Tomorrow is the forty-fourth anniversary of the day a human first walked on another celestial body, our Moon. So it’s only fitting and proper that we do this — offer our readers a spectacular shot of a heavy rocket, the Atlas V, carrying an enormous military communications satellite into orbit.
The Navy satellite built by Lockheed Martin weighs almost 15,000 pounds and will greatly improve the amount of data available to ground troops once it is checked out and running. It bears this very uneuphonious name: Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).
I once had the great honor of dining with Neil Armstrong soon after I started work for Space News. I sat next to him, with only four other people. Since I knew very little about the space business or technology I left most of the conversation to others (hard as that may be to believe for those who know me) until dessert came around.
Then I asked Armstrong what was going through his mind as he descended the last yards to the Moon’s surface and readied to become one of the most famous humans in our specie’s history. He detailed the checklist he had to go through, the intense management of the ship’s descent and the measures needed to get ready and then open the hatch.
He was an engineer and a helluva pilot and a gentleman. Let’s hope America regains its moxie soon and resumes humanity’s march to the stars so his act of technical excellence and courage does not stand unmatched.