Jealousy is a green eyed monster, or so said Othello. Well, my eyes burned a deep forest green this week when I heard that two of my colleagues were invited to hear Neil Armstrong speak at the launch of Microsoft Vista in Dublin. Had I known he would be there, I would have found a way to wangle myself onto the guest list. My enthusiasm stems from the books I have read this year. In mid-summer I read Andrew Smith's excellent "Moon Dust" followed by "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts" by Andrew Chaikin. Both books left me in thrall of that enterprise. It really was a breathtaking accomplishment and one that is utterly unsurpassed. Chaikin's book was best for getting to know the missions beyond Apollo 11. Without doubt, my favourite must be Apollo 12. Just listen to the chatter between (commander) Peter Conrad and (pilot) Al Bean as they bobble around on the lunar surface. Bean regularly calls his boss 'Babe' (You've got it, babe!) while Cernan hops around whistling "Dum de Dum de Dum" to himself! Their genuine friendship and happiness at being part of Apollo stands out so clearly. And think, in about 10 years time somebody will step onto the moon again. I bet all the test pilots, scientists and astronauts in America are furiously jockeying for position! Indeed—although a mission to Mars is years away yet—it is just possible that the first person to visit that planet is already alive in North America. Having said that, he or she is probably more interested in Sponge Bob Squarepants at the moment, than Orbital Mechanics!

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