By Hannah van Teylingen
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
The famous words spoken by Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, signaled one of the greatest achievements that us as humans would ever achieve, by sending three young astronauts to the moon in 1989. 51 years later, in June 2020, SpaceX launched another rocket into space and has achieved yet another incredible feat for space travel.
The SpaceX launch has been a much-awaited event, having been carefully crafted, funded and cultivated by Tesla founder Elon Musk, making history again by being the first private company to send astronauts into space and to the International Space Station that was solely used by NASA. It was also the first mission in nine years since the space station’s retirement and quite the sight to behold. Robert L. Behnken and Douglas O. Hurley, who are both ironically married to astronauts, were the two onboard the capsule Endeavour when it ascended and will orbit for approximately 110 days before returning to Earth’s surface.
Yet there was a change in the air since Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins landed on the moon in 1969. Today, due to the coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the world, there were no crowded fans, no warm embraces goodbye and no families waiting to see off their loved ones due to social distancing measures. Donald Trump, US President, uninterestingly watched the rocket take-off, while the rest of the world watched from their television screens. While the world witnesses their incredible journey through space, Earth’s surface remains far more ominous, with rumbles of Black Lives Matter, the continuous spread of an epidemic and uncertainty about what the future might bring.