Wired magazine has a cool feature about the Apollo 11 landing, including one writer’s list of 10 things that made it awesome. Everything on that list reflects the worldview of the time but five other things were omitted and deserve mention – no doubt, left off due to space constraints:
• Tang: Powder that turns into a brightly colored, orange-flavored drink. That the astronauts drank in space and on the moon — how cool is that? Space food sticks, on the other hand, never caught on. Sort of like Tootsie Rolls but squishy and less chocolate-y.
• HP calculators: The most powerful pocket calculators available when I started college in 1978, and reputed to be better than what the astronauts took to the moon.
• We all agreed on what to watch on TV: Apollo predates electronic TV remotes; children were the channel-changers. Family unity on what to watch made life a LOT simpler. Of course, all the major networks (3) covered the Apollo program so the choices were between Walter Cronkite and the other anchors and their teams of experts. Oh, and we can’t forget about their plastic models of space ships and planets — they made our school dioramas seem so professional!
• Moon rocks: Endlessly fascinating when they were picked up with those long-handled grabbers, put into the bags, loaded onto the lander, blasted off for home. A piece of stone that wasn’t from Earth. Here.
• A generation of kids who thought engineering was cool, even if they didn’t feel brave enough to be astronauts. Each of us could be one of the guys in the control room since there were a lot of those but only a few astronauts. Brains, not brawn. Cool.