1969. On this day, humans finished the journey taking them completely out of their native environment, landing safely on our nearest solarian partner, the moon.
Now, with Space Shuttle Atlantis set to return from orbit, shelving plans for a new generation of booster rockets and craft, the United States is left with no way to put humans into orbit, apart from reliance on Russia.
In 1961, it would have been difficult to envision the ability to place Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on a celestial body 240,000 miles away, returning them safely home again. For space travellers encountering other worlds a million years from now, it will still be considered the very first step.
Yet, even more difficult to imagine than the Apollo missions, is the current US lack of vision and will, which is all but unfathomable.
We have trashed a significant area of leadership, preferring to hitch-hike and spectate, as the path to the future is increasingly trod by others.
Tossing aside standards of unparalleled excellence, we strive now to new levels of mediocrity. We have turned our legacy of making giant planetary leaps into the desperate hope of being helplessly carried aloft.