A stunning anniversary just passed, and it's been on my mind all weekend.
On December 19, 1972, upon the splashdown return of Apollo 17, there were 12 men on planet Earth who knew what it was like to walk on the surface of our Moon. This fact remained true for true for 18 years and 7 months.
Then, in August 1991, James Irwin (Apollo 15) died of a heart attack at age 61.
In 1998, Alan Shepard (Apollo 14) died of leukemia at age 74.
In 1999, Pete Conrad (Apollo 12) was killed in a motorcycle crash at age 69.
In 2012, Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) died of heart failure at age 82.
Today, there are 8 men left who remember traveling to and working on the moon.
- Buzz Aldrin turns 85 years old in January.
- Ed Mitchell and John Young are also both 84.
- Alan Bean and David Scott are both 82.
- Gene Cernan is 80.
- Jack Schmitt and Charles Duke are both 79.
Even if the youngest of them make it in to their 90s or to 100, will they see another Moon mission? Or perhaps, as has been hot news this year, BEYOND the moon? Will they watch astronauts who are American or Chinese? Male or female? Who will be President in that era? Will it be just as inspiring to the world?
Some think we could pull off a Moon mission or beyond by 2020, though with how administrations roll, it will be more like 2025.
- At that point, Buzz Aldrin would be 95.
- Ed Mitchell and John Young would both be 94.
- Alan Bean and David Scott would both be 93.
- Gene Cernan would be 91.
- Jack Schmitt would be 90.
- Charles Duke would be 89.
So, when we go back, if we go back, will anyone alive personally remember what it was like to go the Moon?
Something to ponder.