When Americans became the first humans to walk on the moon, it was a point of national pride for a generation.
The Russians had been the first in space, but we put our minds to being the dominant force in space travel and did just that, leading author Rick Houston to remark about the Apollo program, “It was the greatest engineering feat of all time, hands down, without a doubt.”
Houston is the author of, "Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control." So it’s not lost on him that Dec. 19 was the 45th anniversary of the splashdown of the last manned moon mission by the US. That’s something Houston says we should all find regrettable.
“I think we lose vision. I think we lose what's next. I think, because of the cancellation of Apollo, we've been stuck in low-earth orbit, ever since,” says Houston. “I firmly - firmly - believe that if Apollo had not been canceled, that we would be walking on, if not living on, the surface of Mars, right now.”
That type of can-do spirit seems lost in much of America after Apollo. But five of the men who walked on the moon are still alive, today. We lost one who had, Gene Cernan, in January 2017 but not before he said something to Rick Houston that has stuck with Rick ever since.
“He said, 'I walked on the Moon, what can't you do?' And that's just an extraordinary quote and just saying it gives me chills, what can't we do, as a human species? What is next? Because we're here on earth, we've been to the moon, Mars is next. We have to go to Mars because that's what we do, as human beings,” Rick says.