Mon
Jul 20 2009 12:00am

Moon Landing Day & Tor.com’s One Year Anniversary

Tor.com turns one year old today, and in the finest hobbit tradition we are giving away presents to you!

Beginning imminently and over the next twenty-four hours, we will have a special prize (or prize package) every hour on the hour. These prizes will range from the silly to the sublime. But don’t take my word for it: stay tuned (or as we like to say, watch the skies) and pay attention to the giveaway posts, which will tell you how to enter to be eligible for these prizes.

When Tor.com launched exactly one year ago, we didn’t choose the day arbitrarily. July 20th is a special day in science fiction: it’s the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first setting foot on the moon, while Michael Collins orbited above. Today marks the 40th anniversary of that momentous event, and as such we wanted to take a moment to reflect on history. (I am sorry that Walter Cronkite cannot share this day.) The official NASA website has a spectacular retrospective up right now, and wechoosethemoon.org has a really neat interactive archive if you want to explore and learn more about the Apollo 11 mission.

It’s easy now, with hindsight, to be cynical about the whole affair. We’re all familiar with the criticism: The Apollo program was an enormous money sink. It was a distraction from Vietnam. It began for all the wrong reasons. Astronauts died to get us there. There wasn’t much on the moon, and we didn’t learn nearly enough from our excursion to justify the price (either monetarily or in human lives). It was a waste.

All these things are true. And none of them matter.

My entire life I have known that men landed on the moon. This was not a moment I held my breath for, or dreamed of, or imagined only in books or films or art. It happened long before I was born and has never been anything but a fact. It’s so distant that to me, it’s science fiction. Yet more than any single event in scientific history, a moment that I was not even alive for is still the most inspiring goddamn thing I’ve ever known. Every time I look at those images I am moved by the breadth of human ingenuity. All my cynicism is replaced by a belief that with passion, hard work, and perseverance, we can overcome any barrier—even the ones we didn’t know we had set for ourselves. We can achieve any measure of greatness. We can become our fiction and make our dreams something tangible, attainable.

We can touch the sky.

Nothing in my own lifetime has ever filled me with that kind of hope or inspiration—nothing but science fiction.

With that in mind, I’ve asked authors, artists, critics, and fans in the science fiction community to send me their stories of what they were doing when the LEM landed on the lunar surface, and to tell me how it informed their relationship with science fiction. What you’ll be seeing throughout today on Tor.com are personal glimpses of a moment in history.

So where were you that day, and how did it inform your relationship with science fiction?


Housekeeping note: All the images you will see today are public domain images from NASA.

56 comments
Irene Gallo
1. Irene
Amen, Torie! As someone who also missed the event (albeit by a much finer margin) you've articulated what I've felt for the past 39.5 years.

OK, maybe it wasn't on my mind the first few years but it wasn't long before I was drawing space scenes and taping them underneath my mother's desk, aka the "space craft", with my Curious George doll as copilot.
Eric Braddock
2. EricBraddock
Wow, it's already been a year? Time flies.. Happy Birthday, Tor.com :]
Chris Weigert
3. StrangeTikiGod
Happy birthday, Tor.com! I found myself asking "Has it been a year already" when I saw the Kubrickian comic earlier. Now I know it is.

As for where I was when Mr. Armstrong walked on the moon? I was nary a gleam in either parent's eye. My mother had only graduated high school the year before! It would take nearly 11 more years for me to cause the world to tremble at my presence (or maybe that was Mt. St. Helens erupting a couple weeks before my delivery...who can tell?)
mmoore
4. mmoore
At home. My parents let my sister and I stay up until Neil Armstrong's foot actually touched the moon. In fact, we pulled the sleeper sofa and did not go to bed.

It seemed to take forever; there was check after check. We dozed off and on. Finally, the moment came and we watched on our little black and white television. At least, that is how I remember it. I have to ask my sister what she remembers. :-)
mmoore
5. mmoore
I have to mention that my sister has worked on the space station project. I guess the magic of that night made SOME impression.
Pablo Defendini
6. pablodefendini
"We can touch the sky."

