Flashback Friday: Apollo 11 and the Moon Landing

Sunday marks the 45th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing. The Apollo 11 mission was launched from atop a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969 from Cape Canaveral. The world watched as Florida became the focal point of everybody’s thoughts. As someone who grew up in a NASA family, I spent lots of time around Kennedy Space Center as a kid, attending numerous Space Shuttle launches before the Challenger disaster in the VIP area. But I had long wished I was older and had the opportunity to be around in those amazing days when we dreamed of great things, and went to the moon.

What our nation did between 1958 and 1969 was nothing short of remarkable. The rapid development of the space program was the greatest demonstration of American ingenuity, skill and determination. No other nation in the history of humankind could have made our moon landing happen in such a condensed period of time.

During this period  Brevard County swelled in population and relevance between 1957 and 1960 as engineers from all over the country flocked to the area. Cocoa Beach became one of the most famous places in the country. The best and brightest minds we would gather as a nation were deployed either to the Cape Canaveral area or to Huntsville, Alabama and the Marshal Space Flight Center.

The Mercury and Gemini programs had captured the imagination of the American public in a way nothing else had since the end of World War II. But the Apollo program which began with a fatal accident eventually moved the bar to another level. No longer was there a “space race” with the USSR but instead the world looked on with envy as to what a great nation could accomplish. So much of that work was done right here in Florida, by the men and women at the Kennedy Space Center.

The summer of 69 was an amazing time historically. The Moon landing was followed with five weeks by Chappaquiddick, Woodstock, Hurricane Camile,  the last Beatles recording and ” The Troubles” starting in Northern Ireland. Sometimes we feel we are living through history but that summer something seemed to happen every single day.

A video of the launch of Apollo 11 from Cape Canaveral is below




  1. The late 1960s and the early 1970s place Florida at the center of the country and much of the world. It was a great time in our country and for our state.

    In our state government, this was known as the Golden Age of Legislation. The state moved away from the Old South and bravely ventured into a new, enacting reforms that advanced open government and accountability. We were blessed with outstanding Governor’s including Ruben Askew, and later, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles.

    Since that time Florida has been governed mostly by non-natives Jeb Bush and Rick Scott. Rather than trying to lead the nation in a progressive manner, Republican government has moved the state backward in time in pursuit of parity with states like Mississippi and Alabama.

    The state has slashed education spending, eliminated accountability and encouraged legislators to earn millions as lobbyists, moving in and out of government at will and pursuing private interests through public positions. Their main legislative accomplishments have been drawing districts to ensure this combination of private graft and public power can continue to prosper. The focus has been on rewarding the state’s oldest industries and largest contributors, insurance and developers. The focus of much legislation has been on eliminating nearly all taxation on the wealthy while increasing the tax burden on the middle/working class, while slashing the services they depend on.

    Governor Chiles often stated that Florida was less of a community and more of a crowd. But, under Republican government Florida is less of a crowd and more of a tax haven for non-residents to claim domicile on their tax forms.

    In short, the Republicans, led by Jeb Bush, have turned what was a golden state into a national punch line. Comedic historian Colin Quinn recently opined, “Florida was settled by bikers and strippers back in the 1960s.” Floridians, like me, have become so jaded we don’t even have the will to fight the stereotype any more. It is, of course, the opposite of the truth, but after 16 years of the Republican experiment in Florida, it’s hard to tell the difference any more.


  2. Sad timing. The day after this post, we found out Space X is officially going to Texas for the biggest operation yet.


%d bloggers like this: