July 16, 2009, - 12:08 pm
America Failed to Advance in Space in 40 Years Since Apollo 11: Real Science & Imagination Replaced by Junk
By Debbie Schlussel
As you may know, today is the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission to land men on the moon. (It’s also the 64th anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic bomb in the new Mexico desert.)
It was the first manned landing on the moon and was commanded by Neil Armstrong and also manned by Buzz Aldrin, both of whom rightly continue to be American heroes to this day. They set foot from the Eagle onto the moon on July 20, 1969. I highly recommend the excellent, funny, entertaining documentary, “In the Shadow of the Moon” (read my review) documenting that and the other manned landings.
Unfortunately, while we put men on the moon several times, the American space program has failed in many ways. We haven’t done much since first landing on the moon.
Yes, American men landed on the moon another five times since. And we’ve sent many space shuttles out into the great beyond (with two of them, sadly, exploding).
But what else have we done? The many space shuttle launches are wastes of money. They don’t achieve much except garner results for a few experiments. That’s about it.
Forty years ago today, people envisioned a future with residential colonies on the moon, or at the very least somehow harvesting the moon for energy or some other resource. None of that has happened. And in fact, very little has happened in the 40 years since Apollo 11 or the five other manned landings. In fact, in terms of outer space exploration and colonization, we haven’t done much since Neil Armstrong set foot on that rock.
Sadly, in 40 years, the most creative “visions” regarding moon and space exploration are the stories concocted by loony conspiracy theorists who claim we never landed there and that it’s all a fiction perpetrated on a Hollywood set.
As someone who is fascinated by the universe and its planets and loves American history and sci-fi, our failure to advance further in space is a huge disappointment. But it should be a disappointment for all Americans. What held such great promise 40 years ago is now a broken promise.
Imagine the possibilities. Perhaps we could mine the moon’s surface for energy and tell our Saudi and other OPEC overlords to shove it. The recent sci-fi movie release, “Moon” (read my review), takes place in such a world (though the results are that of a contemporary “Twilight Zone” script, not a look into our likely or even possible future).
Perhaps we could discover ways to humanly set foot on Mars and harvest or colonize that planet. It’s not impossible. But the uncreative minds at NASA feel comfort in just doing the same old meaningless space shuttle missions. NASA has become just another government bureaucracy–another failed, bloated government bureaucracy. The pencil pushers and plain Janes and Joes who run the place lack imagination.
But it is not just the fault of the bureaucrats. It’s the fault of the American population, as well. Through our own fault, through the undying devotion to pop culture and lackluster education, we’ve become ignorant. And in this dumbing down, we’ve given up our fascination with the endless possibilities and freedom of real science–space exploration, for the a dangerous obsession and endless slavery to the neuroses of fake science–”global warming,” “climate change,” the “green movement,” etc.
Without a limitless vision and imagination on our own part and that of our government, there will come a day–and in many ways, we are at that day–in which Americans will no longer stand for funding a program whose modern achievements are nebulous. More and more of our support will, unfortunately, go to junk science.
And that’s why something new, something great, is needed in the U.S. Space Program. Something beyond eating packaged freeze dried ice cream for sale at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Perhaps even something first done 40 years ago. It’s been a while since we’ve sent Americans to set foot on the moon. Maybe now is the time to repeat that, instead of more space shuttle repetitions.
Regardless of what we do, we have to do something. Just because no country has advanced its pursuits in vast universe, doesn’t mean no country will.
And we should be first. Our national security, our energy resources and other things we have yet to fathom and know may depend on it. As the astronauts who landed on the moon in 1969 and beyond noted in “In the Shadow of the Moon,” when we landed there, the whole world–even our worst enemies–were in awe and even felt a proud kinship with America.
Those were the days.
Also in “Shadow of the Moon,” astronauts who landed there noted that most of thousands of our greatest technological achievements and computerized inventions got their impetus from technological creations and advancements made expressly for the space program’s focus on a manned lunar landing.
Imagine the advancements we can have in our own lives–to make our own lives even easier. But that will only happen if America–specifically the bureaucrats who run NASA–have the guts, the courage to do something big, something that sounds nuts and unimaginable. Sadly, no such hero–no such creative visionary–has arrived.
If only the U.S. Space Program had a real, intense focus and focused on the next “small step for man,” the next “giant leap for mankind.”
Will that ever happen? When?