Celebrate Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary by Landing a Woman on the Moon

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon launch.

My whole life, I have been captivated by anything that has to do with space exploration. Growing up, we had Time-Life books all over the house. I thumbed through them all, but it was the stories of the space race that were my favorites.

I probably got that from my dad, who is a chemist with a life-long interest in current events. Dad was in college when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. “The Russians put a meaningless satellite into space, but that meant they were ahead of us,” Dad told me. It was clear that didn’t sit right with him—or most of the country at the time.

So, when President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade, people really rallied around the idea. My dad went on to work with the chemical separation of metal at a company that received a direct order for materials that were used in one of the Apollo space flights.

In 1969, the whole world was watching as Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins left the earth.

After traveling nearly a quarter of a million miles over the next three days, Apollo 11 entered lunar orbit. Then, on July 20, as an estimated 650 million people held their collective breaths, Armstrong and Aldrin landed the lunar module “Eagle” on the surface of the moon.

Now, there’s a new moon mission afoot. It’s named Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the moon and Apollo’s twin sister.

NASA says that Artemis “personifies our path to the moon as the name of NASA’s program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first woman and the next man.”

Since Apollo 11, twelve men have landed on the moon. Of the more than 500 people who have flown to space, less than seventy have been women. Businesses that are diverse produce better results. I would be willing to bet that the same holds true for trips to the moon.

In this week of celebration of that first historic step on the moon, let’s each take a moment to encourage all the young people we know—but especially the girls and young women in our lives—who are excited about the solar system and space exploration. The possibilities are out of this world.

P.S. A great way to get young people excited about space at an early age is Story Time from Space, a video library of fifteen titles and growing, read by NASA crew members. It’s way more compelling than my collection of Time-Life books.