LEGACY by the Associated Press.
The trip back to earth for Apollo 11 was quiet and restful, if not quick. With hardly a problem, Columbia flashed through earth’s sky and splashed down in the warm Polynesian waters of the Pacific at 12:50 p.m. Thursday, July 24, eight days, three hours and 18 minutes after it took wing at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
It landed just nine miles from the aircraft carrier Hornet and the eyes of President Nixon, on hand to greet the astronauts even if he could not shake their hands. They immediately went into the elaborate quarantine system, in which they would remain until August 11, to protect the earth from any possible contamination from germs on the moon.
Stretching endlessly beyond the moon is the ordered disorder of space. Nearest are the planets that keep earth company in shadowy orbits around the sun; and beyond them, the stars and the other solar systems of the Milky Way. And beyond, countless other galaxies yielding billions and billions of other suns.
How far can man reach?
How far does he dare dream?
Beyond Apollo 11 at least, 10 more men, Americans, would tread the lunar surface, the only ten in history. The future of space exploration, though dotted with sacrifice, would open doors to new understanding of life on earth and the mysteries beyond.
Man would put the most powerful telescope into space, beyond the distortion of earth’s atmosphere. He would discover new states and forms of matter. He would even safely shuttle men and women to and from a space station hurtling at nearly five miles per second around the earth. And the future today puts man on Mars, and perhaps even further.