It was a week for celebrating space milestones: landing on the moon, walking on the moon, planting the flag on the moon. But to me the biggest of these was getting the hell off the moon.
Yes, putting men on the moon was an amazing technological achievement but think about this: before Apollo 11 no lunar module had actually been tested landing on or taking off from the moon’s surface. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fired the rocket that would get them back to the Apollo 11 command module it was a first.
And if it hadn’t worked they’d still be sitting there.
This weighed heavily on my mind as a child. As a kid I was obsessed with space and I built a model of the Saturn V rocket. This thing was nearly three feet tall and could be disassembled into stages so you could recreate a full Apollo mission from lift-off to splashdown and everything in between. It was the most awesome toy I ever had.
When I was a slightly older and differently motivated youngster this model was systematically destroyed with firecrackers and lighter fluid Â as I acted out a series of terrible space disasters. That’s what happens when hormones begin kicking in.