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National
Apollo 11: Why the moon mission matters, why we should care
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Apollo 11: Why the moon mission matters, why we should care

Apollo 11: Why the moon mission matters, why we should care
Photo Credit: NASA
Astronuats Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.

Apollo 11: Why the moon mission matters, why we should care

It was once thought of as an impossible quest, an improbable moonshot of the longest odds: Putting humans on the lunar surface then returning them to Earth.

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The directive from President John F. Kennedy in 1961 asked the young space agency NASA to do just that, and in eight short years the agency and hundreds of support personnel and ordinary Americans accomplished what many argue is the greatest human achievement of all time.

July 20 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that saw three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins travel to where no man had gone before. Armstrong and Aldrin walked into history when they touched down on the lunar surface while Collins orbited above.
The Apollo 11 moon landing was the first manned mission to the moon, and it was the first time in history humans left Earth and landed on another planetary body. The astronauts also brought back the first samples from a planetary object.

Aside from the obvious reason the historic Apollo 11 mission was so important, there are other reasons the mission made a lasting impact on the country and the world.

Some historical analyses credit the Apollo 11 mission with the start of the digital revolution and other major technological gains. 

“The technology that America reaped from the federal investment in space hardware (satellite reconnaissance, biomedical equipment, lightweight materials, water-purification systems, improved computing systems and a global search-and-rescue system) has earned its worth multiple times over,” historian Douglas Brinkley concluded in his book “AMERICAN MOONSHOT: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.”

“We didn’t get the Jetsons, as some people dreamed, but the eight years between President Kennedy’s challenge and the actual moon landing produced an unprecedented blossoming of innovation, creativity, public attention (and then public inattention), innovative management, intensity, suspense, discovery, and politics. We think we went to the Moon and all we got was Tang and Velcro, because we’ve lost the perspective of how the Apollo project laid the foundation for the digital age in which we now live and work,” David Lidsky wrote for Fast Company.

Kent Wang wrote for the Asia Times that the Apollo 11 mission opened the gateway for the exploration of the universe and created a potential staging area for a journey to Mars.

“NASA needs to develop a strategy for effectively leveraging both commercial and international partners to send humans on missions to the moon. Fortunately, we now seem to be closer to a consensus that it is time for humans to move beyond low-Earth orbit and that an important part of that evolution will involve people landing on the moon and establishing a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars.”

It’s the Apollo 11 mission so many years ago that proved humans could leave the Earth and journey beyond its gravity to our nearest neighbor. It’s Apollo 11 that opened the door to the possibility of human exploration of the universe and the upcoming next step: a mission to Mars.

