A little space, please!
This post is in response to Shimelle’s “10 things on the tenth” meme. Find more 10-item lists here and feel free to add one of your own.
In many ways, the United States’ space program has been a backdrop of my entire adult life. As noted here, I, along with millions of other viewers, had a front row seat to the first lunar landing way back in 1969. Over the years, I’ve always had a general awareness of the space program, intensified, of course, by both milestone missions and horrible tragedies. I also appreciate the very real everyday benefits we all enjoy because of space program research and development (e.g., dried fruits, ready-to-eat foods, stay-dry clothing, micro-technology, satellite communications, medical advances, and much, much more).
There are hundreds, probably even thousands, of quotes associated with the space program. The few I’ve included here are arranged in more or less chronological order beginning with President Kennedy’s challenge to the nation to explore space, through success, growth and maturity, disaster and disappointment, and, finally, to at least a pause in the U.S.’s space program. I hope these few quotes will prompt your own memories and reflections of a triumph of human spirit, courage and ingenuity.
- …the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward, and so will space.
~ John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
First Lunar Landing
- That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.
~ Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11, July 20, 1969
- …because of what you have done the heavens have become part of man’s world… For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all of the people on this Earth are truly one.
~ President Richard M. Nixon (on first lunar landing.)
- It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it’s an imperative.
~ Michael Collins, Gemini and Apollo astronaut.
- For forty-nine months between 1968 and 1972, two dozen Americans had the great good fortune to briefly visit the Moon. Half of us became the first emissaries from Earth to tread its dusty surface. We who did so were privileged to represent the hopes and dreams of all humanity. For mankind it was a giant leap for a species that evolved from the Stone Age to create sophisticated rockets and spacecraft that made a Moon landing possible. For one crowning moment, we were creatures of the cosmic ocean, an epoch that a thousand years hence may be seen as the signature of our century.
~ Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.
The Shuttle Challenger
- …space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.
~ Christa McAuliffe, December 6, 1985
- “Our nation is indeed fortunate that we can still draw on an immense reservoir of courage, character, and fortitude, that we are still blessed with heroes like those of the space shuttle Challenger. Man will continue his conquest of space. To reach out for new goals and ever-greater achievements, that is the way we shall commemorate our seven Challenger heroes.”
~ President Ronald Reagan
- This day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country… The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors… The cause in which they died will continue… Our journey into space will go on.
~ President George W. Bush, February 1, 2003
The Final Shuttle Mission
- “Mission complete, Houston. After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle has earned its place in history, and it’s come to a final stop.”
~ Christopher Ferguson, Atlantis commander, STS-135, the last Space Shuttle flight as the shuttle came to a stop on the runway at Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011.
- “We congratulate you, Atlantis, as well as the thousands of passionate individuals across this great space faring nation who truly empowered this incredible spacecraft which has inspired millions around the globe.”
~ Barry Wilmore, Entry Capsule Commander