I couldn't have put it better myself. I, too, was a good ten years away from being even a mote in my parents' eye in 1968, and I've grown up with the knowledge that men have landed on the moon. It's history to me, certainly. But call me sentimental—whenever I see the footage, or hear the audio, I get goosebumps. I tear up a little.

Because even on this side of history, even despite having grown up with the iconic images in my grade school history books, even despite having Buzz Aldrin's space-suited, flag-hoisting likeness reduced to an MTV branding image, it's still a daunting achievement, and a testament to everything that humanity can accomplish if it puts its considerable resources behind an endeavour.

I bristle a little bit at the notion that it's an American accomplishment. Not because credit isn't due the American NASA team (quite the opposite, and that fact hit home as I was watching some documentaries about the Apollo program last week, and I really internalized how herculean a feat it really was), but because it's such a huge thing, something that all humanity should be proud of, and by all rights it should be everyone's. After all, it's humanity's destiny to reach for the stars, not one single nations'.

Despite the setbacks that the American space program has had, despite the designed-by-committee fiasco that has been the space shuttle, despite the relative lethargy with which private industry and other nations have taken up the slack, I'm still convinced that our long-term destiny is to become a space-faring race. As Stephen Hawkins has famously pointed out, we have no alternative from a practical perspective. Additionally, humanity's track record is clear: always exploring, reaching for the unknown, expanding our horizons, and the Apollo program was the epitome of that intrinsic, instinctual, and utterly human impulse. Leif Erikson, Vasco de Gama, Magellan, Aldrin, Armstrong, Collins, and beyond.

Many lament the stagnation of the space program, and they are right to do so. It's a goddamned shame that we seem to have all the money in the world to wage wars, but we can't be bothered to resume peopled space exploration. It's also a bloody embarrassment that we have no problem intentionally sending millions of people to die in wars, but we balk at the accidental deaths of a handful of intrepid pioneers, and bring our peopled space exploration programs to a grinding halt.

But let's not forget that forty years is but a pinprick of time within the context of the whole of recorded human history, and a miniscule, almost imperceptible measure within the context of all that lies ahead. To paraphrase a favourite songwriter of mine: we are living in the pre-history of the future. As far as that future history is concerned, the Apollo program is a formidable beginning.
j p
7. sps49
I was a little boy living in Mayport, FL, and although I have memories of watching launches, lunar takeoffs, and return "animations" on TV, I am not sure if I remember this one. I didn't know what science fiction was yet.

But launchings from the Cape were visible, especially at night. Those were awesome, and impressed me with what people (scientists and engineers, specifically) could do. I wanted to find out everything about space, to the extent that, according to my mother, I repeatedly corrected the tour guide at the Kennedy Space Center- yes, apparently, I was That Kid.

But we made it to a whole 'nother place! Humans set a goal, mapped out plans and hypotheses to reach that goal, built and tested the tools and techniques needed, and did it!

Which meant that science fiction was possible.

Of course, this meant that I want the science in my fiction to make sense, but that's a different thread.
mmoore
8. Chris Hsiang
As Neil Armstrong took that famous one small step I was probably taking my own first steps and chewing on the spines of my favorite books. In that spirit, I should like to wish tor.com the following literary tribute:

"HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY."
-A. A. Milne
mmoore
9. Charlie Athanas
I was born in 1957 and have always considered myself a Sputnik baby. As a small boy, my friends and I would lay on our backs under clear Canadian skies and watch satellites as they blinked by amid the the stars. As I grew older, the race for the moon paced my imagination as a reality. I saved the LIFE magazine articles, built the models of the Saturn V and the LEM, and dreamed of outer space.

Forty years ago, my family huddled around our black and white television with the rest of the world and watched Armstrong step out onto another celestial body. A surreal, beautiful moment that meant anything could happen.

Anything.
mmoore
10. fls
Happy Anniversary!

