The landing of spaceship Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969 was surreal for many people around the globe. There were still people then who insisted that planet Earth was flat and refused to acknowledge the landing on the moon as either sacrilegious or fictional, and a made-up story by the US from A to Z.
Yet, the truth about the landing on the moon was borne out by science and empirical evidence that, in fact, the US was able to fulfill the pledge of the late US president John F. Kennedy in 1961 that a man will land on the moon and return to Earth safely "before this decade is out."
Commander of Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong announced to the bewildered and excited world on July 20, 1969 that the Eagle, the landing ship, touched down on the surface of the moon, by declaring to some 600 million people glued to their television screens that the "Eagle has landed" in the Sea of Tranquility, followed by his historic and memorable comment that the walking on the moon is "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin followed Armstrong down the steps of the Eagle and the two brave astronauts managed to walk the surface of the moon for two hours and 20 minutes collecting rock samples, leaving their shoe imprints on the sand and raising the US flag for the whole world to see and cherish.
Yet, this is all history by now, albeit still exciting and promising.
The flight to the moon opened a new vista of space explorations that awakened the mind and souls of mankind about the true place of our planet Earth in the vast universe. This helped us, or rather should have helped us, to view ourselves in the context of the universe rather than in the limited space and time of the Earth, and hopefully develop a cosmic perspective on mundane issues, including conflicts between nations.
Asteroid Apophis is most threatening, as it is scheduled to fly by Earth in 2029, only to navigate even closer to our planet in 2036. Astronomers fear the worse that Apophis may very well hit Earth and destroy much of life on it, however, the world is still in denial and unprepared to protect itself from the growing numbers of comets and asteroids moving in our direction.
Such a threat dwarfs all other global conflicts, yet not much attention is being devoted to it because the world is busy dealing with so many worldly conflicts and issues that renders it blind to the greater danger looming on the horizon.
We certainly do not want a repeat of the super-powerful asteroid moving at about 40,000 miles per hour, hitting the Gulf of Mexico some 66 million years ago and wiping out two-thirds of all life form in our planet, including dinosaurs. But should it happen, mankind must be prepared for the worse, by destroying or diverting such threats before they hit the surface of Earth.
Walid Sadi is a columnist for The Jordan Times
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