Over the past week, I tried on several occasions to engage with my kids about the first moon landing, culminating with a showing over “First Man" on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

Their reactions? Very little engagement, curiosity or interest, culminating with one of them taking off halfway through the movie to hang out with a friend and the other sticking it out for the full 2 hours, 20 minutes, but spending most of that time on her phone.


They know a lot more about NBA star Steph Curry — who last year said he didn’t think anyone had actually ever been to the moon — than about Armstrong. (Curry has since recanted, but his previous sentiment is shared by more and more people his age and younger. While it’s nearly impossible to find anyone older than 50 who thinks the moon landing was a hoax, fully 18 percent of those aged 18-34 embrace the conspiracy theory according to a SatelliteInternet.com survey.)

My kids aren’t alone. Young people aren’t nearly as fascinated by the moon landing and space exploration as the generation that grew up in the immediate aftermath of Apollo 11.

I’m not quite old enough to remember the moon landing, but I was well aware of NASA and the space program throughout a childhood that included books about space travel being some of my earliest library checkouts, a scale model of Apollo 11 that was played with until it was broken into many pieces, and an obsession with TV shows like “Star Trek,” “Lost in Space,” and “The Jetsons.”

I was certain that long before I would turn 50 we would have already colonized the moon and be making regular trips to Mars and beyond. Barely aware of the International Space Station and cognizant of the fact that no one has set foot on the moon since 1972, kids today don’t have the same mindset about the future.

Clearly, times have changed.

When President John F. Kennedy boldly asserted in 1961 that we would put a man on the moon by the end of that decade — not because it would be easy, but because it would be hard — it was inspirational. When President Donald Trump said he wanted us to be back to the moon in 2024 it was met with crickets. (Which is OK, since he seemingly changed his mind, via tweet, not long ago anyway.)

In the 1960s, getting to the moon took bipartisan support. Not everyone agreed with going and the arguments against it were similar to what you might hear today — why spend all that taxpayer money going to the moon when we have so many needs here on Earth? — but, for the most part, the quest was galvanizing and it brought not only Americans but the world together. I’m not sure anything can bring politicians or rank-and-field citizens together today.

All of which is a shame because I don’t think most of us understand the lasting impact of the missions to the moon. They produced a lot more than boxes and boxes of rocks and grainy footage of guys hopping around or hitting a golf ball on the surface of the moon.

According to NASA, technology developed in the quest to get to the moon produced or helped in the development of breathing apparatuses commonly used by firemen, defibrillators, solar panels, cordless drills and other portable chargeable devices, and digital imaging used in CAT scans, MRIs and radiography. That just scratches the surface.

The technology advancements, particularly in personal computing, that followed shortly after the moon missions were no coincidence. NASA pushed the limit and produced the best computers known to man and their breakthroughs — and the inspirational aspects — were at least partly responsible for so much of what came after, such as Apple and Microsoft and countless innovations in every walk of life created by scientists and engineers who were fascinated by space travel during their formative years.

Fifty years later, that’s quite a legacy.

Maybe explaining all of that would be a small step toward my kids developing some interest in space exploration? That’s probably a giant leap of faith. At any rate, I’ve enjoyed all of the coverage of the anniversary and I hope to see men and women on the moon again — while I’m still on Earth.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.