Fifty years later, Apollo 11 still seems out of this world

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America took a trip back in time and space this week to an event that changed the way we look at the world.
Apollo 11’s historic mission was must-see TV as it happened in 1969, and so it was again 50 years later on the anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. It was an epic milestone worth all the hype and press it received, both then and now.
I was only 6 when Neil Armstrong took that giant leap in space, so my memory is based entirely on archive television footage and photo images beamed back to Earth. The emotions of watching that scene unfold in real time, especially not knowing how the story would end, had to be incredible, intense, if not surreal, no matter what your age.
Even now, in 2019, watching the documentaries and reading in depth about this mission made those who lived it plus every generation born since realize just how simultaneously dangerous and exhilarating space exploration was at the time. And to think they accomplished such a lofty goal using technology now dwarfed by the cell phones we see as commonplace puts things in high-tech perspective.
What I also learned this week was that a well known Aurora man played a key role in providing some of the images the world saw back in 1969. The late Cliff Williams, who founded International Sensor Systems Inc., was truly a lunar pioneer in his day, working as part of a team that designed and built the LEM module. Hearing tales from his children about Williams’ work to help develop the camera systems that would ultimately be used to launch America into orbit and later provide Cold War surveillance images was truly fascinating. I encourage you to read that story in this week’s edition.
Today there is talk of a new breed of corporate astronauts going back to the moon and eventually to Mars, all of which would not even be a dream if it wasn’t for that successful lunar landing so very long ago. In that sense, JFK’s space race mission and Apollo 11’s success opened a whole new world of opportunities, and perhaps as importantly dared millions to think differently about their own human potential.
Kurt Johnson

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