I was 3 and we went over to my grandparents to watch on their big console television (big by the standards of the time). I will never forget that. Every time I've gotten to go to Washington, I've gone to the Air and Space museum. I wish they'd had space camp when I was a kid; I'd go now! I really wanted to touch a moon rock. I still stare at those amazing pictures of Earth. I remember people calling it the big, blue marble. When I was in high school, I got to hold a shuttle tile while someone held a blowtorch on the other side of it. I've gotten to see a night launch of a space shuttle.

The achievement honors everyone who was a part of it, especially the ones we'll never know about. For a brief time, something united people all over the world. And, as someone else said, this meant that anything is possible and science fiction can be real.
Becca Hollingsworth
11. bibliobeque
I was born three months later, so I too have always lived in a world where travel to the moon was not only possible, but an accomplished fact.

My family was on vacation at the time, camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, but they tell me another family in the campground put a TV on top of their van and everybody gathered round to watch the landing.
mmoore
12. Elizabeth Moon
I was active duty in the USMC at the time, living in the BOQ at Quantico. My roommate and I, to avoid the crush around the TV in the bar, rented a room in a motel in Triangle for the night so we'd have a TV to ourselves. We brought in pizza and sodas, and I quoted chunks of Heinlein from memory.

I really thought then there was a chance of being there myself someday, in spite of being near-sighted and female. Would I now? Yup.
mmoore
13. DonnaBL
I can't remember what I was doing a year ago...but I can say for sure that 40 years ago, I was almost on my way out to say hello to the world, August 5th to be exact.

Happy Anniversary Tor.com!
mmoore
14. greg0
I went next door to the neighbor's big television and took a few pictures with an old Kodak camera! Fuzzy B&W but authentic enough for me.
I've expected a lot more from the future than what has transpired. Is it time to go to Mars yet?
mmoore
15. Greg Back
I was 12, living with my family in a trailer park near Tampa, FL, the day the LEM touched down. I watched the coverage on a fuzzy black-and-white TV, totally engrossed, while my Mom and Dad watched without really seeing. My dad is gone now, but neither of them remembered much about the moon landing, because they were preoccupied with my little sister, Donna, 10, who was fighting for her life against Cystic Fibrosis. She won that particular battle, recovering from yet another bout of pneumonia, but lost the war less than five months later.

I was able to escape from that awful stress by immersing myself in the wonder of our country's achievement. I think that, though I was already a comics reader and SF fan, that day cemented my love of the genre forever after.
mmoore
16. lesley zajac
having grown up in Boston, with a girlfriend who lived next door to Isaac Asimov, I was an avid reader of Sci-Fi-I was visiting my sister in Ft Benning, Ga on my birthday July 20th and avidly watched in awe THE LANDING ON THE MOON-I'm not sure when I stopped holding my breath but I think it was shortly before fainting. What an experience. Clark, Harrison, Asimov and Bradley were all RIGHT- we were going to outer space!!! and I got to see it.
mmoore
17. MKS
On that day I was a 16 year old high school student in Rambouillet, France (a small town not far from Paris) on a summer long tour of France with the Foreign Study League. Groups of American students and British students were gathered in the student union at the lycee (boarding school), with the French couple in charge translating the commentary re the moon landing. When they announced that we had landed on the moon the American students erupted with joy-screaming, dancing, hugging each other, while the British students sat there and watched us in bewilderment. There was no video coverage until later, but the radio announcement that day cemented our pride in being American. The Vietnam War was raging-with the Paris Peace Talks ongoing-but Americans landing on the moon was a watershed moment. We knew we could do anything!
A nearly fifty year reader of Science Fiction, I have never lost that feeling of elation that went with the moon landing.
Mike Frighetto
18. Mjfrig
I was born just six months before we went to the moon. I wish I was old enough to have seen this happen live, I know I would have loved it. I can't wait for us to put people on the moon, or elsewhere, again. I like watching the shuttle missions, and I'm really liking NASA TV, but we need to go farther. I think that will help keep the younger generation interested in space exploration and science general.

