During a recent week, we celebrated the first full moon after the vernal equinox, better known as the full moon before Easter, as well as a lunar eclipse that was visible over most of North America. It was fitting and special during such an exciting week, that I had the opportunity to meet Astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon!
Twenty-three graduates of my alma mater, Purdue University, have gone on to become astronauts, including the late Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969 and Cernan, the last. Several of the astronauts were back on
campus with me to discuss their thoughts on the future of space exploration and scientific research. Given the recent political upheavals in Russia, I found it very interesting that the leader in space exploration is dependent on Russia to reach the space station. If the two sections of the space station were separated, the Russian section could sustain life, the US section could no
It was truly an “aha moment” to realize the risks these men and their families have endured. It is also amazing to think of all the technological advances our society enjoys because of space research – velcro, cell phones, freeze-dried ice cream (a favorite souvenir from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum), dust busters, and memory foam to name a few.
So, as you gaze at moon tonight, perhaps you might think about how we will continue this legacy of space exploration. Is private industry such as SpaceX the future, or will NASA get a second wind? For me, the good news is I can tell my grandkids, I truly met the Man on the Moon!