July 20 is an important date for NASA and for the world. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the Moon. NASA celebrated the 38th anniversary of this incredible feat by organizing what we hope will be an annual event called First Footprints. First Footprints came together in a very short period of time due to the dedication and hard work of NASA employees at Headquarters and the participating Centers.
First Footprints featured wonderful events such as the Grumman Apollo Lunar Lander Team participating in a panel discussion at Headquarters. Ames held a public event in the Ames exploration center related to the Houghton crater expedition. Johnson celebrated the grand opening of the Saturn V building.
The centerpiece of First Footprints was a showing of the award-winning film In the Shadow of the Moon at Ames, Glenn, Goddard, Headquarters, Johnson, Kennedy, Langley, and Stennis before it arrives in area movie theaters next month. The film features archival footage from the Apollo program interspersed with interviews of many of the Apollo astronauts who share their memories and impressions of the Apollo years.
We owe a debt of gratitude to ThinkFilm — producers of the In the Shadow of the Moon. ThinkFilm and its director David Sington dedicated hours of their time to arranging logistics and traveling to Washington and Centers around the country in order to present their work to the NASA family.
At the film showing at Ames, Jim Arnold, an engineer who worked at Ames during the Apollo era, gave a few remarks at the beginning of each showing to tell people what it was like at NASA during these missions. At Headquarters, I was given the distinct pleasure of introducing Mr. Sington, who took questions from the audience on the making of the film and his experiences with the astronauts.
David told me before we went to the auditorium that a showing of the film in the Midwest had resulted in spontaneous applause at several points throughout the film. For those of us who love space, it is heartwarming to hear such a reaction in the heartland of the country. I mentioned to David that I was disheartened because I had been reviewing some blog entries someone sent to me and they were all about the theory that the Moon landings were a hoax. For those of us who were alive during those Apollo missions and watched the events on television leading up to the first landing, it is inconceivable that these missions were staged and filmed on some Hollywood set. There is no way anyone could realistically keep the lid on a hoax of such epic proportions. In listening to the stories of the astronauts interviewed for In the Shadow of the Moon, their honesty and down-to-earth natures come shining through and you have no doubts about the personal experiences they are recounting. I don’t want to give away too much, but this issue was explicitly addressed at the end of the film.