From movies to conspiracies: 50 years from the moon landing

Apollo 11 launched to the moon with 3 astronauts on 16th July 1969 and made its return launch exactly 50 years ago today!

It was indeed “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – and what a leap that was. It not only changed our definition of what we could accomplish but it also redefined pop-culture in its own image.

Truth be told humanity always looked up to the stars with ambition. For example, Jules Verne’s 1865 novel “From the Earth to the Moon” depicts Americans launching themselves to the Moon with a giant cannon, as cannons were a prominent technology in the American Civil War. A century later in 1965, during the civil rights movement, Star Trek showed an ethnically diverse crew on the starship Enterprise. This vision of different races harmoniously working together added to the optimistic tone of the show giving viewers hope for the future of spaceflight.

Ground control to Major Tom. David Bowie – One of the greatest, never forgotten.

Some of the influences of the moon landing in pop-culture are very obvious. In July 1969, the same month that Apollo 11 was landing on the moon, David Bowie released the song “Space Oddity,” about fictional astronaut Major Tom, who loses contact with Ground Control and drifts away. “Fly Me to the Moon”, the song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1964, was played on the Apollo 10 mission to orbit the moon. On the Apollo 11, it was the first song heard from the moon as Aldrin played a rendition on a portable cassette player.

While there are plenty of factual films about NASA’s various missions, the fictional ones have even more fun — they get to grab a few facts from reality and make up the rest.

The first Star Wars was released in 1977. In the same year, the thriller “Capricorn One” focused on a Mars landing hoax, but it was based on conspiracy theories claiming men never landed on the moon. 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” imagines that the Apollo 11 astronauts had found an alien technology that would enslave humanity. In “Men in Black 3,” Agents J and K jump between 2012 and Cape Canaveral in 1969 as they battle to protect the ArcNet, a shield against aliens that Apollo 11 is sending into space. And 2011’s poorly reviewed “Apollo 18” imagines a lost mission that reached the moon in 1974, only to find the moon rocks are really creepy-crawly aliens that infect the astronauts.

Other than that, the NASA missions led to a number of scientific and technological breakthroughs which we are still reaping the benefits of today. Furthermore, it inspired a generation to go into STEM. These people then helped create the Internet Revolution, our smartphones and so much more.

Nonetheless, the greatest legacy of Apollo 11 is the ambition to dare to move forward. That “[w]e choose to go to the moon and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
JOHN F. KENNEDY
The man who started America’s mad dash to the moon with a speech: President John F. Kennedy

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