We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, September 12th 1962-
The huge white and black tower that was Apollo eleven sat beside the iconic red girders of the actual launch tower in the warm summer sun of July sixteenth, nineteen-sixty nine. Dozens of mechanical arms crisscrossing vertically up the gap connected the two, many thick pipes spanning the rocket and the tower delivering the mighty Saturn Five its life blood of liquid oxygen.
The crew picked for the legendary mission consisted of Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar module pilot Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, and Command module pilot Michael Collins, sat inside of the mighty craft. Anxiously awaiting the green light. They didn’t have time to worry, they only had one thing on their minds. Going to the moon.
Clouds of white fog rolled off of the rockets skin, as the insanely cold innards condensed when it met with the warm sun that bathed Cape Canaveral. Ponies and humans stood at the safe zone more than a mile away from the pad, unable to come closer due to the wide river separating the two locations.
Respectable men and women, clad in their Summer outing wear either stood near the banks with cameras, or sat in the bleachers that had been erected for the momentous occasion. Excited Earth and Unicorn ponies stood or sat with them while most pegasi hovered overhead. All however were intently focused on the gleaming white tower in the distance.
Equestria had first made contact with humanity years ago in the early fifties, and while that was a momentous occasion for both parties, the ponies' stories of sending one of their own to their moon had inspired the residents of Earth. Now, almost three decades later, after countless failures and sadly, sacrifices of life as well as the competition from the Russians. It was Earth’s turn.
From a cloud sitting as close to the border of the safe zone as possible was one of Equestria’s greats. Three time saviour along with her friends of their world and the only pegasus to ever pull of the legendary sonic Rainboom, Rainbow Dash. While all of her friends had come along they had resigned to stay on the soil leaving the excitable mare to herself.
The young pegasus had seen much in her short life so far, but when she had first visit the human world at just age eight with her parents it was unlike anything she had ever seen before. Huge towers of concrete and glass that rose to the the heights she only ever was at whilst flying. Amazing flying machines so powerful and awesome, yet at the same time, sleek and elegant pulling maneuvers at speeds even the wonderbolts could scantily hope to achieve.
Maybe that’s why she had pushed herself to fly even faster and higher. The ponies had inspired the Humans, and now, the Humans inspired her. When she had first heard about the plans to go to the moon without the aid of magic she was promptly shocked and incredibly proud of the bipedal race.
Sure, she knew that they had done some awful, irredeemable things in the past, but it was just that, the past. All the wars, death and hate were but a small blemish on what humanity could do, and were about to do.
With all that she had seen from them, she still managed to find herself absolutely amazed when they continued to push the envelope. She had no doubt in her mind, that if there was a race that could do it, it would be the Humans.
“Four. Ignition sequence start.”
From the concrete pad at the center of two worlds' attention the single most ambitious and downright amazing feat had just begun. The five monstrous F-1 rocket engines lit up. Unlike most expected, it wasn't with a roar or a bang, it was an ungodly, earth shattering rumble that those for miles around could feel rattle their souls.
Two great clouds of white exhaust erupted sideways from the gaps underneath the pad, shooting their plumes high into the air. Angry black smoke and vicious flames burst forth from the boosters up around the Saturn Fives body, before being promptly extinguished and sucked back underneath the rocket.
The magnitude of the vibrations that were product of the immense power, began to shake loose the ice that had frozen to the side of the craft. Thousands of particles of ice and water rained down in a haze along the rockets body. When they neared the extreme heat of the engines they instantly melted, drenching the pad.
The small delay between firing and launch had now allowed the first stage engines to roar into full operation. The sound was unlike anything imaginable.
The arms of the tower suddenly disconnected, breaking their hold on the Saturn and swinging to the side away from the craft. The tail service masts hung on till the very last moment, until they finally released, cutting the electrical charge they gave to the rocket. Now, without anything holding it back, Apollo eleven was all systems go.