Anyway, happy anniversary Tor.com!
Fragano Ledgister
19. Fledgist
My family had only recently moved from England to the Jamaican countryside.

Paradoxically, we listened to the landing on Cuban radio, relayed to Radio Rebelde in Santiago de Cuba from Kingston. We had as clear reception at night of Cuban radio as of Jamaican stations. The Cubans were just as fascinated by the landing on the Moon as anybody else in the world, for all that the United States were their enemies.
Fragano Ledgister
20. Fledgist
My family had only recently moved from England to the Jamaican countryside.

Paradoxically, we listened to the landing on Cuban radio, relayed to Radio Rebelde in Santiago de Cuba from Kingston. We had as clear reception at night of Cuban radio as of Jamaican stations. The Cubans were just as fascinated by the landing on the Moon as anybody else in the world, for all that the United States were their enemies.
Mike Rice
21. dolo724
Just before my 7th birthday my dad pulled my brother and I in from playing to watch the moon landing. I sat enthralled in front of the Zenith, I knew this was something special. Earlier that year my grandma had given me We Came In Peace by LeRoi Smith, and she followed in the years after with science fiction novels by some of the greats, Heinlein, Niven, Asimov, Bradbury.

I was hooked, and never forgot what the journey to the stars/planets/asteroids really meant for mankind: Profit!

Love ya Grandma! (and Tor gets to help!)
Steve Timberlake
22. Linkmeister
18 years old, living on Guam with parents between freshman and sophomore years of college. There was no television, so we heard it on the radio.
T C
23. Freelancer
I greatly appreciate the passion in your post. I was eight years old, sitting in our front room with my parents, glued all night long to the 13" Magnavox black and white, watching what is still the most amazing human event I have ever known. The drama, the hype, and the wall-to-wall coverage would today be treated with disdain by all too many who have lived their entire lives knowing it was already done. But on that day, none of the superlatives were adequate to convey the scope of the truth.

I cannot begin to properly express the amazement and thrill of seeing the lander touch down on a celestial body that wasn't Earth. My earliest exposure to sci-fi was on the screen, with the classic Outer Limits and Twilight Zone shows, as well as feature movies like The War of the Worlds and such. By 1969, I had begun to form a love for written sci-fi thanks to Verne and Asimov. To watch the fantasies of those great minds become reality on that singular night was a phenomenal and moving experience.

Happy naming day, TordotCom, and may you be more than 'just a memory' 40 years from now.
Sherrye Nichols
24. san301
Happy birthday, Tor.com!

I was 16 years old. Watching on a fairly large-screen TV, B&W of course. Dad repaired TVs, so we had an in.

Watching the landing, I was mesmerized, didn't eat, barely left the room. Wished again for a telescope.

I remember wishing later that week that a girl could be an astronaut. Wondered if it would ever happen.

Wished I wasn't born 100 years too soon.
Bruce Cohen
25. SpeakerToManagers
1969 had already been an important year for me: I got out of the Army and moved in with my wife-to-be (and still). But in some ways the Moon landing was the peak of the year. I had been waiting for this moment since I was 7, when I had first started reading SF. I had followed the Apollo project from the beginning, I had read everything I could find about it. Now we were finally taking that long step that would open up the universe.

We were visiting my parents house, and watched the landing there with my sister and youngest brother, who were 6 and 4 at the time. They didn't know quite what to make of it all, but they caught the excitement of the altitude countdown from the LEM as they came in for a landing. We waited for Armstrong to step out on the surface, and watched the slow-scan low-res picture as he did, and cheered. All except for my sister and brother who had fallen asleep a half an hour or so before Armstrong came out.

I knew the Apollo program was largely a public relations event for the US government, and a 9 day wonder to most of the billion people who watched the landing that day, but to me it represented a fulfillment of the promise of space that had been made to me all my life. Over the next few years as the program wound down and the follow-on projects became less and less venturesome I realized that I might not see anything more in space in my lifetime, a thought that still depresses me.

