Neil Armstrong: A life of Flight, by Jay Barbree. 2014. Thomas Dunne books.
I’ve just finished reading the most remarkable book about the first rocket flight to the moon.
There’s one page in particular that I read and reread.
It was 4:17 pm EDT, Sunday July 20th, 1969. Neil Armstrong has just put his foot on the surface of the moon:
‘He stood there rock solid, boots braced for balance, enclosed in the elaborate pressurized exoskeleton that sustained his life in this inhospitable place. It was filled with energy, with supplies of heat and cooling, water, oxygen pressure - a capsule of life created by his Apollo colleagues, and Neil Armstrong stood looking long and hard at this small, untouched world.
He was overwhelmed; his sense and his thoughts set afire with the miracle of being on the lunar surface. He believed that he and Buzz and those who would follow were there for more than just walking through lunar dust and measuring solar winds, magnetic fields, and radiation levels; all that was window dressing for their real purpose for coming.
It all condensed into every view they had of their fragile, beautiful Earth. It was suddenly clear to this son of the land once walked by Orville and Wilbur Wright that he was on the moon to look back - to give every single human a clear look at spaceship Earth. In this neighborhood of the universe it was life’s only world. It was encased in diamond-hard blackness and Neil recognized it mattered little if he were Republican, Democrat, Independent, apolitical, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or whomever the hell we liked or disliked. We lived on a vulnerable world and we needed to take care of its very definite resources; on a world where we would all suffer terrifying consequences if we destroyed its ability to sustain us, its ability to foster and nurture the very life we now threatened to contaminate. neil knew no matter how diligent, how great our effort to protect Earth, it was finite and one day if humans were to survive they would have to move on to new worlds. Helping to achieve that was what he and Buzz and all those those who would follow were doing walking on the moon.
Neil stopped his thoughts, forced himself out of introspection.’
Brilliant, isn’t it? And gives the reader SO much to think about……..