It was during the early hours of 21th July, 1969 that we watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descend the ladder of the Eagle and step onto the surface of the Moon.
The pictures were in black and white and they were, really, quite terrible. After a short transmission, contact last was lost. The dish, in Australia, which was relaying the event, had been operating outside of its normal working parameters because of a local storm. Eventually, the storm won.
But that moment was one I will never forget. What an amazing thing it was to witness the event being broadcast live; that famous ‘one small step for man’ that Neil Armstrong took made what had previously been science fiction, a reality.
Of course, subsequent Apollo missions went back to the moon and they took better photos. They played golf on the moon, rode around in the moon buggy and conducted various experiments including dropping a feather and a hammer to show that Galileo had been right about his prediction they would hit the ground at the same time.
We had the near disaster of Apollo 13 in which an explosion wrecked the mother-ship and the crew seemed doomed. But they were rescued because of the amazing level of teamwork that ensued, with both the crew and mission control performing faultlessly to get them back safely – without a doubt NASA’s finest hour.
It was wonderful to be growing up whilst all of this was happening and I still cannot wait to see a manned landing on Mars which, I understand, is also scheduled to take place within my lifetime.
But today, we pay tribute and bid farewell to Neil Armstrong, the man who took that famous ‘one small step’ as he finally takes that ‘giant leap’ into a new dimension of existence. Neil died two days ago, aged 82 years, on 25th August. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.