Image by Vaguely Artistic via Flickr
"Three months after the landing, however, in October 1969, I began to wonder ... I was in Florida, at Cape Kennedy, the space program’s launching facility, aboard a NASA tour bus. The bus’s Spielmeister was a tall-fair-and-handsome man in his late 30s ... and a real piece of lumber when it came to telling tourists on a tour bus what they were looking at. He was so bad, I couldn’t resist striking up a conversation at the end of the tour."Sure enough, it turned out he had not been put on Earth for this job. He was an engineer who until recently had been a NASA heat-shield specialist. A baffling wave of layoffs had begun, and his job was eliminated. It was so bad he was lucky to have gotten this stand-up Spielmeister gig on a tour bus. Neil Armstrong and his two crew mates, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, were still on their triumphal world tour ... while back home, NASA’s irreplaceable team of highly motivated space scientists — irreplaceable! — there were no others! ...anywhere! ... You couldn’t just run an ad saying, “Help Wanted: Experienced heat-shield expert” ... the irreplaceable team was breaking up, scattering in nobody knows how many hopeless directions."
Several years ago I read an article that seriously questioned whether or not a project on the scale of Apollo was even possible today. It may well not be. It's an odd thing for someone from my generation to consider; that, for all sorts of reasons, the time and achievements of Apollo represent a high point, the very best, a peak of technology, will, project organization, and plain quality... Just memory, never to come again.