This photo is one of those images that has defined an era. It's also an image that changed the way we looked at things. From an orbit above the moon, we see the Earth in the distance.

 

During this week in 1969, Apollo 11 flew to the moon, landed two astronauts on the surface, and a few days later, safely returned them to Earth. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men on the moon. Their partner Michael Collins stayed in orbit.

We landed on the moon again with Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. That adds up to 12 - 12 men have walked on the moon.

Apollo 13 didn't land, but it is still a prime example of American ingenuity that actually added a certain lustre to NASA. We could've easily lost those three spacemen, but we didn't.

Apollo 17 was the last time we sent people to the Earth's satellite. That was December, 1972. Here we are in 2012, 40 years later. We have been active exploring other planets and objects in our solar system and universe, but the "manned missions" have limited to orbiting the Earth.

I watched the moon landings as a kid and I remember the excitement and pride. I did not get bored as Apollo 15, 16 and 17 happened. I'd like to see us go back - make it a national goal, be it a NASA project or a private enterprise. It may be some other country that lands on the moon next. Maybe a unified mission is possible, much like the International Space Station. Whatever....

Back to the photo.

We've had lots of photos returned from space. Our Voyager spacecraft set the standard for that and we're happy with images from Mars with our robot rovers there.

But this photo of Earth. It's different. It was snapped by a human, looking out a window, noticing that it might be pretty cool picture. His finger pushed the button at the right time and . . .