"The Eagle has landed...That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." -- Neil Armstrong.
Forty years ago today, on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission launched three astronauts on their journey to the Moon, where they safely landed on July 20 and then returned to Earth. Despite some conspiracy theorists who continue to claim that the lunar landing was a hoax, this event continues to be for many one of the defining moments in human achievement.
Mankind's journey to the Moon is an example of what we as a species can accomplish. It made science fiction a reality. How many times have we heard the phrase, "We can put a man on the Moon but we can't (insert here anything people say they can't do)"? It sparked a generation to believe that nothing is impossible.
Sadly, various incidents have turned our culture into skeptics, underachievers, and jaded citizens who have lost faith in the institutions and the human spirit that drove us to the Moon in the first place. After five additional manned lunar missions, the Apollo program was terminated, despite plans for three additional missions (budget cuts being the primary cause, as NASA shifted its focus toward the Space Shuttle program).
Now, there's talk of another trip to Luna as part of a more ambitious manned trip to planet Mars. Hopefully, the world can draw on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 to inspire and motivate further adventures of discovery and historic achievement.