35 years ago, two men came within 20 seconds of dying 250,000 miles away.

Hours after averting tragedy, a very young Eric Gunnerson got to stay up late to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

I was 5.

I've always been a bit of a space nut, and my memory is full of important points in space history:

  • Armstrong and Aldrin's lunar landing
  • Apollo 13
  • Apollo Soyuz
  • Skylab
  • The first flight of Columbia
  • The last flight of Challenger
  • The last flight of Columbia

But watching NASA the last 15 years makes me sad. Despite some good efforts to reform the culture and get back to the kind of organization that recovered from Apollo 1, NASA has not suceeded in reforming itself, and it's stuck with a hugely expensive shuttle and a space station without a clearly-defined purpose. The unmanned and astronomy programs continue to be excellent, but manned spaceflight has lost it's way.

At this point, I think you'd get a better result if you cancelled two shuttle flights and gave Burt Rutan and Lockheed Skunkworks the money for one flight, and let them work to advance the state of the art.

But having said that, I would like commemorate the dedication and sacrifice of all those involved in Apollo. Many sacrificed money and their family relationships to the cause. Some gave their lives. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in the Apollo 1 fire. Charles Bassett, Theodore Freeman, Elliot See, and Clifton Williams died in training mission plane crashes.

Here's hoping that this is not the last time that humans will walk on other worlds.