Man stepping on the moon is one of the most celebrated human achievements of the 20th century. On July 20, 1969. American astronaut and aeronautical engineer Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 Lunar Module Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon. The next day, the duo spent two hours thirty minutes outside the spacecraft while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module. Armstrong’s famous quote onto the lunar surface was “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”. Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon.
Five decades ago, as astronauts travelled to the space for the moon, The Free Press Journal covered the report closely along with rest of the world. This week as the moon landing event completes 50 years, The Free Press Journal looks back to that era. The July 21, 1969, front page of the newspaper titled ‘Man Lands on Moon’, provides a detailed account of the event, what actually happened and a lot more.
‘Sea of Tranquillity’
Reaching for the limitless expanse of space, man today arrived on the Moon, which has beckoned to him nightly throughout the ages. It was the glorious moment yet in the saga of the Son of Adam: He had broken out of the confines of the planet to which he had been bound since birth for his first look at the universe from a celestial body.
It was yet another thrilling act in the cosmic drama which began a dozen years ago: Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin (Jr.), the newest heroes of the space age, had landed in the waterless 'Sea of Tranquillity' on the Moon's cratered surface, ready to set foot on it - and walk into hall of fame.
For the two men, who went ‘in peace for all mankind’ it was a fulfilment of a dream countless generations of mankind had dreamt, of a commitment President John F Kennedy had made when he declared landing on the Moon this decade and bringing him back safely a national goal of the United States.
‘No More Inspiring’
Despoiled by the footsteps of man, the Moon can never be the same again.
The golden disc may appear and disappear in the distant sky as though man’s approach has made no difference to it, but it has lost forever its grand role as the inspirer of legends.
Poets may still extol it as a symbol of love, beauty and tenderness, but the flight of fancy evoked by the ever-changing and yet constant Moon in the minds of early man will never occur again. The Moon figures in the legends of all races.
The traditional Hindu belief is that the Moon emerged from the Ocean of Milk when the gods and demons churned it for the elixir of immortality.
According to legend, the moon had 27 wives, all daughters of King Daksha, but he chose to lavish his love on one of them, Rohini. When the other 26 complained to their father, the enraged Daksha cursed him and threatened to obliterate him. They then pleaded with him to spare their husband this fate. Daksha relented and decreed that while the Moon would steadily languish to the point of vanishing it would revive and grow again, hence the waxing and waning of the Moon.
Read the Original Coverage
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, the July 21, 1969, issue of The Free Press Journal is available below.
(Compiled by Sonali Pimputkar)