Fifty years ago this morning — Thursday, July 16, 1969 at 9:32 a.m. EDT — Apollo 11 lifted off from Cape Canaveral for the moon. I remember the moment vividly. I watched it from a little TV in our kitchen as I got ready to go out to my math class at summer school. I may have been a little late to the 10:00 a.m. class, but I wasn’t going to miss it.
The next day I went up to my grandmother’s place in Michigan where we watched Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon Sunday night.
What’s amazing is we did it at a time when computing was in its infancy — your average iPhone has more computing power than the Apollo 11 capsule and LEM put together. And we did it in eight years; from the first suborbital flight of Alan Shepard to Tranquility Base despite setbacks and tragedy. Yes, there was the pressure to beat the Russians, but it was also the drive to fulfill a goal that seemed so far out of reach that the only thing to do was to do it.