A Giant Leap For Mankind

Dear all

Forty years ago to the day, mankind made a giant leap. At around 8.17 pm GMT on 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. A proud moment - not just for NASA or the US - but for humanity as a whole. Many missions followed, yet, we know precious little about the moon till date. India's own Chandrayaan mission is an attempt to fill the blanks.

NASA has put together a special microsite to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. Use Google Moon to explore the areas where the Apollo missions landed. Listen to interesting bits of conversation between the astronauts and mission control - or a real-time playback of all communications. Round it off by watching footage from the Apollo 11 mission restored to a higher quality. (Guess what? A company owned by Anil Ambani's Adlabs was the one which restored footage for this 40th anniversary celebration!)
The Apollo 11 moon landings inspired a whole generation. For that one fleeting moment, it united all we earthlings with joy and a sense of achievement-despite all the differences that we maintain. It inspired a generation to opt careers in science. It galvanised research and development-especially in electronics and computing. Think where we all would be without computers! And yet, the pioneering astronauts and mission control-men had precious little than calculators to play with. Despite this, they achieved something which was thought to be impossible earlier.

Some people ask why do 'poor' countries like India spend money on space exploration when there are problems to solve on earth itself? The pragmatic answer is that it encourages research into multifarious fields. Research which not only has applications in space exploration but also enriches our daily lives; be it medicine, materials engineering, electronics, mechanics, management paradigms etc. Many youngsters get inspired to opt careers in science - and that too not just 'core space exploration fields. Read what Barack Obama had to say about this.

Apart from these pragmatic reasons, we do this because we can. Humans have the gift of curiosity, the gift of trying to understand the environment around. This childlike-wonder for the world around us has made us what we are today. It is the primary reason why early men invented fire, designed tools, and we have a civil society today. Join in the celebrations on this historic occasion.




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