Now here’s an amazing family travel idea–a trip to the moon! It’s possible to climb right in with the astronauts without leaving your living room, thanks to a new Web site launched recently by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The site, wechoosethemoon.org, commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and man’s first walk on the moon back in 1969. The site lets you virtually join the mission in various stages, using real time countdowns to each phase and incorporating interactive graphics. And it also lets you follow the action with updates on other sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.
The most impressive part to me is the radio transmission you can hear from NASA flight controllers in Houston to Apollo 11–it’s the actual recordings from the mission and you feel as though you’re part of the crew listening in to the action. Even thought I know the outcome, it’s hard not to hold my breath a bit when you hear them say they’re about to be out of transmission ability as they travel around the other side of the moon. The name of the site, we choose the moon, comes from a speech President Kennedy gave in 1962. During the speech he said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win.” Powerful stuff. And what a powerful site! I was born the year we walked on the moon, just one month after this historic event.
I grew up on the east coast of Florida, not far from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. I still remember our elementary school principal calling us out of our classes when a launch was scheduled so we could all walk outside and see the shuttle fly over our skies–high above us, but still visible–and never knew how lucky we were to be able to see such a thing first hand. I’ve seen video of the landing on the moon dozens of times in black and white and never really felt so much a part of it all until listening to the voices on this web site, tracking the activities by the minute. It’s hard not to get excited as the seconds tick away and the moon gets closer by the minute. “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” And now, this web site is one really great virtual adventure for my family and yours!