Slide Rules, Genius, and Guts
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others too.”
With this quote, President John F. Kennedy challenged America’s brightest and most courageous to achieve what many even today would say is impossible—landing and stepping foot on the moon. In fact, some even doubt whether it ever occurred. For baby boomers like me, there is no question that it occurred, because we lived through the events that were the stepping stones on the path to Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” A statement made 50 years ago this past July 20th.
Imagine traveling 238,900 miles, unfolding a landing vehicle and separating it from the command module in order to land on the moon, picking up samples, re-entering the landing vehicle, launching it off the surface of the Moon, reconnecting with the command module, and returning home with a computer onboard that only had 36K of memory and 1 Megahertz processor. The key to this achievement was an iterative process of taking the next step toward the ultimate goal. The President had laid out the challenge, but the know-how didn’t even exist yet. The fact that we didn’t know how didn’t deter our nation from pursuing and achieving the objective. In less than eight years, with only slide rules, genius, and guts, America sent two people to walk on the surface of the Earth’s Moon.
There is so much that still needs to be accomplished. So many challenges that still need to be addressed. What fueled the passions of amazing astronauts and engineers was a love of country and the Cold War. We needed to be first to plant the Stars and Stripes on the dusty and rocky surface of the Moon. As I write this, I wonder if we still have it? Do we still have the “right stuff” to achieve the perceived impossible? I think we do, it just needs to be awakened.
Please join Marisa and me for Episode 111 as we take a closer look at what was accomplished 50 years ago and might still lay ahead for us to achieve.