[â€œWelcome to the Moon, Mr. Amstrong!â€]
With these words our intrepid Belgian astronaut greeted the U.S. Apollo 11 mission to the Earthâ€™s largest satellite a short 40 years ago today or tomorrow, depending on which side of the Atlantic you areâ€¦
â€¦and what a surprise they must have been to Armstrong and Aldrin, as they stepped from the Lunar Module! All that remains of the historic meeting is a single colour illustration (fortunately a tall thin blonde man stood silently in the background, sketching the occasion - only Belgians would forget a camera and take a cartoonist to do a lightning BD of such an event instead!).
All joking aside, the 40 years since I watched the first men walk on the lunar surface, in very grainy black and white, images which are etched in my brain. Sitting with my family and my cousins and aunt and uncle, at some wee small hour (Iâ€™d never been up so late!) the ghostly figures on the screen were as amazing as Doctor Who
, or Thunderbirds
or Lost in Space
- or even Tintin
Years later, I went to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and saw a Saturn V rocket, and a Lunar Module, and a Command Module, and sat in Mission Control while a simulated launch took place. I also saw a recording of Mr. Armstrong talking of his experience, and - perhaps best of all - touched a piece of the Moonâ€¦
HergÃ©, a long-time science buff and space fan, marked the event with a special cartoon panel
; he also was a correspondent of the very same Mr. Armstrong. Both are heroes of mine, and of others, so on this fortieth anniversary, Iâ€™m sure that I will be amongst many in recalling the event, and hoping that we return to the exploration of the solar system very soon.
Bienvenue sur la lune!