Three hundred and sixty three feet of absolute power slowly rose from the pad, as if in slow motion. A hellish glow illuminated the rocket from beneath making all else appear as if it were dusk. Ice continued to fall from its hull into the fiery pit. The tail service masts that were firmly bolted to the pad, had no chance of escaping the volcanic force from the engines, instantly turning them from N.A.S.A white to charred black.
Shooting clear of the red girder-work tower, the brilliant pillar of pure white flame was exposed to the spectators eyes. Without the huge concrete pad to block the force, the shockwave from the engines raced across the Florida coast. Even from their position a mile away all those who were watching from the stands and the skies felt like they had just taken a fastball to the gut.
The sideways shaking was unbelievable, the vibration was so intense, the astronauts couldn’t see the instrument panel just in front of them. It was so powerful that they believed that something must have failed.
Higher still, the worlds most powerful, expensive and complicated machine continued to accelerate. Balanced on a pillar of five thousand eight hundred degree flame. Seven and a half million pounds of thrust continued to push the rocket into the reaches of space.
Just a minute after launch, Apollo eleven was already supersonic and still accelerated. Vapor cones formed all over the ships sides, but they were nothing compared to the huge cone of white that surrounded the focus point of flame at the rockets base.
Faster, the unmatchable acceleration of the craft continued to lift the men inside towards the floating orb that was the moon. Twenty tonnes of fuel a second was greedily consumed between the five engines until the first stage had been sucked dry.
At forty miles above the planet, the second stage commenced. A huge bang sounded, the spent tanks and faithful F-1’s dropped away as the second, smaller rockets lit up.
Back on the ground, ponies and human continued to gaze skyward. Their necks locked in position and their eyes never leaving the beautiful rocket that had become a sparkling star in the blue vastness.
The Element bearers chatted animatedly amongst themselves about the spectacle they had just witness, yet Rainbow Dash just sat there.
Perched on the edge of the cloud, with the forehooves in the air she leant back as far as she could. Her brilliant, charismatic magenta eyes had, for one moment in her life, taken on a very rare appearance.
Here she was. An alien in a world of aliens. A creature that had existed for far longer than humanity and had mastered flight when they simply dreamed of soaring through the skies.
And now? Just sixty two years after they had first achieved real flight, they had already long surpassed pegasi and were entering the annals of legend.
Three men. One of which who would go on to be the first human being to walk on the surface of another planet had achieved what it took an almost god-like, sun princess to do to one pony, and had used the majority of her power to do so.
Yet there he would be. A country boy from Ohio, planting footsteps on another cosmic body. All the while it had been achieved without aid from pony magic. Simple, honest, human ingenuity and persistence had won the space race. But most of all.
Humanity was never afraid to go to the next step. Never afraid to test their limits. Never fearing leaving their comfort zone. Years ago, a pony Anthropologist had stated that:
‘Humans were constructed with a hole in their hearts. A never ending chasm, yearning to be filled. It seems horrific, and in some ways it is. But it is this hole what makes them so amazing.’
The slowly fading mechanical star that sat high above Rainbow Dash at that moment was truly a testament to that statement. Never once in her life had she felt such pride for one other than herself.
In a few moments, Rainbow Dash would finally look away from the rocket. She would dismount the cloud and glide down to join her friends in conversation about the event. But for one fleeting moment in her life, she slowed down.
She stopped. She stared in wonder, amazement and awe. An unmistakable shimmer in her eyes told anyone who may have been looking that she was utterly entranced. The fire of determination and fierce, competitiveness was now accompanied by a single tear of astoundment rolling down the fur on her cheek.
She didn’t even notice the slip in her demeanor. For once, she didn’t care what she looked like to others, she was simply and utterly enthralled by the launch.
This single event was enough to drastically alter her entire outlook on her future choices she made. These hairless, wingless humans had managed to simultaneous fly both higher and faster than she could ever dream.
