CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
"One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind," said Neil Armstrong to sum up the meaning of his short moon walk. It was the first time ever man set foot on the Earth's satellite. Armstrong, together with Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, onboard Apollo 11, took the US flag to the Moon. The deed was broadcast worldwide by television networks. In Venezuela, it was broadcast by Radio Caracas Televisión
The crew members of Apollo 11 were welcomed back on the Earth after completing their mission on the Moon File Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation / AP
1969, in addition to being a year of hippies, miniskirts,
infant formulas and women's emancipation, was also a time
of astronauts and cosmonauts. The space race between the United
States and the Soviet Union was at its peak.
On July 21, the United States scored a definitive victory by sending a group of men to the Moon, leaving a footstep with an US space boot and hoisting the US flag on lunar sand. To top it off, most of the population in the Western Hemisphere were able to watch it on television.
Neil Armstrong was the astronaut that took the first step on the Moon's surface. His brief walk was marked with a well-thought out phrase that lives on in history: "One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind." He also said that the satellite's sand was made up of very thin particles, making the walk easy.
The television screens clearly showed Armstrong with his backpack on moving about on the Moon. At times, he seemed to be jumping because of the loss of gravity in outer space.
In addition to Armstrong, the NASA mission was comprised of Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins. The first two performed exploration and collection activities on the Moon's surface and gathered 27 kilograms of mineral samples, while Collins was in charge of logistics inside the rocket ship that carried them, Apollo 11. The mission took off after eight long years of NASA efforts.
Days of mourning
On March 17, a couple of months prior to the great space deed, Venezuela mourned the loss of 150 lives in Maracaibo when a DC 930 Viasa airplane crashed only 30 seconds after taking off from the Grano de Oro airport.
The plane, carrying 74 passengers and 10 crew members, fell on four shanties and twelve houses, killing 29 persons. Another dozen homes were seriously damaged.
On April 5, Rómulo Gallegos, professor, author and politician, passed away. The government ordered a national mourning period for the author of Doña Bárbara and La Trepadora and other significant Venezuelan novels.
In August, actress Sharon Tate, wife of movie director Roman Polanski, was murdered by a satanic sect. The 26-year-old actress, who was pregnant at the time, was murdered along with Jay Sebring, her hairdresser, and Abigail Folger, heir to a coffee-farming fortune. Two men were also killed, but only one, Voyteck Frykowski, was positively identified.
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