Apollo showed that a small group of dedicated people with a dream can perform great deeds given the backing of their country. Many of us who remember that day, and many who were too young then, but have caught the fire from those jerky videos of a man on another celestial body than earth, share that dream. If we knew better how to make the dream alive for the public at large, we could be doing more such deeds, even now.
mmoore
26. lholmq42
I was four, almost five years old and I don't remember it at all, consciously. Some deep part of me does, apparently, because I've been a heavy SF reader all my life.
I feel we have been short-changed since there has been so little progress after Apollo. We have been learning a tremendous amount, and we have better tools, but we still cannot seem to get off our... couches... to go out there. And I think we should.
Warren Ellis has written a fantastic story about this called "Orbiter", together with Colleen Doran. All who share my feeling of being "trapped on this marble" should read it, everytime I re-read it I cry at the end. It gives a huge boost of hope. I think all good SF does.
Good luck with your future years.
Peter Schmidt
27. PHSchmidt
Vividly remember the landing, 3.5 years old, sitting on my brother's lap, watching the new color TV that my engineer dad had recently built from a kit, a little disappointed it wasn't in color, but understanding that this was a Really Big Deal.

And I still remember the feeling of betrayal when I learned Apollo was canceled. I was stunned - "They can do that??"

We have to go back.
Michael Below
28. ediFanoB
Happy Anniversary Tor.com!

I still remember the 20th of July 1969. It was three days before my 10th birthday. We were on holiday at the German North Sea coast. We watched the whole night TV.
mmoore
29. frisket
I was in Ireland, aged 15, and my Dad and I stayed up all night fueled by coffee and sandwiches to watch the fun. My great-grandmother, who was 99, told us she didn't stay up for it, but watched it next day and was thrilled to have lived to see it.
mmoore
30. Steve Schaper Iowa
I was 7, and had been following space exploration on TV since the Mercury missions. I remember Walter Cronkite demonstrating with models. Space was big in school, too, in rural Iowa.

We went over to Grandma and Grandpa's because they had a color TV. (Grandpa was born the same year that the Wright Brothers first flew) The picture quality was terrible coming back from the Moon. But it was real! And then looking up at the Moon and realizing that there were two men on it!

I never thought we'd go no further for the next 40 years. That the American pioneer spirit was dying, and politicians without vision would eat up the budget with bread and circuses to buy votes.

What an indictment!
mmoore
31. evc
My husband and I held up our 18-month-old son to watch the landing on our brand new color TV, purchased just for the occaision. Of course, the moon is not a colorful place but it didn't matter. It is a rare thing to witness something that actually is a turning point in history and to realize that fact as it is happening.

I've always been an avid reader of SF both before and after the moon landing. I don't think the landing did change my relation to science fiction - I've always believed. Just wish I could go too - maybe in my next life!

And, my big brother contributed to the design of the video circuits that brought us those live pictures! Way to go Rich!
mmoore
32. AnthonyE
I was working as a computer trainee in Canberra(Australia) at the time and I had a couple of friends who had worked with me but had obtained computer jobs working at the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station outside Canberra as a part of the Apollo project.


I don't think I've ever been quite as envious of anyone as I was that day. As someone who was already a serious F&SF fan, I would have loved to have had even a minor part in that project.

One of them did manage to pick up a Univac Diagnostics Manual as a souvenir for me. It was stamped with the project logo, and all sorts of official looking stuff - unfortunately some rotten b&%#@*d stole it a year or so later.

Interestingly the only place in the world where the public saw the lunar TV direct, and not via Houston, was in Australia. As the TV was sent from Sydney Video to the Moree Earth Station, a spilt was sent to the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s studios at Gore Hill in Sydney’s northern suburbs. At Gore Hill, engineers used a locally-built optical scan converter (reportedly mounted on a wooden packing case) to produce a 625 line / 50 fields per second version of the broadcast.
mmoore
33. Neal in Albania
I was born just a few months prior to the landing, so I don't recall it at all. As a kid, people routinely asked if I was named after Neil Armstrong, since I was born that year, but I wasn't. I was named after another Neal, which has led to a lifetime of misspellings. By the time I was old enough to pay attention, the US was in retreat. While in high school, I was home sick on the day of the first shuttle tragedy; I still have a newspaper clipping from that day. I've been a scifi/fantasy fan almost since I could read, so space has always been a big part of my life. Growing up in the country, I remember many nights spent on the lawn, sprawled on my back with a good pair of binoculars. As an adult, I've continued reading and avidly follow all news astronomical. Ad astra!

Happy anniversary, Tor.com! Keep up the good work.
Alena McNamara
34. aamcnamara
I have no memory of the event at all, for a very good reason: I was not born for another 22 years.
Maria Stahl
35. MariainIowa
Humph. I thought I posted to this right about the time Elizabeth Moon did, but it's not there now. Anyway, I was 7, and our little TV was in the dining room, and my parents let me and my little brother camp out under the dining table with blankets and pillows, strategically angled to see the little screen. Like mmoore, I dozed off quite a few times, waking up for the exciting parts. I'm glad my parents thought it momentous enough to let us - nay, insist on us - staying up to see it through.
Alan Petrillo
36. Wingborn
I was four and a half, and living with my maternal grandparents while my mother was away at college. My grandfather was the pastor of a church in the sleepy little town of Marsh Swamp, NC. The congregation had gotten together the year before to make sure the parsonage was equipped with the best television money could buy at the time, which was a 21" black and white set. At the time of the landing it seemed as if half the congregation was in my grandparents' living room watching that television set. As a young'un at the time I was relegated to the floor. I didn't care. It got me closer to the television set, and it was one of the few times that my grandmother wasn't scolding me for getting too close. We watched Walter Cronkite's coverage, as he was, and still is despite his passing, the most trusted man in America. I still remember seeing Neil Armstrong step off of the LEM, and utter those famous words. May it happen again, and soon.
mmoore
37. Margaret Rutledge
The moon landing was the first show I watched on a color TV. We had just returned to the States from Thailand, where my Dad served 2 years overseeing the construction of support facilities for the Army. We watched it at my aunt's house, and I fully expected the astronauts to sink to their knees because that's what happened in a Scrooge McDuck comic I'd read. It was amazing to watch and we were all glued to the television.
My husband watched it on the scoreboard at a White Sox game.
If you want to watch a wonderful movie about the moon landing, rent "The Dish." It's the story of the Australian dish telescope station that relayed the signals from the moon. Great flick.
mmoore
38. Justme
I love reading where everyone was and what they remember.

I was on vacation with my family in Canada watching on a tiny TV. While we waited, I was freaking myself out by looking at a picture of Kim Hunter in her Planet of the Apes makeup. It was a few weeks shy of my 7th birthday. I didn't discover science fiction until I was older.

The thing that impresses me most even now is that so many of the astronauts left the Earth as scientists and returned as artists. Science alone was insufficient to describe what they experienced.
mmoore
39. Alexandra Wolfe
First of all let me offer my congratulations to all the staff on Tor.com's first birthday, which nicely coincides with such a prestigious date in history. A day that forever changed my way of thinking, if not, my life, as a twelve year-old at the time. It made me realize that not only can we touch the sky, but that we could fly well beyond it too. Making me believe that one day we would actually reach the stars, as I so oft times read about in the hand-me-down SF novels my elder brothers and sister provided for my voracious reading appetite, way back then.

Secondly, I'd like to say a huge thank you to you and the contributing SF luminaries and their blog posts, sharing their thoughts and emotions on this celebratory day in history. They made for some heartfelt reading.

By the way? I watched every stage from lift off on earth, to moon landing, and subsequent lift off, through to splash down back here on earth, with my father on our tiny black and white TV, like so many more.