Instead of making her mad, or jealous. She felt only resolve. That she would, one way or another, do what they did. Maybe she wouldn’t walk on the moon, but there was more out there amongst the stars than that.
The sonic Rainboom she had created as a filly was the highlight of her entire life. When she had done it a third time at the royal wedding she was elated to find that she could pull them on command.
But now, Space seemed to be the next step. The Wonderbolts didn’t even compare. Astronauts were just as, perhaps even more famous than any stunt flier.
It was at that moment. That single millisecond of existence. That fleeting moment that would only ever occur once in the entire lifespan of the Universe that Rainbow Dash made a decision.
She would prove herself to humanity.
She would show them true pony power, she wanted to show them that she was just as good as they were. That she could call herself a honourary human being. She wanted to be them and for them to accept not only her, but all of ponykind.
The moon landing would show that despite humanities flaws, they were gods among the ponies. Rainbow Dash would be a key factor in balancing out this inequality.
Many ponies that knew her wouldn’t have picked the tom-colt pegasus from Cloudsdale to be one of the leading revolutionaries in pony-human relationships, but when the time came and Rainbow Dash became the first pony to walk among the stars.
Two worlds would never be the same again.
In memory of Neil Armstrong, August 5th 1930 - August 25th 2012
“Houston, this is Neil. Radio check.” The voice of the commander called through the relay.
“Neil, this is Houston. Break, Break. Buzz, this is Houston. Radio check and verify TV circuit breaker in,” Bruce McCandless responded from his position at mission control, a quarter of a million miles away.
“Roger, TV circuit breakers in, and read you five square,” Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin chimed.
“Roger. We’re getting a picture on the TV,” Capsule communications called back.
“You got a good picture, huh?” The lunar module pilot asked.
“There’s a great deal of contrast in it, and currently it’s upside down on our monitors, but we can make out a fair amount of detail.”
“Okay. Will you verify the position- the opening I ought to have on the camera?” Edwin asked.
The picture flickered to life all across the globe. Millions upon millions of people and ponies all turned their attention towards their fuzzy TV sets. Weather they be at home, on the street looking into a store, or in a bar watching with a drink in hand.
Or in Rainbow Dash’s case. Huddled around the screen with her five other friends in their high-class hotel room, sitting a scant few inches from the fascinating box.
The six elements, plus both princesses had travelled to Earth to witness the event, seeing as there was no way for television signals to be broadcast between the worlds. Rainbow was elated to discover that the landing was not only televised, but that they had also scored a room with a TV in it.
“Okay. Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now,” the voice of capsule communications said in it’s telltale staticy voice.
The voice of the man, not ten feet from the moon responded. “Okay. I just checked getting back up to that first step, Buzz. It’s- not even collapsed too far, but it’s adequate to get back up.”
“Roger. We copy,” Houston replied for Buzz.
Rainbow felt giddy with excitement. To hear of the moon landing was one thing. To be privileged enough to see it? Rainbow had never felt luckier in her life. Back on Equestria, bearing witness to an event like this would have probably only been reserved to nobles and those who could afford to attend a magical screening. Yet here on Earth, it was being broadcast around the entire globe, for all to witness, free of charge.
“It takes a pretty good little jump,” Neil Armstrong commented, bouncing up and down on the ladder of the lander.
“Buzz, this is Houston. two- one-one hundred sixty th second for shadow photography on the sequence camera.”
Neil spoke up. “I’m at the foot of the ladder. The Lem footpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained, as you get close to it. It’s almost like a powder. Down there, it’s very fine.”
The astronaut approached the lunar soil tentatively. The entire world below them held its breath for the upcoming event. Never had an event been so anticipated before throughout the entire planet.
“I’m going to step off the lem now,” Armstrongs radio crackled.
One human nine-and-a-half-sized pressurized boot found its way onto the surface on another world. The weight of a living, breathing human being was being supported by the orb that had so long taunted them from the night sky.
