Fifty years ago, when he was 10 years old, Dan DeMars of Norwich joined millions of television viewers around the globe to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing.
“It was a Sunday afternoon, about 5:00 p.m., and my dad said, ‘This is a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your life’,” he said. “He was right.”
The Apollo 11 mission was manned by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On July 20th, 1969, Armstrong and Collins became the first people to walk on the moon.
The extraordinary achievement sparked a lifelong interest in DeMars, who through the decades has become something of an expert on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini & Apollo programs. And although he doesn’t have an academic or professional background in space, DeMars shares his passion with students at the OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth.
This spring, he presented a course called Mercury, Gemini & Apollo: NASA’s Golden Age, A 50‐Year Retrospective. DeMars presented a condensed version of the course Wednesday at the Norwich Public Library.
DeMars said he was looking for a “conduit” for his extensive knowledge when he contacted the OSHER program, a nonprofit that offers educational programs for Upper Valley residents.
“They were thrilled that someone had this kind of background,” he said. “It was timely with the 50th anniversary.”
DeMars said that after President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 challenge, the nation was committed to making a successful moon landing before the decade was out. A similar commitment will be necessary to reach the next level of space travel.
“A collective passion, one that’s infectious, one that there’s a common goal that’s defined, and the spirit and the will and the drive, and, certainly, the budget,” he said.