Nation marks 50 years after Apollo 11's 'giant leap' on moon

In this July 16, 1969 photo made available by NASA, the 363-feet Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 crew, launches from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA via AP)

In 1969, a gallon of gas cost 35 cents. A gallon of milk cost $1.10. And a moon landing cost about $25.4 billion!

This month, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. It’s hard to imagine all the hard work and sheer genius that went into making this historic event possible.

If you’ve seen the movie ”Hidden Figures” (2016, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe), then you have seen a behind-the-scenes look into the world of NASA leading up to the moon landing.

All throughout my life, I have been extremely interested in space. I learned the names and the order of the planets before I could even read. As a result, I have read numerous books about astronauts, which helped me realize just how complicated and intriguing space travel is.

Recently, many new and exciting programs have been announced by NASA. Last year, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched in April. TESS is searching for planets outside our solar system, which may help us get closer to determining if there is life out in space.

Last August, NASA launched its first asteroid sample mission, which is called OSIRIS-REx. OSIRIS-REx will eventually arrive at a nearby asteroid named Bennu and collect a sample of the rock. It is planned to return back to Earth in 2023.

The Parker Solar Probe will “touch the sun,” according to NASA’s official web site, www.nasa.gov, meaning it will get extremely close to the sun. Launched in August 2018, this spacecraft is about the size of a small car. In April 2019, it completed its second close orbit to the sun, which tied the record of being the closest spacecraft to the sun.

NASA is also adding a new lander and rover to the Red Planet (Mars) fleet. The lander is called InSight and its purpose is to dig into the surface of Mars, which will help us determine how the Red Planet was formed and what it is made of; it may also shed some light onto the subject of (past or present) life on Mars. The 2020 rover will aid the lander in analyzing the planet’s surface while searching for microbial signs of life.

A new telescope — the James Webb Space Telescope — is going to explore and study all of our universe’s phases. This telescope is going to be the main observatory of the next decade, and it will help scientists gain much helpful knowledge.

Low space orbit is on the verge of being commercialized by NASA and its partners, which is enabling NASA to land back on the moon in the year 2024! NASA’s “Back to the Moon” initiative is getting astronauts on the moon to stay. The moon may eventually be used as a “stepping stone” to get to Mars, so the landing back on the moon is going to be very beneficial.

For more information on NASA’s space programs (and several inspiring videos), visit www.nasa.gov.

If you’re as excited for the moon landing anniversary as I am, I bet you want some ways to show your support for the great advances our country made with Apollo 11 back in 1969. Some interesting things I found to celebrate the anniversary are Moon Landing Oreos and Moon Landing Forever Stamps. I can speak from experience, the Moon Landing Oreos are adorable and they even come in a glow-in-the-dark package (they’re also very yummy!). As for the stamps, I saw several pictures of them and I will definitely be buying some at my local post office.

As a kid, I got the opportunity from Make-A-Wish to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. This was one of my dreams and I’d definitely love to go back; it fueled my space obsession.

I recently found some old videos of that trip and I was barely in any of the clips because I was running ahead of my family to see what was around the next corner. I’m not quite sure why, but I have always been drawn to the sky. There are so many things to learn from space and one thing I love about space exploration is how it brings people together. Something I think our world could use a little more of is an appreciation for space. Who knows, maybe I’ll be writing my next article from the cupola of the space station!

No matter who you are or how old you are, you can show your support for our country’s space programs by learning about them. Why not read an article and share it with a few friends? That would definitely be, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Sara Tesch is a recent graduate of Roy High School. She enjoys playing tennis, traveling and chasing down the perfect photograph. Contact her at hatchtowngirl@gmail.com.

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