L’Homme sur la Lune, une leçon d’humilité

Le 21 juillet 1969, il y a cinquante ans, l’astronaute américain Neil Armstrong était le premier homme à poser le pied sur la Lune. Cette prouesse scientifique et technique nous a permis de mieux connaître notre satellite naturel et de mieux nous connaître nous-mêmes.

16 juillet 1969 : la mission Apollo 11 décolle de Cap Canaveral en Floride, aux États-Unis. La fusée Saturn V emporte la capsule Columbia et trois astronautes vers la Lune. L’objectif de la Nasa, l’agence spatiale américaine, est que ce soit un Américain à être le premier à poser le pied sur la Lune, devançant les Soviétiques. La course à l’espace entre les deux superpuissances bat son plein depuis plus d’une dizaine d’années, et l’Union soviétique peut s’enorgueillir d’avoir envoyé le premier homme dans l’espace, Youri Gagarine. C’était huit ans seulement auparavant.

Le 20 juillet, les trois astronautes américains, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin et Michael Collins se placent en orbite autour de la Lune et préparent l’alunissage du module lunaire Eagle. Le lendemain, le 21 juillet, à 2h56 TU, Neil Armstrong sera le premier à poser le pied sur la Lune, suivi par Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins restant à bord de la capsule. Ils réalisent un vieux rêve des hommes et une prouesse technique et scientifique inédite.

D’autres missions suivront, d’autres astronautes poseront le pied sur la Lune mais depuis le début des années 1970, les humains ne sont pas retournés sur le satellite naturel de la Terre. De nouveaux projets sont évoqués par les Américains mais aussi et surtout par les Chinois, nouveaux venus dans l’espace et qui ont l’ambition à terme d’être les premiers à fouler le sol de Mars, prochaine étape de la conquête spatiale.

Ce premier voyage sur la Lune, qui fait toujours autant rêver aujourd’hui, a permis aux scientifiques d’invalider plusieurs hypothèses sur sa formation et sur ses liens avec la Terre. Il permet aussi de nous confronter à nous-mêmes et à l’immensité de l’univers.

Le père Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya Eluo, jésuite congolais, astronome à l’observatoire du Vatican, à CastelGandolfo, revient sur les avancées permises et ce que représente ce premier pas de l’Homme sur la Lune.

Entretien réalisé par Xavier Sartre

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