The Apollo 11 astronauts—Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin—meet with President George W. Bush in July 2004, the 35th anniversary of their historic mission. (credit: iStockphoto)
One day they will be gone
by Anthony Young
Monday, January 7, 2008
When it comes to Man’s greatest adventure, I firmly believe there can never be too many films or books dealing with project Apollo. Recently, this publication reviewed the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon (see “Review: Two Shadows on the Moon”, The Space Review, September 24, 2007). It is rare for a documentary film to achieve even limited theatrical release, so I felt fortunate being able to view this very well-done film. The film has won numerous awards already, and I hope it is nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary Film for 2007.
Watching In the Shadow of the Moon, I was struck by two things. One, why wasn’t a film like this done sooner? And two, one day all these astronauts will be gone. A number of Apollo astronauts have already passed away, and their personal recollections of their experiences of being on the Moon can never be recalled on film.
The most glaring absence of Apollo astronauts in this film is that of Neil Armstrong. He continues to uphold his personal policy of no interviews, but it would have been a tremendous boost if he had been willing to make an exception for this film. Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin were both featured prominently in this documentary.
|Will any of the original Moonwalkers be alive to witness a new generation of lunar explorers finally realizing Cernan’s hopeful declaration that we would one day return there?|
However, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing will be commemorated in July 2009. As they did for the 25th anniversary of that historic event, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins will likely gather together and participate in celebrations to mark the event. It may well be the last time the crew of Apollo 11 will be together.
Another sad fact will become glaringly evident during these commemorative events. Nearly four decades after stepping off the lunar surface at Taurus-Littrow to return to Earth, Eugene Cernan will still be the last man to have walked on the Moon. And this begs a question: will any of the original Moonwalkers be alive to witness a new generation of lunar explorers finally realizing Cernan’s hopeful declaration that we would one day return there?
Judging from the pace of project Constellation and the whims of Congress, it is discouraging to think it will be many years before this nation returns to the Moon to continue its exploration and reinforce this country’s reputation as a spacefaring nation.