Don Ecker recalls the excitement of the Apollo moon shots and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the lunar surface — and wonders why we never went back. Is there something up there?
31 August 2012
(STARpod.us) — It was mere days from my 19th birthday when I watched the Apollo 11 touchdown on the moon.
It’s almost impossible to describe my emotions as I sat there enthralled by the impossible thing I was witnessing. My God! Two human beings, Americans, were landing on another world! It was like witnessing “Star Trek,” only for real, and it was coming to life. If we were landing on the moon, then how long until we landed on Mars, left the solar system for another star system? How long?
These were the thoughts racing through my mind as I watched this unbelievable event. Then he stepped out of the capsule, the first human being, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and told our entire planet that we came in peace.
“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon. We come in peace for all mankind.”
Of course, Viet Nam was still raging and I was soon to leave for my stint in the U. S. Army. Later, I was to go to that faraway land in Asia, but all that lay in the future — because, my God! We LANDED on another world!
“One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind” — indeed!
At that point the space race was roaring in full gear to a victorious finish, and the United States won that race. I and millions of other Americans, at that point, believed that there was not much that we couldn’t do — providing we put our collective mind to it. By then President John Kennedy had been dead almost six years, but we as Americans had met his unprecedented challenge.
On that day of July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong was just a couple of weeks from his 40th birthday and had already established quite a record for himself: A Naval aviator during the Korean War, a test pilot with flights in the X-15, Gemini 8 command pilot and now the first man to step out onto an alien world. And like a number of other astronauts after their lunar landings, for all intents and purposes he pretty much avoided the public, becoming what some might call a recluse after his lunar experience.
Apollo 11 was the first landing of six successful Apollo touchdowns. Apollo 13 was a successful recovery after a catastrophic accident that came very close to losing three brave astronauts, but NASA was in the “zone” and was able to get them safely back to Earth.
After a couple more flights, the wonderful and amazing Apollo program was shut down with nary a peep or explanation from NASA. And until the shuttle fleet was flying, the space effort was minimal, at best. Why?
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And what about the rumors that swirled around the Apollo 11 landing?
The rumors and published facts in U.S. newspapers stated that while in orbit, Command Module pilot / astronaut Michael Collins witnessed flashing lights on the lunar surface. Later — and I do not have a clue if it is true, but the rumor has been around almost since the landing — Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin witnessed large ships on a crater rim observing them on their lunar walk. (At a social event some years ago, Aldrin was confronted by my wife, then editor of UFO Magazine, and questioned about this rumor. He vehemently denied observing anything anomalous while on the lunar surface.)
When they came back, both men expressed being deeply affected by the experience. Armstrong withdrew and for a while Aldrin drank heavily. Was it only because everything in their “homeworld” afterwards was simply anticlimactic?
I began researching rumors of lunar anomalies in the early 1990s, and during that time I began collecting, mostly from NASA archives, some amazing photographs. Initially, many were copies of photographs as detailed by science writer George Leonard in his amazing book, “Somebody Else is on the Moon.” Almost to a man, the astronauts all denied that they ever saw anything that would or could be called “alien” on the moon. But I also knew Colonel Gordon Cooper, and before his death spent an afternoon with the Colonel, where he described his UFO experiences. Not all the astronauts were silent on that topic.
[Editor’s note: Although Apollo 14 moonwalker Dr. Edgar Mitchell claims the Earth has been visited by extraterrestrial beings, he denies rumors that Apollo astronauts observed anything ‘alien’ on the moon.]
What about Neil Armstrong? Prior to his recent death, Armstrong did make several cryptic remarks that might point to something unique that occurred or was observed during his moon experience. Now that he’s gone, we will never know. That might be a cautionary tale and an inevitability about the entire UFO / Alien / ET enigma: We may never know what the real facts are. And like the losses of our brave and beloved astronauts, that is a tragedy.
Copyright (c) 2012 Don Ecker. All rights reserved in full by the author. Page design and layout copyright (c) STARstream Research / STARpod.org / STARpod.us — All rights reserved.