Moon Shot Fever Over

SUBHEAD: Landing on the Moon seemed a big deal at the time... But it was not the future we planned.

By Juan Wilson on 20 July 2019 for Island Breath -

Image above: Colored pen drawing by Juan Wilson of campsite in Titusville Florida, on the Banana River, looking towards the launch pad for the first moonshot a day before the flight as the launch tower was returning to the VAB (Vehicle Assemply Building). Note mop pole and plastic sheet camp tent behind our rented Camaro. From (Moonshot Part III: Natives Witness the Launch).

It has been fifty years since I witnessed the takeoff of the first successful landing of humans on the Moon. At the time it seemed to be heralding a new future - but it turned out to be a blind alley... a dead end.

Just the year before Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated and the country was in a mood for good news. Throwing a wet blanket on the party was the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, who had succeeded Martin Luther King as leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Council. During the week before the moonshot Abernathy lead  the SCLC in a series of demonstrations titled the Poor Peoples Campaign march in and around the NASA Cape Canaveral launch site. Their rallying cry,
“If we can spend $100 a mile to send three men to the moon, can’t we, for God’s sake, feed our hungry?”
Instead of a Saturn V rocket the symbolic vehicle Abernathy chose to lead the demonstration was a conestoga wagon pulled by mules. I remember thinking at the time that it seemed so senseless and unrelated their effort.

Now I know better. Interest in the moon landings jumped the shark early on. Apollo 14 was the eighth manned mission in the United States Apollo program, and the third to land on the Moon. Interest in the Apollo series was waning. Fuzzy black and white images of grown men jumping around in the dust and desolation of the Moon got old fast.

Alan Shepard, in a feeble attempt to spark interest in the effort famously hit two golf balls on the lunar surface with a makeshift club he had brought from Earth. They did fly far but nobody really cared.

Surviving the next 50 years seems the real challenge for life on Earth now.

See also:
Moooshot Part I: A Rocky Road to the Cape
Moonshot Part II: Up Close to a Saturn V Rocket
Moonshot Part III: Natives Witness the Launch
Woodstock Forgotten: An alternate Adventure 

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