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Then things started happening very rapidly, because we were approaching the Apollo era of sending men to the Moon. I was on the lunar operations working group for Apollo 8, 10, and 11. Apollo 11 was the one that landed. We briefed the astronauts on what targets they should image from orbit—they had very good cameras in orbit—and where to take pictures that would be of high scientific interest. All of that is up in the Space Imagery Center here.
Apollo, in my estimation, is the best thing that humanity has ever done. It was thrilling, because we thought the space program was going somewhere. We were reaching the Moon. Gene Shoemaker had told his students that you’ll be doing your PhD thesis on the Moon. That’s what we believed. It was what we all wanted—some of us wanted to go to the Moon,
but we all wanted to study the Moon and the planets. The whole world was listening. Even though the Commies, the Russians, were beaten badly, they were thrilled. The only country that I believe did not tell its people was Communist China. The rest of the world was totally engaged in Apollo.
To see Armstrong and then Aldrin get out, and of course you’ve seen probably the ghostly kind of images—the first TVs weren’t all that hot. Your heart was skipping. God, we’re down! Get the rocks, get the thing done, get back in and make sure you get back. It was so new and it seemed so dangerous that your heart was just in your mouth, so to speak, because you wanted it to succeed. I have all these fantastic memories of Apollo and the men on the Moon, and I envied them so much because I wanted to go. And I still want to go.
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