Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Truly The Final Frontier, I Trust.

Forty years ago today, Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to land on our only natural satellite, The Moon.

As for me, I was still in the womb, but my father informed me last night at dinner that he and my Mom were in Cedar Grove, New Jersey on July 20, 1969: visiting my grandparents on my mother's side (both now deceased), and glued to the television....along with approximately 500 million others.

In terms of genre entertainment, the Moon landing of July 1969 arrived barely a month after the last new episode of Star Trek ("Turnabout Intruder") aired on NBC.

Nonetheless, NASA's inspiring lunar accomplishment dominated the immediate future of the sci-fi genre on TV. For instance, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's UFO (1970) and Space:1999 (1975-1977) both posited the Moon as stepping stone to the stars.

I don't want to belittle NASA's sincere efforts in the forty years since the Eagle Landed, or the hard work of today's brave astronauts, but we desperately need to get back to space in an exciting way soon; not just to grapple with "flooded toilets."

Why? well, the answers to many enduring problems on Earth no doubt rest out there, in space. A new "space race" could bring forth amazing advances in technology, energy, medicine, transportation...the works.

But perhaps the most important reason for a serious return to space is psychological. There's a certain train of thought out there that the date July 20, 1969 represents the pinnacle of our civilization...and that the near half-century since has been nothing but slow, steady decline from that glorious apex.

I don't believe that for a second. With a little inspiration, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, Moonbase Alpha could be within reach. Just a decade or so late...

In cosmic terms, that's nothing.


  1. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Moonbase Alpha will probably a hundred years late. Today's space program sure isn't what was predicted in the 1960's. Many commentators have said that the Apollo program was really just a part of the cold war 'Space Race' against the USSR. Once the goal of beating the Soviets to the moon was achieved ...then what. Space travel is so enormously expensive. Can a 60's style Apollo program ever be justified again?

  2. A new likely space race will be between the USA and the PRC (People's Republic Of China), which will commence the next time China launches a man into orbit, or sends up it's own space shuttle. Of course, the real reason to go back to the moon will be the discovery of stable fusion power, and the need to have helium-3 to power the tokmaks that will be likely built to replace the nuclear reactors we have now.