COLUMN: Moon mission a giant leap for technology

The day Armstrong made history, July 20, 1969, was one like so many others that stick in memory ...


Because of its rarity, it’s called a “blue moon,” but it was nothing less than awe-inspiring as the big orb arced over us last week, the skies cloudless at midnight Thursday.

Spectacular in its presence, and amazing that man has actually walked on it. And the first, Neil Armstrong, perhaps prophetically was buried last week while Earth’s satellite reached its zenith for the second time in a month, thus the “once in a blue” reference.

The day Armstrong made history, July 20, 1969, was one like so many others that stick in memory for those of us alive when monumental events occur.

I recall distinctly where I was and what I was doing on that July day 43 years ago, as I also have fixed in memory my location when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, and when the twin towers of the World Trade Centre came crashing down.

And while they all changed the world, Armstrong’s first step onto the moon was incredible, not so much that he did it, but how it was done.

Today most of us carry cell phones that have far more power and features than were in the Apollo 11 space capsule, or for that matter probably in the NASA space centre at the time.

In those days computers were larger than cars, required special air-conditioned rooms and were so delicate that even a particle of smoke from a cigarette could cause them to crash. Now they fit in your pocket.

Because of the relative crudeness of technology in the ’60s, the shot at the moon was little more than exactly that: point a rocket at it and, based on trajectory, hope it arrived – and hope even more that you could get the astronauts back home.

With current technology, you can mount on the windshield or dash of your car a GPS system that, aside from finding the quickest route to your destination, can also direct you to the nearest pizza parlour.

Armstrong and his lunar travel partners had to guide them little more than a modified sextant developed to aid explorers trying to discover the world, let alone space. And the grainy black and white television images sent back to Earth of the historic moment (and yes, for the skeptics among us there still is a debate over whether they were real or staged before the actual flight) took a long time to get to the Kennedy Space Centre.

Now a video of the grandkid running about the home lawn can be beamed instantly to me in the backcountry via my iPhone – though using such devices is generally frowned upon when one is supposedly there to enjoy the ‘get away from it all’ isolation and serenity.

So what is left to discover, to micro-ize and where do we go from here?

The moon, thanks to Armstrong and a few others who followed him, is ‘been there, done that’ old news.

Mars might be next, but truly what is the point of travelling to inhospitable places? And anywhere else is simply too far away given human life spans.

Then again, if anyone ever determines how to travel through time, or dramatically slow the human aging process, distant space discovery may yet resume.

After all, one of the alleged driving forces behind the Apollo 11-like exploration of this world was Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth.

Come up with the technology to create that and new worlds will be found – if only to give us room to house a population that, with death virtually eliminated, would surely overwhelm the Earth.




Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read