May we never forget any of these very special heroes!
mmoore
40. MzClovis
Congrats, Tor.com! And what a momentous event to coincide your anniversary with. Too bad I was too young to care about it. I was 10 years old in June of 1969, old enough to know what was going on if I'd cared to pay attention, and unfortunately I didn't. Of course, seeing in on TV over the years is still spectacular. How could it not be!
William S. Higgins
41. higgins
Brother Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Observatory astronomer (and friend of many at Tor Books)edited a new book, The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican.

He offers his own audio reminiscence of Apollo 11 at Vatican Radio.
Terry Karney
42. Terry_Karney
I just barely remember it. I am about as much older than moon travel than my grandmother was older than the airplane.

I can just barely, recall the images on the screen, in the July of '69.

I have talked with astronauts, and with those who helped to send them to space. I look at the photos, of Earth, radiant in the black of space, above the Moon's horizon (sputnik means moon, and companion), and I long... with a quite painful ache, to leave the Earth.

I recall hearing Fred Haise, in 1982, talking about the Apollo 13 Mission. Barely a decade after it happened. He'd been so close; and it seemed we were never going to be going again (there are times I think it's still never going to happen), and he talked about it.

About seeing the moon out the window, cold and scared and not sure he was going to make it home.

He glowed. The sight of the moon out the window, as if of a distant shore from a ship, the memory of it uplifted him, and me, and everyone else in the room.

Space, and the travel trough it... is distilled hope.
Irene Gallo
43. Irene
Torie,

Thanks again for putting this all together. As someone who missed the event (see @1) I seemed to have placed it outside of history and into a bubble all it's own. Reading people's every-day account of the day has placed it back into history and given even more emotional weight for me.
Tom Anderson
44. twocsies
A dash of cynicism:

Clarke predicted we'd have a "self-sufficient moon base" by 2001. But it turns out we can't even deal with the glass shards of moon dirt. At this snails pace, we won't even land on Halley's Comet when it swings back by us in 2061!
mmoore
45. jackfaze
We became space groupies, my sister and I, on 5 May 1961 when Alan Shepard, a local hero for us Granite Staters, (a.k.a. New Hampshire for you flatlanders) blazed a glory trail in the sky--the adventure had begun. We were free. We were full of hope. We could do anything. It was the best of times.

The moment is crystallized in my mind. On July 19th, the Apollo 11 command and lunar modules separated and the lunar module made its way toward the moon's surface. I had just turned twelve years old and it was going to be my sister's fifteenth birthday if only the thing would take just a a few more hours for it to happen. It did and it was perfect.

Yes, it was grainy, blurry and gray, but there it was. We were on the moon. We exclaimed at how clear the pictures were, how short the lag was between audio transmissions. Haw far away is the moon, again? 240,000 miles, wow.

We held our breath. Neil Armstrong seemed to bounce down the ladder in slow motion. He and Buzz Aldrin were chatting, tech-speaking to each other, to Houston, to us. And finally, he was down, a last little jump, and we were there, a little dust puff, a little flag planting, a little earthrise. It was awesome. And it was only just beginning . . .

And so it goes, do you have to ask how this event informed my relationship to science fiction? What do you mean, fiction?
mmoore
46. SpatialInSeattle
I watched the landing with my mom and cousin in NY on a black and white TV the size of my hand. The surface kept coming closer and rocks were all over and I thought they would crash and die on TV. Then Tranquility Base, here.

These guys bounced out the spaceship onto the moon and put up a flag and walked around leaving footprints. It didn't seem strange somehow because I had read so often about it. To me, life was catching up to where it should be.

A few days later I was looking at the moon and realized that guys were walking around up there with their feet, kicking dust like they were at the beach. It made me dizzy to think it was now a place like any other travel destination, a short voyage away.
mmoore
47. Surtac
I was in high school in the northern suburbs of Hobart, Tasmania. The school was essentially in a sort of lock down mode, with everybody in their home rooom listening to the radio coverage piped through the public address system. The actual landing was early morning pre-school, but Armstrong going on to the surface was about lunchtime locally where I was and we got to hear the live coverage as it happened - 'one small step' and all that. I've never forgotten it and it has informed my whole life since.

