The service structure (right) rolls back.
The countdown proceeding smoothly, July 15, 1969,
the day before launch, perhaps the last day of an old era, the eve of a new human epoch.
The Mobile Service Structure, the all-embracing network of work platforms encasing the rocket
like a stage curtain is pulled back.
The Saturn V stands alone, looking, in the words of CBS commentator Eric Sevareid,
“like a modern Gothic cathedral.
“Nothing can ever be the same,” Sevareid says, the veteran newsman
proclaiming the moon landing a new stage in the evolution of the human species.
So it seemed, on the eve of launch.
Many voices spoke as if the world and humanity would never be the same after the flight.
NBC’s David Brinkley said, “If this isn’t a permanent, enduring event, nothing is.”
In Time Magazine Arthur C. Clarke, wrote, “The moon is only the first milestone on the road to the stars.”
Newsweek published a cover story proclaiming the beginning of “The Moon Age.”
In all the excitement, all the optimism, success seemed assured. As if before the Saturn V took flight, we were already standing on the moon. And on our way to the stars, no less.
Amid all the enthusiasm, then and now in memory, we tend to overlook the opposition at the time, that the money could be better spent, needed to be spent on earthly projects. Newsweek may have called their issue, “The Moon Age,” but one article asked “What’s it to us?” with the subhead, “In the time of Apollo, a nation beset by doubts about space — and about itself.”
No less a space fan than Walter Cronkite wondered, would we push out into the universe or retreat?
And so it was, and so it has ever been.