Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Loyal Fijian salutes Apollo 11

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being since the dawn of time to set foot on another "planet" (For all you kids,( especially journalists and public servants), The moon is now recognised as not actually a planet in the strict sense of the word).
Man and woman had conquered the final frontier.
Since the dawn of time, man (and woman) had looked up the the night sky, seen the moon and the stars and wondered.
July 20 1969 must rank as one of human kinds finest days.
What we can achieve if we put our minds to it and of course if the Government has a spare 20 billion in today's money it always helps.
What an achievement as Neil Armstrong and  Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
The moon landing was significant in more ways than one. The Americans had beaten the Russians and a large part of the aura that surrounds American power and prestige today can be traced back to their historic achievements of July 1969.
They had done what no one else could. The had taken on what only a year prior, had seemed impossible. And they won. Americans have reaped the dividends of this achievement for decades, not only in research and development, but the pride that comes with being a citizen of a nation that can achieve the impossible.
Where are you from? America, the land of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
And rightfully so too. Good on you.
There is another side to this story however. And it would not be a Loyal Fijian article if we did not give you all sides of this story.
You see after WW2, The Americans and the Russians were amazed at the advances in rocket technology that the Nazis had been able to achieve. So began a mad scramble for blueprints and scientists.
When the Korean War broke out, the Americans unveiled their first jet engine aircraft modelled entirely on Nazi blueprints of the Messerschmit, the first jet fighter, expecting total dominance . Amercian pilots returning to base however, claimed that they were being attacked by their own aircrafts. It soon became clear that the Russians had also got their hands on the same blue prints and developed their own version of the jet fighter , identical in appearance to the Americans.
The Americans brought to America Nazi scientists who had worked on the V2 rocket program and set them to work on developing American rocket programs. Yes, made in America but with lots of Nazi brain power.
There are also naysayers. The narrow minded among us will say that we need to spend the money here on Earth. If it was not for the Apollo missions we wouldnt have had the advances in aircraft construction technology, wireless transmission, and countless other spin offs to come from the space program.
There are those who fear the loss of their power, their explanation, their ideology on what lies above may come under question as people dare to think and question.
There can be no denying.
What an achievement,
Loyal Fijian pays tribute to men and women, American and Russian who dreamed to make the impossible possible.
(Spare a thought for Michael Collins who got so close but had to stay in the space craft that orbited above. Boy, talk about almost but not quite.)

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