerings related to the Apollo anniversary.
    Then, the actual “real time” Apollo 11 simulation is at a separate site called www.WeChooseTheMoon.org.


Here’s the news item from Stephanie Fenton’s weekly Spiritual Season column:
    JULY 16 marks the anniversary … 40 years ago
when Americans began craning their necks in the hope of spotting some sign
of Apollo 11 up in the skies. That’s the day when the Kennedy Space
Center sent its first rocket into space with a mission to land on the
     NASA shares some of that dramatic history. Plus, there are some stirring NASA images you can download.
At 9:32 a.m. EDT, thousands of spectators watched as Neil A. Armstrong,
Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin rocketed into space. Upon
landing on the moon, the report was: “The Eagle has landed.” The three
astronauts had trained together for months prior to the space mission,
and Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin “walked” the surface of the Moon,
gathering samples and conducting experiments, while Michael Collins
remained in the Command Module.
    A former US Naval Aviator, Armstrong was command pilot of the Gemini 8 before becoming mission commander of Apollo 11. Once on the moon during his Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong immediately began collecting samples and conducting experiments—in case the mission had to be aborted quickly—but unhurriedly was able to finish his experimentation 2.5 hours later. Since the Apollo 11 flight with fellow astronauts Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Armstrong has received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
    For a biography of Armstrong from NASA, visit this NASA site.

    Smithsonian Magazine offers a great firsthand account,
written by a man who was assigned to cover the Apollo 11 launch 40
years ago. You’ll even see his photo of Americans—craning their necks
skyward on that day.
    While the launch of Apollo 11 was viewed by
citizens across the country, there are some people who still believe
the astronauts never walked on the Moon. Conspiracy theorists argue
that the landing was filmed in a studio, while NASA argues against the
points made by theorists. What do you think? First, here’s a point-by-point outline of the conspiracy theory. Then, here’s a NASA rebuttal of those claims. Together, the two Web pages make fascinating reading.

    Months ago, ReadTheSpirit recommended a beautiful new picture book on the landing—”Footprints on the Moon”—in this article about three ways to make fresh connections with our world.
    Whatever you believe about Apollo 11, NASA recently announced plans to prepare for another lunar mission. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted detailed photographs of the surface of the Moon, in preparation for further exploration.


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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