For those few people who do not know, Neil Armstrong was the first person on the moon*: a procedure that involved putting him and two other men in a metal can, putting the can on top of a mound of explosives, then setting off the mound. That got them on their way: the can landed (a couple of hundred thousand miles later) via the setting off of more explosives – after, oh yeah, breaking in half. Deliberately. One on the ground – the airless, boiling hot/freezing cold ground, since space is one of those places where a single mistake can kill you** – Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked around for a bit, put up the flag, and were generally “Hey. The moon.” Then they went back up on yet another mound of explosives, met up again with Michael Collins, and went home. In short: not exactly a job for the timid.
And why did we do it? Because we’re the United States of America, and we damn well felt like it.
*What’s that? We didn’t go to the Moon? It was all a fake? Mr. Aldrin, could you rebut that argument, please?
**I originally wrote this as “where a single mistake will kill you…” until I remembered that we had one of those with Apollo 13, and the astronauts made it home anyway. BECAUSE AMERICAN ENGINEERS ARE NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH, THAT’S WHY.