Why oh why is there no permanent Moonbase now? That's my major disappointment.
mmoore
48. Angela T.
Happy Birthday, tor.com!
Jason Henninger
49. jasonhenninger
Somehow I missed this post, in all the other amazing posts from yesterday. I just wanted to commend you on a beautiful tribute to an amazing moment in history, and also for gathering the incredible array of luminaries who wrote about it for tor.com yesterday.
Dan Dwyer
50. Lubrol
I can still remember my parents waking me up that summer night 40 years ago to watch the landing and first foot steps on another planet. Something that will always stay with me; amazing and surreal at the same time. And now it is so strange that 1. it seems like just yesterday and yet so many people I know didn't actually experience it and 2. that we have tucked our collective tails between our legs and slunk home after such a wondrous start. But, there is always tomorrow - different perhaps than envisioned 40+ years ago and equally different from that envisions by so many SciFi writers. But it is hanging there still, beckoning us up off of this one lone planet into the wider universe.
Mary Mac
51. MaryMac
Happy Birthday! Tor.com, Many Happy Entries in the Blogs of the Net.
mmoore
53. Curt Jarrell
The moon landing and exploration of the lunar surface occurred during my 13th summer. I had faithfully watched every launch of the Apollo missions leading up to this pinnacle event. It was a personal event for my family as well. My father was one of many who had a hand in assembling the cameras used on the mission, broadcasting those first historic images as man set foot on an alien world. We watched together on an old black and white TV, just the two of us, partners in pride and awe at the wonder of it all. It is a bittersweet memory for me now as Dad has passed away and our co-pilot on the voyage Walter Cronkite is now gone. In those first days of a young man's life when he and his father may not see things the same way they used to it was an unrepeatable event which united us in our love of the wonders of astronomy and technology and the potential of mankind to achieve incredible things through hard work and cooperation. And it made a bookish, nerdy kid see his dad in a whole new way in those shared moments which still touch me deeply to this day.
mmoore
54. filkferengi
Here's a video on that very theme to "Hope Eyrie," as close to a filk anthem as we have. It's by Leslie Fish, sung by Julia Ecklar. It's one song of many from the "To Touch The Stars" cd .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXteSV8rBwY&feature=related
mmoore
55. Debra Titus Zappitelli
Comment for MKS-
I was at the lycee in Rambouillet as well when we heard of the moon landing. Later we were able to view on a television.

Do you have memories of the lycee and its location? I was 15 and was there with the Foreign Study League as well. I was from a group from Bowling Green, Ohio. I remember the old pines and the beautiful campus. Later we went on to a small town and lycee near Nice. I remember the day of the moon landing and the sense of wonder felt by many as well.
mmoore
56. LenElg
I was 22 at the time, watching with around 70 other students in a dormitory in Stockholm, Sweden (with the time difference, I think we saw the landing around 4 a.m., and we had stayed up all night).

What sticks in my mind - and noone seems to have noticed - is when Armstrong announces, after a nailbiting audio silence: "Houston, this is Tranquility Base". With the change in call sign I knew they were down, before he continued: " - the Eagle has landed".
mmoore
58. John Rehwinkel
I had the good luck to be alive then (I was six at the time), and (better yet) living in Cocoa, right next to Cape Canaveral. We'd all go out with our beach radios and watch the Apollo launches, then run home and watch the re-runs on TV. Lots of people in Cocoa worked for NASA, and the whole place was alive with excitement for the space missions. Everybody was glued to their TVs for the moon landing. If you've seen the Apollo 13 film, they did a superb job of capturing the mood. While a space shuttle launch is wonderful, a Saturn V launch is absolutely incredible. There's nothing like it, and I'm glad I was there.

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