Footprints on the Moon

Apollo 11 Logo

(Click here for “Get Your Ass to Mars” image)

It’s all about perspective; every great (or even good) artist knows that. Art educates. Education is the sending; the learning happens in the receiving: the re-schematization of received information.

Here’s an example of perspective: seeing Michael Collins, one of three members of the Apollo 11 crew, 45 years after his pioneering moon-landing mission, now an elderly gentleman wearing a t-shirt reading “Get your ass to Mars.” The whole image puts everything into a kind of perspective:

That life is short and people age. That those bitten by the space colonization bug never give up on their dream. The image says it all. This is the Art for me; the education.

Collins never set foot on the moon, but instead piloted the Command Module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin each spent around 2-1/2 hours on the lunar surface, collecting moon rocks and leaving oversized space-shoe footprints on the eerie powdery surface. I recall seeing the images as a 9-year-old on my family’s black and white television set. They seemed surreal. It was surreal that these men were on the moon to begin with, and even more surreal that through the miracle of video, these images, almost 300,000 miles away, came to us with only a few seconds’ delay. I remember the slightly asynchronous communication between the ground controllers and the astronauts. I also remember President Richard Nixon congratulating them from Earth for their achievement. I heard this on the radio. I later learned that Collins stayed the Command Module, a kind of orbiting taxi driver, waiting patiently for his fellow space travelers to finish exploring, before shuttling them back to earth.

I’ve been doing research on the Apollo 11 mission, having seen this picture. Collins designed the mission logo: a bald eagle with an olive branch in its talons, hovering over the surface of the moon. I like the significance of the olive branch. It signifies that our spirit of endeavor and exploration can best be served when we work together, as is demonstrated in the cooperative venture of the International Space Station, and the multi-nation partnerships into which NASA is entering in order to continue its engagement with the Great Beyond.