A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.

- Lao Tzu

The journey of humankind, which began, from standing on his own feet crossed a remarkable milestone when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar Sea Of Tranquility on this day, 40 years ago. Buzz Aldrin followed him, while Michael Collins was circling the moon in the command module. The words of Neil Armstrong were beamed to 600 million people – a fifth of the world's population at the time who tracked the event on TV and radio. Americans were jubilant at this huge technological accomplishment, which marked their win over their bitter counterparts Soviet Union in the space race- a culmination of the Cold War.

The Moon, which has long been the source of inspiration for many a poets, artists and lovers was finally conquered by man. It spurred many new dreams – walking in the moonlight was a passé now people started dreaming of walking on moon. Apollo 11 mission became the harbinger of many technological innovations; it inspired and continues to inspire all those working in the field of space research. The success of Apollo -11 was crucial in deciding the fate of other space programmes.

The three moon astronauts will go down in history as the greatest astronauts of all time. School kids will have chapters in their science textbook describing this historic event. Each year we will celebrate the anniversary of the success of Apllo-11 Mission. NASA will release some video footages, images, or organize some events. Science clubs all over the world will hold special events to enlighten the kids about the space odyssey. Newspapers will publish yet another interview of the three astronauts. Some upcoming writer will write another biography of the astronauts. Buzz Aldrin may publish another memoir. We all will recall our experience when we first saw the pictures on man landing on moon.

Won’t we?

Why not, we will most certainly.

How about this: the three of them grew bore of this planet and decided to take a walk on the moon for a change. That explains why every inch of the newspaper articles is devoted to extolling the three of them.

Sadly, that’s not the actual state of things. (Trust me, I earnestly wish I could buy that over-the-top and outright ridiculous theory.)

How many of us know about Max Faget, the NASA chief engineer who didn’t deter his work in spite of his ailing health? About Charlie Mars who helped build the lunar Lander or Eleanor Foracker who stitched the space suit?

A mammoth project like Apollo was completed successfully only because of the lakhs of people who work determinedly and devotedly to complete it. From the space scientists who did extensive research and worked it out to the tiniest of detail , the engineers who designed the space shuttle & the heat shield, aerospace technicians, flight directors , camera designers, software experts, suits designers and testers, photo developers, ground operators, engineers and navigators to the workers, welders who actually built the space shuttle – the transformation from a mere idea on the paper to reality was possible only through the incessant efforts of countless number of people. However, the contribution of all these people gets pushed in the background and the three astronauts become the face of the Apollo -11 Mission. They are hailed as heroes but not a passing mention is made about the people who worked behind the scenes to assure the success of Apollo-11.

It’s a lot similar to the case of Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan merely ordered the construction of a mausoleum for his dead wife;the magnificent monument we see today was the culmination of painstaking efforts of hundreds of architects, laborers and artists. However, talk about Taj Mahal and we would hear more about Shah Jahan, Mumtaz;their love story & anything and everything remotely related to their love story but not a word about the men who actually built it. I pray that such a fate does not befall the unsung heroes of Apollo-11 mission.

I am not trying to undermine the achievements of the three astronauts – whatever they did is equally laudable.It takes enormous knowledge, experience, expertise, courage and determination to accomplish a task of such high caliber. However, let us not allow the contributions of all others go into oblivion. The next time we celebrate the anniversary of Apollo-11 mission, let us also remember all these great people.

This article is a tribute to the 4,00,000 men team whose dedication, ingenuity and perseverance helped man take the first step on that great gray rock in the sky. In memory of the greatest team ever……..