“That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.”
There they were. The words that would be forever remember. The single most memorized and quoted phrase in human history. The words that would stick with humanity for the rest of the races existence. The words that, for one brief, shining moment, unified the planet.
Since the dawn of humanity, they had only sped up. Forever developing, inventing, discovering. Looking back was considered irrelevant, their greatest asset was their minds. Progress was survival, and this gave birth to anger.
Disagreements turned into arguments. Arguments to fights. Fights to war, it just got worse and worse. But, on July twentieth, nineteen sixty-nine. It all paused.
A single man had achieved peace. If only for a few moments, he had done what world leaders had failed to in the entirety of history. And he had done so, by doing one simple thing.
He walked on the moon.
“And the—the surface is fine and powdery. I can—I can pick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles,” the moonwalker continued.
“Neil, this is Houston. We’re copying,” Bruce spoke up from his seat at CAPCOM back on Earth.
“There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps easier than the simulations at one sixth G that we performed in the various simulations on the ground. It's actually no trouble to walk around. Okay. The descent engine did not leave a crater of any size. It has about one foot clearance on the ground. We're essentially on a very level place here. I can see some evidence of rays emanating from the descent engine, but a very insignificant amount.”
“Okay Buzz, we ready to bring the camera down?”
“I’m all ready. I think it’s been squared away and in good shape,” Edwin responded.
“Okay. you’ll have to pay out all the LEC. It looks like it’s coming out nice and evenly.” Buzz commented.
“Okay. It’s quite dark here in the shadow and a little hard for me to see that I have good footing. I’ll work my way over into the sunlight here without looking directly into the Sun.” Neil said as he began to work upon the Lunar Equipment Conveyor.
“Okay it’s taunt now.”
Buzz looked over. “Okay. I think you’re pulling the wrong one.”
“I’m just- Okay. I’m ready to pull it down now. There was still a little bit left in the-”
“Okay. Don’t hold it quite so tight,” Buzz cautioned.
Neil began again. “Looking up at the lem, I’m standing directly in the shadow now looking up at Buzz in the window. And I can see everything quite clearly. The light is sufficiently bright, backlighted into the front of the lem, that everything is clearly visible.”
“Okay. I’m going to be changing the ***” Houston never did catch that part, but it didn’t subtract from the power of the event.
“Okay. The camera is installed on the RCU bracket, and I’m storing the LEC on the secondary strut.” Neil spoke.
“I’ll step out and take some of my first pictures here,” he added.
“Roger. Neil, we’re reading you loud and clear. We see you getting some pictures and the contingency sample,” CAPCOM chirped, however Armstrong failed to respond. Too lost in the moment.
“Neil, this is Houston. Did you copy about the contingency sample? Over.”
“Roger. I’m going to get to that just as soon as I finish these picture series.”
Buzz spoke up from inside the module, “Okay. Going to get the contingency sample there, Neil,” he repeated.
“Right,” Neil replied, making his way over to the sample.
“Okay. That’s good.”
“Okay. The contingency sample is down and it's ***. Looks like it's a little difficult to dig through the initial crust.” Neil commented, his message garbling slightly.
“This is very interesting. It's a very soft surface, but here and there where I plug with the contingency sample collector, I run into a very hard surface, but it appears to be very cohesive material of the same sort. I'll try to get a rock in here. Just a couple.”
“That looks beautiful from here, Neil,” Buzz commented from the window of the Lunar Excursion module.
“It has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States. It's different but it's very pretty out here. Be advised that a lot of the rock samples out here, the hard rock samples, have what appear to be vesicles in the surface. Also, I am looking at one now that appears to have some sort of phenocryst,” Armstrong replied.
CAPCOM chimed in. “Roger. Houston. Out.”
