Moon Man

On July 20 1969 I was in the middle of the Atlantic.

On a ship, you understand. Together with over 700 other schoolchildren (I was 16) on the SS Uganda, taking part in a two-week educational cruise that took in the Azores, Madeira, Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Casablanca (I was  already a fan of the Bogart film, which just added to the sense of adventure). There are stories…

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the surface of the moon, the BBC live broadcast came across the ship’s PA. I can’t honestly say we all looked at each other with a wild surmise, like stout Cortez, but there was a sense of a beginning.

Apollo 13 came, with all its amazing high drama (again I followed it live  on the BBC). And all too soon the final mission to the moon, only three and a half years after Apollo 11.

Whether or not humanity returns to Earth’s own satellite, and the planets – and explores further out into the universe – I feel privileged to have been around when that first step was taken. I was already an SF fan, already aware of huge vistas (I’d read DUNE a year earlier, the first of 20 or more reads since). 

And of the necessities of the planet we inhabit – which become ever more urgent…

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