So today is the 40th anniversary of Mr Armstrong taking his small step onto the moon and I am quite surprised to note that none of the blogs I regularly read have mentioned it at all. Perhaps I'm the only space freak out there (can't quite believe that) or perhaps everyone else had more thrilling things to write about. After all, it was fourty years ago and who cares these days? Well, I do.
Although I didn't come along until 1971 and the last few gasps of the Apollo programme, I have always been fascinated by the idea of getting off this rock. I'm told that almost as soon as we could walk, my friend Rebecca and I were bouncing up and down the lounge in slow motion imitation of the moonwalkers. So either they were repeating the footage quite a lot or we were pretty precocious in the mobility stakes.
Having read a fair bit on the subject in recent years (particularly since visiting Houston in 2006) I am still staggered by the effort put into the whole space programme and how well they did. The fact that NASA didn't lose any astronauts in flight until the Challenger explosion is just incredible when you think how many people get killed by their work in other fields with a much lower percieved risk. I can also appreciate that the shuttle has done a good job of helping learn the science and medical stuff etc for long term future of space travel, even if mucking about in low earth orbit is one hell of a come-down compared to shooting for the moon. I'd still give my left leg for a ride up out of the atmosphere, that's for sure. Maybe Virgin Galactic will get their act together soon enough for me to try it (if I win the lottery) but I'd rather be up there for my job than as a tourist. And given that we have had British astronauts I might just have made it if I'd put my mind to it 25 years or so ago and applied myself to the right kind of studies. We will never know.
Still, I am lapping up all the documentaries and stuff the BBC have been putting out over the last few weeks. I've seen some of the footage so many times I can follow bits of debris and know where they will fall during a lift off, but it still stirs the emotions. And the fact that stuff I haven't seen before is also cropping up is just fantastic. I could sit and watch that for hours. Even the larking about with blobs of water in zero g (OK, microgravity if you want to get technical) is worth watching to remind ourselves of the possibilities of getting out there.
We are having a day trip to London next week and I might just have to find half an hour or so to pop into the Science Museum to stare at their battered old command module for a bit. It may only have been from the dress rehersal, but it did go to the moon and back, which is pretty impressive for any man-made object.