40 years since one small step

Forty years ago today, man first walked on the moon and, all over the world, the media is rightly commemorating this spectacular event. At the time, I was a 21 year old student at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957 when I was nine, so I spent my early years following excitedly each step of the so-called space race and I was certainly not going to miss Apollo 11.
In July 1969, I had just started a one-year sabbatical period as full-time President of the UMIST Students’ Union and I secured the permission of the Institute to keep the student union building open all night so that any student who wished could witness the moon landing live. Of course, all the undergraduates had already gone home, but around 50 postgraduates stayed up with me to witness this hugely historic event.
The actual landing was at 9.17 pm our time and at 3.56 am Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, followed shortly afterwards by Edwin Aldrin. Meanwhile Michael Collins circled the moon in the command module. It was an occasion never to be forgotten as ghost-like figure floated across the television screen like cartoon characters.
I had no sleep at all that night and continued to follow the media coverage during the following day. I waited until the blast off from the moon at 6.54 pm before I finally went to bed at 7.45 pm. Mission accomplished.

One Comment

  • Dan Filson

    “all the undergraduates had already gone home” – bar me, for one (and a few others too, I thought, though term was over).


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