Apollo 11 launch instilled

love of space exploration

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

July 16, 1969, the early morning was warm on the east coast of Florida. I was 7 years old, full of wonder and anticipation.

As 9:32 a.m. approached, nothing prepared me for the impact of that moment. We were miles from Complex 39A, the huge rocket looking like a small twig sitting on the distant horizon. As the launch began I could see smoke billowing from the massive Saturn V as it defied gravity, heading toward the moon. The most indelible impression left on me was the ground rumbling beneath my feet. The immense amount of power being displayed left me awestruck.

For me, the launch of Apollo 11 instilled a love of all things related to space exploration. I followed the remaining Apollo missions, Skylab, the Pioneer and Voyager probes and the space shuttle.

All of us benefited from those programs, even those who thought it was a waste. We have all heard the comment, “Why spend money on spaceships and astronauts when it could be better spent here on earth?” In order to send men to the moon and probes to the outer planets, scientists and engineers had to create tools and technology that did not yet exist. Space programs stimulated innovations that brought us more spinoff benefits than can be mentioned here. It was well worth the cost.

It is reassuring to see a renewed interest in space exploration. India recently stepped into the current space race, soon to launch its second moon-bound craft. Joining the United States, Russia and China, India has no doubt seen the importance in continuing to explore beyond the confines of our small home. Tied to that desire to explore the heavens could very well be the answers we need to solve the difficult challenges facing us now as a species.

James C. Lankford.

Glen Allen.

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