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News

  • About a dozen American flags lined up along Highland Avenue in Needham, Massachusetts, were burned Sunday night, according to police. A dozen more flags set on the lawn near the Exchange Club were found destroyed, as well. According to Boston's WFXT, the flags have been replaced, but the ashes are still scattered along the grass. Longtime Needham resident Kate Robey takes it upon herself to display the flags on Highland Avenue during patriotic holidays. “I think everyone appreciates it. I get honks and the waves and the thank-yous,” Robey said. But this Fourth of July, the flags were vandalized. “Dedicated people put those out and to just burn them, nonchalantly, it’s hurtful,” said Robey. Robey has been working with the Needham VFW for years and has displayed these flags in the same parts of town for almost a decade now. She’s left confused and wondering why someone would vandalize her tribute to the men and women serving the country. “As I do the flags, I think of the veterans, fallen brave and the military out there fighting for our freedom now,” Robey said. Robey said about a dozen were burned by Memorial Park and a dozen more burned outside the Needham Exchange Club, where 500 flags were displayed in lieu of a scaled-back Fourth of July celebration. “I don’t mind what you do at your home with your flags, but these flags are my flags, and it’s vandalism,” Robey said. Police said they are investigating the matter.
  • An off-duty volunteer firefighter is being hailed as a hero after he rescued a baby while swimming at a Maryland park. According to the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, one of its firefighters, Andrew Bell, heard a woman shouting as he swam at Swallow Falls State Park while off-duty on Sunday.  'A raft that a baby was floating on had flipped over, and the baby went into the water,' the department said in a Facebook post Sunday night.  Bell quickly found the baby, who was unconscious, the Cumberland Times-News reported.  'I put it on its back for a little bit, and it started spitting up water,' Bell told the newspaper.  Bell then called an ambulance and continued to help the family until rescue crews arrived, the Fire Department said. 'It's our understanding that baby is going to be OK,' the department added. 'Great work, FF Bell!' Bell told the Times-News that even though he wasn't on duty at the time of the incident, it was still his 'duty to go help that person.' Read more here or here.
  • A PGA golf pro, his son and two stepchildren were among the eight people who died in an Idaho plane crash Sunday, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to KPTV, Oregon residents Sean Fredrickson, 48; son Hayden Fredrickson, 16; and stepchildren Sofia Olsen, 15, and Quinn Olsen, 11, were killed Sunday afternoon when two planes collided over Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene and crashed into the water. All eight people on the two planes died in the crash, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities said Fredrickson and the children were on board a Brooks Seaplane piloted by 58-year-old Neil Lunt of Liberty Lake, Washington, at the time of the crash, the Spokesman-Review reported. Officials have not yet identified a sixth person who also was on the plane.  The two people on board the other plane, a Cessna TU206G, have been identified, but officials have not publicly released their names, according to the Spokesman-Review. As of Tuesday, crews were still working to recover two of the victims' bodies, the newspaper reported.  Fredrickson, the Pacific Northwest PGA Section's president, was the lead golf pro at Oregon's Oswego Lake Country Club, according to KPTV. “A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reins a year early as president and then leading us wisely through this pandemic,” the Pacific Northwest PGA Section said in a statement. “We are all better because of Sean’s leadership over the past 12 years.” Fredrickson's wife, April Fredrickson, told KPTV that her family 'died while they were on an adventure.' 'I think that, at the end of the day, they died doing what they loved, which was ... being together,' she told the news outlet. Read more here or here.
  • Atlanta police released a new video and surveillance photos from its investigation into the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl. According to WSB-TV, Secoriea Turner was shot while riding in a car with her mother and her mother’s friend Saturday night. The shooting happened not far from the Wendy’s on University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed last month. The video shows a Black man in a white shirt carrying what police identified as an AR-15. Lt. Pete Malecki said the man is just one of several persons of interest in the case. “We believe there is going to be a minimum of three additional suspects. That number could change,” he said. “Although we have a lot of work to identify the remaining individuals responsible, this is the first step in that process.” Investigators said Secoriea Turner was riding in a Jeep Cherokee Saturday night when the driver tried to get around a “makeshift roadblock that was manned by numerous armed individuals.” Malecki said they believe the shots were fired intentionally into the car. At a news conference Sunday, Secoriea Turner’s mother said that her daughter died in her arms. “She was only 8 years old,” Charmaine Turner said. “She would have been on Tik Tok dancing on her phone, just got done eating. We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks. We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent. My baby didn’t mean no harm.” Secoriya Williamson, Secoriea Turner’s father, also spoke out. “They say Black lives matter,” Williamson said. “You killed your own this time. You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody.” Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Secoriea Turner’s killers. Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.StopCrimeATL.com. Hours following the police news conference, the community came together for a prayer vigil.
  • A 17-month-old girl was killed in a pit bull attack last weekend during a Fourth of July party in Illinois, authorities said. According to The Associated Press and WMAQ-TV, the incident occurred early Sunday in the bedroom of a family friend's Joliet home. The toddler, whose parents were attending a holiday gathering at the residence, was in a playpen when two dogs somehow got free from the basement, Joliet police said. After hearing a noise, the homeowner went into the bedroom to find one of the two dogs – both pit bull mixes – biting the child, the AP reported. Authorities responded to the home shortly before 1:30 a.m. and found the girl unresponsive with multiple bite wounds, the Herald-News reported. Crews rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she later died. The Will County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Marley Wilander, according to the newspaper. The dog is now in the custody of Animal Control, police said.  – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was hospitalized briefly after suffering a fall last month at a Maryland country club, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed Tuesday night. Roberts, 65, required an overnight stay, The Washington Post reported. Roberts suffered the fall June 21 at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland and required stitches, the newspaper reported. He was released from an area hospital after staying overnight for observation. “The Chief Justice was treated at a local hospital on June 21 for an injury to his forehead sustained in a fall while walking for exercise near his home,” Kathleen Arberg, public information officer for the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “The injury required sutures, and out of an abundance of caution, he stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged the next morning. His doctors ruled out a seizure. They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration.” Roberts experienced seizures in 1993 and 2007, the Post reported. Roberts has not publicly mentioned the hospitalization.