Monday, July 21, 2014

Space travel 45 years after ‘Men Walk on the Moon:’ ‘We can still do impossible things.’

One of the few men to step on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, of the Apollo 11 mission, has asked public figures to recount what it was like to watch he and Armstrong take ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ and inspire future generations of scientists to travel beyond the moon

It’s been 45 years since the planet stopped to cram around a tiny, grainy television set to watch humans land on the moon.

The moment can never be erased from history, but for the majority of the world’s current population, they were not alive to experience Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps on the dusty lunar soil.

Director J.J. Abrams and TV host Stephen Colbert were little kids when their parents dragged them out of bed to watch the landing, but both of them admitted to not remembering a single moment of the historic night. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly confessed he slept through the whole thing as a 5-year-old, but that didn’t stop him from later spending 54 days orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station

They were one of dozens of public figures that shared their memories of the Apollo 11 mission in a crowd-sourced video campaign organized by Aldrin.

The 84-year-old did not return to space after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, but his mission is far from over. He’s using “#Apollo45: Where were you when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon?” to inspire the next generation of scientists and advocate for a manned-mission to Mars.

“We can still do impossible things,” Aldrin said.

He and Michael Collins, the comand module pilot for Apollo 11, are the last surviving member of the three-man crew. Neil Armstrong died in 2012. Aldrin continues to act as a self-described “global statesman,” when he’s not punching moon landing conspiracy theorists in the face.

“The whole world celebrated our moon landing, but we missed the whole thing - because we were out of town,” he added.

Meanwhile on Earth, about 10,000 people packed into Central Park just to watch the Eagle land on giant projection screens, but millions tuned in on any television set they could find around the world.

Bill Nye “the Science Guy” recalls crouching in front of his family’s General Electric vacuum tubed television and even its smell while watching the moon landing.

A 10-year-old Neil deGrasse Tyson, the host of Cosmos, was on a road trip from New York to Virginia where he watched the moon landing in a small town, but the space marvel didn’t phase him. He was already very interested in science, but Tyson assumed walking on the moon would become a “routine occurrence” in his life, he said in his #Apollo45 video.

“I regret not celebrating the landing more than I did,” Tyson said.

Even though NASA stopped sending men to the moon in 1972, their engineers are working on other goals for space travel such as capturing an asteroid or studying the effects of long-term Martian living on people such as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation Crew (HI-SEAS). The NASA-funded scientists with the University of Hawaii are living out of a habitat for 120 days pretending they’re on Mars.

“I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the rain, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,” Casey Stedman, mission commander for the experiment, said in an Instagram blog post.

Isolated from most human contact, he and the other crew members don’t leave their habitat without wearing a spacesuit and live on dehydrated food. It’s a big deal when the communal treadmill breaks, because there’s only so many ways to exercise, the crew wrote in a REDDIT Ask Me Anything.

It could be decades before a trip to Mars becomes feasible, but these experiments are a way to make sure astronauts don’t “lose it mentally three months into space,” Jack Cope, a member of their HI-SEAS mission support, said.

Even though the moon is a closer destination than Mars, Aldrin has said in the past such a trip would be a waste of time, according to the Los Angeles Times. He suggests scientists set up a one-way trip to the red planet to establish a human colony.

In a July 14 update, NASA summed up a timeline of their goals:

2014: New Horizons will fly by Pluto.

2016: InSight and the European Space Agency Exomars Trace Gas Orbiter will both launch toward Mars to investigate what lies beneath the surface and check for sources of methane gas.

2018: They’ll test an orbit around the moon to study asteroids in the future.

2018: The James Webb Space Telescope will launch and replace the Hubble.

2019: A robot will attempt to lasso an asteroid.

2020: A new rover will join Curiosity on the red planet to search for the possibility of life.

2021: Astronauts will orbit the moon to study asteroids.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/space-travel-45-years-men-walk-moon-article-1.1873979