The rest of the broadcast continued much in the same fashion. Buzz soon joined his partner upon the surface, and both engaged into the set task they had been given. All the while, Rainbow sat glued to the screen. Some of her friends, mainly Rarity and Fluttershy had lost interest, watching the grainy images. Rainbow and Twilight were riveted firmly to the soft carpet floor, watching every detail they were given.
The visuals were simply amazing. Rainbow had a hard enough time trying to wrap her head around how they could film something, then put it into this tiny box. All without using any kind of film or projector.
Another layer of mind boggling assaulted the mare when she tried to figure out how they did it wirelessly all the way from the moon. Twilight had tried to explain it was being picked up by some Radio receiver in Australia, but that just confused her more.
Finally, Applejack spoke up. “Ah don’t see why this is such a big deal. Ah mean, we did this a thousand years ago, without no fancy science.”
Rainbow looked over to the Apple farmer like she had grown a second head. “Are you serious, AJ? This is the most amazing thing i’ve ever seen! They did this! These humans”- she pointed to the TV- “Did what pegasi have only fantasied of doing!”
“Yeah, but Luna did it,” Applejack responded, clearly not seeing how much this occasion meant to the mare.
“Yes because Celestia used the elements to banish her there! We put a princess on the moon one thousand years ago as a prisoner. We used it as a cell, and we’ll never see it any other way!” She shouted.
“Here, though,” she quieted, “the humans see it as a place of wonder and excitement. A goal for everypony to reach for, just because it’s there.”
Twilight was a surprised by Rainbows words. “That was really inspirational, Rainbow,” she said with a soft smile,
Rainbow returned it. “It’s just so awesome, ya know? There are guys walking on another planet without magic. And they’re up there just because their president wanted them to. I think that is so amazing,” she trailed off.
“I think Dashie’s got the hots for humanity!” Pinkie chimed in a sing song tone.
“S-shut up! I don’t! I just think their cool is all.”
“Aw, I didn’t think you were into inter-species relations Rainbow,” Twilight chuckled.
“Geez you guys are annoying!” Rainbow shouted, wings spring open before launching herself out the nearby window.
Finding a nearby cloud, she huffed down on it. She layed there for a while before rolling over onto her back, to find Twilight floating above her, suspended by a magical field.
“I’m sorry Rainbow. We were just joking. Personally, I think it would be cute if you found a nice human male,” she said sheepishly.
Rainbow groaned. “No Twi it’s not that!” She called up.
Sensing Rainbow had something else on her mind, she quickly cast a cloud walking spell on herself and dropped down beside her pegasus friend.
“So what is it then?”
Rainbow, paused for a moment, before turning to Twilight with a determined expression.
“I wanna go to the moon.”
Twilight was taken aback. “What? Why would you wanna go there? It nearly drove princess Luna insane,”
Rainbow groaned again. “I thought you were listening, Twi! Everypony sees the moon as a bad place. I wanna change that. I wanna go there and show them that if we put our minds to it, we can be just as good as the humans!”
“Oh so thats what this is about,” Twilight smirked. “You’re jealous!”
“What!? No I’m not!”
“Oh ho ho this is too good! The mighty Rainbow Dash is jealous of some hairless apes!”
Rainbow did a double take. “That was a bit harsh, Twi.”
Twilight stopped laughing as the words registered. “Oh my gosh it was! I-I don’t-”
“Save it Twilight, you grew up around Shining Armour, we all know he's a racist,” Rainbow cut her off, with some truth to her words. It was no secret her brother did not favour the bipeds.
“So Dash,” Twilight spoke up. “You want to be the first pony in space. Without magic?” She asked.
“Yeah,” Rainbow said with a smile, looking skyward.
“What about the Wonderbolts?”
“I dunno. I’ve always wanted to be one of those, but an astronaut? Sign me up.”
“Okay so... Why? Why become the first pegasus on the moon?” Twilight enquired.
Rainbow searched her soul for an answer, finding a single sentence she had said earlier.