This coming Wednesday it will be 50-years since the last human footstep was made on our Moon. On 11th December 1972, Apollo 17 arrived on the surface of the Moon. Although 10 Apollo missions were planned to step on our Moon only 6 were made. The last man on the Moon left on 14th December 1972. Eugene Cernan was the astronaut who made that last footprint.
This last week, I listened to an online lecture called: “Return to the Moon: “Apollo” for a new generation”. Professor Craig Underwood gave that lecture at Surrey University. He reflected on the success of the Apollo moon landing missions between 1969 and 1972.
Just as he did it gave me cause to reflect on the impact that space adventure had on my boyhood self. Those years from age 9 to 12 must have had a profound impact on not only Eugene Cernan but Professor Underwood and me. We each became electrical engineers.
We became captivated by the unbounded capacity of engineering to change the world around us. It’s true that’s a double-edged sword in that both positive and negative transformations can occur. Notably, we can see that with the current use of airborne drones. On the one hand they can be used to deliver medical supplies on the other hand they can deliver devastation in war.
Here in the UK, we have a lot to thank Gerry Anderson too. The creator of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Joe 90, UFO and Space:1999 had a market impact on both the Professor and me. Colourful fantasy it may have all been, but those stories captured the imagination a generation.
The British TV series UFO and Space:1999 envisioned a permanently stationed Moon base. The leaps of the imagination in the 70s were partly due to the real achievements of the Apollo missions. Maybe it was beyond us to have a working base on the Moon by 1999 but now it’s starting to become a practical possibility.
Today, Sunday, NASA’s Orion capsule arrives home. All being well, the spacecraft will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean after a 3-week trip around the Moon. I wish the project good fortune.
POST: Sunday 17:40 GMT. The Orion spacecraft, which is to carry astronauts to and from the Moon, has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after its test flight
 The Institution of Engineering & Technology