This panorama was put together from high resolution scans of photos taken on 20 July, 1969, just after the lunar lander Eagle touched down on the Moon. That was long before the majority of Americans alive today were born.
The photo used to create the far left of the panorama is the first picture taken by a human being on another world. Thruster nozzles can be seen in the foreground on the left. The shadow of the Eagle is visible at the far right. The large, shallow crater on the right has a diameter of about 12 meters.
It’s the 47th anniversary of the first steps by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. I remember watching Armstrong step onto the Moon while I was lying in my bunk at Ft. Bragg. I was in basic training, and President Nixon had given all federal employees the day off to watch the event. That gave those of us in ROTC Basic a day off which I mostly used to catch up on some sleep. A buddy woke me just in time to see the big event.
Back then, I figured we’d have a permanent base on the Moon and be sending missions to Mars by the second decade of the 21st century, but we’re still stuck in low Earth orbit. Robert Heinlein’s stories such as The Man Who Sold the Moon assumed that space would be developed by private enterprise. It appears that he was correct. I’m betting on SpaceX to get a man to Mars before any agency of any government.
On 20 July, 1969, I got a day off from basic training at Ft. Bragg to watch the first men set foot on the Moon. This picture was taken from a window of the Eagle, the Apollo 11 lunar module. It shows the footprints in the lunar soil left by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Probably a billion people on planet Earth joined me in watching Armstrong step from the lander onto the surface of another world, making that live transmission one of the top-rated television shows of all time.
In the foreground on the right, a rocket nozzle on the side of the Eagle can be seen in silhouette. The TV camera is beyond the American flag, remounted on a stand to better view the landing area.
The Apollo missions to the Moon have been described as the result of the greatest technological mobilization in history. We haven’t been back to the moon for almost 40 years.
If you check with some of the conspiracy sites out on the Internet, you’ll find some that maintain that the Apollo lunar landings were hoaxes staged in a studio. Indeed, the soundstage required was quite impressive. BTW, do you know why the Apollo 11 pictures were black-and-white and the later “missions” were in color? Not all of the soundstage was complete for the first “landing,” and there was a dust control problem. The pictures had to be kept monochrome so that the red dust wouldn’t be obvious. You see, to keep the studio hidden from the public—it was built on Mars.
On 20 July, 1969, I got the day off. I was in basic training at Fort Bragg, and the President gave all federal employees (including us ROTC cadets) the day off to watch the Apollo 11 landing. I was 21 years old. I was 24 years old when Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission. I’m 64 years old now, and no one has been back to the moon during my entire working career. Two generations of astronauts have restricted to low earth orbit.
This picture was taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed floor of the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discovered orange lunar soil. The Apollo 17 crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than was returned from any of the other lunar landing sites. Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk on the Moon.