Monday, July 22, 2019
Editor’s Note: As the clock winds down on The Vindicator’s final edition on Aug. 31, we’re taking an occasional look back at how this 150-year-old newspaper memorialized in its editorials important events in the history of this nation and the world. To mark the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon, we republish the editorial of July 22, 1969.
Return of the Astronauts
The historic flight of Apollo 11 has been a series of crises – a series of tests – for the three courageous men in the command and lunar modules, as well as the engineers at Houston control center, and especially the equipment that has been devised to perform on bidding the intricate maneuvers essential to the total success of the moon landing epic.
Everything and everyone must perform flawlessly if this 24-billion-dollar dream of a human adventure of mythological proportions is to attain all the rewards that have been hoped for.
The crises – the tests – are not completed yet even though touchdown and blast-off for the return trip to earth have been executed without untoward event.
Millions around the world were tense Sunday afternoon as the lunar module descended toward the surface of the moon. The fact that it became necessary for the astronauts to change course slightly near the lunar surface in order to dodge boulders and craters of unexpected size and number was proof of the hazards accompanying the landing. The lunar astronauts discarded computer recommendations and finally selected their own landing spot and this was accomplished without a hitch.
So was the moon exploration assignment. The American flag was planted in the lunar surface, samples of rock and lunar soil were carefully picked up and stored in cases for return to the earth for scientific analysis.
Their work done, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin climbed abroad Eagle yesterday afternoon prepared for another critical test – the blast-off. Failure in that event would have left the two men stranded on the moon. But it worked, as everything has worked virtually perfectly so far, a tribute to the the skill and untiring efforts of the scientists and the workmen who have put together the space vehicle used in the Apollo 11 flight.
Then Aldrin and Armstrong kept their date with their waiting teammate, Michael Collins in Columbia. They docked late yesterday afternoon, subsequently broke from lunar orbit and now are on their way home.
Yesterday’s liftoff from the moon was a “go-for-broke” effort. If the rocket engine on which the two astronauts staked their lives had failed to ignite on signal, the two men would have been doomed.
Man’s first physical contact with another celestial body, little more than a dream in the mind of former President John Kennedy back in 1961, had become a reality. Collins, Armstrong, Aldrin and the thousands of scientific and other contributors behind them have proved it can be done. The last crisis in the series occurs slightly after noon Thursday when Columbia is scheduled to splash down in mid-Pacific. All Americans pray that nothing will develop at this stage to mar the successful completion of one of man’s great historic adventures.