The first era of U.S. manned spaceflight ends, and we are the adults of this nation now. Armstrong and eleven other men visited the Moon, but those of us who were watching, as young as we might have been then, are the space generation.
Armstrong's death last week has evoked numerous gauzy tributes to his amazing courage. But romantic memories of that historic moment belie the real triumph for Armstrong, NASA, and our deeply conflicted nation of the late 1960's.
2012 is an inflection year -- the year we will and must decide whether the U.S. has the will and ability to lead the world in human space exploration. For me, I am betting we do -- and here is how I suggest we begin.
In the course of spending five weeks living in a city like Washington DC that's so popular with tourists, I couldn't help but think about the way different people have different reasons for visiting a site or attraction.
"As I stepped up onto the ladder, I looked back at Earth in all its splendor -- I call it sitting on God's front porch looking home -- then down at my last footprint and realized, 'Hey, I'm not coming this way again.'"
In the present uncertainties of the space program, a great transitional opportunity exists. As we reflect back upon the tragic loss of Challenger, we must rise to the challenge in the spirit of those who have so bravely shown the way forward.