Monday, July 21, 2014

45 Years Years Ago...

I'll let Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy tell you this story:
45 years ago today — and for the first time in human history — human beings set foot upon another world.
It was one of the proudest moments in America’s history, arguably the proudest. Despite being initially motivated by small-minded territoriality, it ironically brought our planet together, with people all over the world watching breathlessly as Neil Armstrong placed his boot on the desolate surface of the Moon.

And yet here we are. It’s been 45 years since we put men on the Moon and 42 years since the last men left it. We’ve not gone back since, at least, not with humans. Sure, we’ve made a lot of progress about living and working in space: We’ve launched several space stations, put over 500 people into space, and built countless satellites and space probes. I’m fully aware of the awe-inspiring achievements we’ve made, and how much they mean.

Phil, and I, lament that those first halting steps have never been followed by other human tracks.
But still, there is a hole in that picture. All of those people we’ve launched into orbit haven’t gone more than a few hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The yawning chasm between the Earth and Moon hasn’t seen a human in it for over four decades.
When I look back over the time that’s elapsed since 1969, I wonder what we’re doing. I remember the dreams of NASA, and they were too the dreams of a nation: Huge space stations, mighty rockets plying the solar system, bases and colonies on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. Those weren’t just the fantasies of science fiction. We could’ve done them. Right now, today, those dreams could have been reality.                                                                 
Instead, we let those small-minded human traits flourish. We’ve let politics, greed, bureaucracy, and short-sightedness rule our actions, and we’ve let them trap us here on the surface of our planet.

You should read the entire post, here.  That night in 1969 as a 17 year old kid, I was at my girlfriend's house watching those grainy black and white images on the TV.  I recall needing to beat feet to get home by my curfew but not wanting to miss a moment of the coverage.  That night I fell in love with astronomy.

Today, looking up at night at the moon and beyond inspires me to dream about space travel and what it would represent for our species.  

Instead, we remain here on an increasingly overcrowded planet that we are poisoning to death while politicians pretty much are sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "La la la la..."  

Just think about last week's main news stories--Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and Israel's invasion of Gaza--and tell me that we humans are getting it  right.

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