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To the Moon – and Beyond

Posted on Monday, November 28, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Moon
Buzz Aldrin salutes the first American flag erected on the Moon, July 21, 1969.

Americans are going back to the moon – and soon, then beyond. Some doubt our staying power, but smart money sees human permanence on Mars. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon 53 years ago, many recall Armstrong’s words – “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin’s first were “magnificent desolation.” What both saw was – the future.

Today, more than during Cold War days, we have options. We have better computers, avionics, robotics, nanotechnology, ways to jettison, personalized medicine. We could do anything and nothing, go out to the moon in person or let some R2-D2 cousin send back a digital postcard.

We have a soft culture, too – one that thinks virtual is real, digital is all we need, we can explore anything from the couch, then tweet what we felt imagining we did something we did not. The risk of softness and digital fantasy is that we lose reality, and the reward of risks taken.

Reality is undervalued. We need to up-value it again. We are not just overdue to explore the universe for survival of the species and science, but for curiosity, thrill of flight and sight, moon dust under boots, getting beyond where we are, the unknown and our theological roots.

We are overdue to understand that life is not in that mobile phone, flat screen television, or dreaming we might have done what we dared not, because it was too hard for our flabby modern “comfort zone.” What did JFK say? “We do these things…because they are hard.”

That is who Americans have always been, and humans – think Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Leaf Erickson, Ernest Shackleton, Henry Hudson, the Pilgrims, pioneers, those who make us stop and wonder – how they did what in their day seemed impossible.

We are a species that, in the words of Buzz Aldrin, must “reach outward.” Race, riches, and Earthbound differences are irrelevant – when you look at them from the moon. We lose that understanding, perspective on ourselves, if we do not go the distance, physically and psychologically, then pause to look back at where we have come from, gotten to.

Why is space tourism, another event Aldrin predicted decades ago, happening now? Because there is something transcendent about taking that risk to look back on Earth, reward in reaching up, outward, understanding that we live but once – get returns only on what we risk.

Why did Edmund Hilary attempt – and crest – Mount Everest? Why did divers go down to the Titanic? Why do we press the frontiers of science every day, in medicine, communication, transportation, defense, the unknown? Because it is destiny, in our DNA – defines us.

So, we are again headed for the moon. This time with more focus, less hoopla, but an eye on permanence, not sheer thrill but to persist over time, begin the process of island-hopping into the universe. Studies have been done on travel, survival, and permanence – now we do it.

And this is the real bit, thing people are not thinking hard enough on. America is the vanguard, culture that defended – at the front end – everything from human rights to space travel, individual liberties to equality, that pushes against “no, you cannot” with “yes, we will.”

We did that as humanity’s first nation built on ideals, not on origin; we redefined normal and still do. We twice saved Europe from self-immolation. We flew the Atlantic in a light plane.

And we went to the moon – with human daring, confidence of a sort that inspires, computers capable of one one-millionth (literally) an iPhone’s capacity. How did we do that? With conviction, unshakable conviction – that achievement was worth risk.

Do you know what, too? Partisanship, domestic politics, all the modern distractions were laid aside, meant nothing to Americans that could rival that singular effort, that overarching goal, belief in ourselves, and idea that those who dare win the day.

So here we are – heading back to the moon – only distracted, divided, tired and retired, not attracted to the risk, not recalling that ONLY those who dare to fail – will ultimately succeed. 

We seem to have forgotten that the moon is a destination and waystation, stopping off point to Mars, itself a waystation to Beyond. This is what the future looks like, what our culture and the species need to persist, the appetite for exploration, discovery, daring the Unknown.

As we prepare to see men and women heading for the moon, something deep inside us all should thrill again to this mission, what it means now, but more to “long from now.” If we can be excited about preserving Earth, we must be equally excited for what lies beyond.

As this year closes, and we begin years of resumed human space exploration, take a moment to celebrate what we forget – that inner draw to explore, what got us here, and what lies ahead.

Humans are a daring lot, curious and intrepid. Americans have been that in spades. Some will yawn at the courage, risk, and reward from such missions – to the moon and Beyond. But not the smart money, not those in touch with who we are. They know the future calls, and we are there.

May we move from that “giant leap” and “magnificent desolation” to bigger leaps, and without hesitation. It is part of our destiny, humans’ and America’s – always has been.

So, get up off the couch tonight, go outside, and look up. Leave the remote behind. Look with me to that orb from where Neil and Buzz looked back. Dream for a moment – about where risk leads, what the universe holds for the bold, and see – as they once did – The Future. Then smile. It is coming. 

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Nice repeat of a past article on the same subject. Still good reading though.

As for interplanetary manned space flight to Mars and beyond, I’m sure humanity will eventually develop the necessary advances in propulsion systems necessary to make such travel both practical, in terms of time enroute and back, as well as also safe for crews over such long distances. With Mars being 140 times farther away from the earth than the moon (approximately 33,8000,000 miles), expecting a crew to be confined in what most recent designs looks to be an enlarged Apollo flight capsule for months is realistically a non-starter. It is good PR though. Issues of severe muscle atrophy in such a confined space and potential prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation over such a long space flight, using existing technology and existing speeds attainable today, would be issues that need to be overcome. Still if people like Elon Musk put their minds towards solving all the technology issues involved, it is something mankind will eventually achieve. That is of course assuming humanity doesn’t go the WEF route and we descend into the second coming of the dark ages. Coin toss on that one at this point.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Media models for Space:
1981 Outland
Earth 2 TV movie 1971
2001
Alien, Aliens
near term

Space X rockets= those from 50s

Chuck
Chuck
1 year ago

Such elated nonsense. We need to be putting such described finance and effort into solving earthly problems like efficient atomic energy development and enabling farming by lifting stupid methane, fertilizer, and fossil fuel restrictions. And dropping this stupid and false global warming thesis. You will make mankinds life on earth much better than by shooting a rocket up in the air.

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

I like the idea of space travel but that’s probably cuz I’ve always been a space nerd and a syfy fan! But if the technology developed thru this endeavor leads to ways of helping our own planet then good for us!!! We have pumped too much money into silly things like government investigations that are known to be just political stunts to help keep a certain party in power (oh my did I say the left?)! We could take that money and help move our technology forward which is what more space stuff I think will do!

Morbious
Morbious
1 year ago

Sounds cool… till you discuss details. So the moon a way station to mars? Just because a marketing genius thinks living on mars makes sense doesnt make it feasible. I know what happens after mere weeks of immobility. Muscles shrink to wisps. Rebuilding takes months. Every single thing needed there must be flown from here using jet propulsion and risky landings. What the hell will people do there but sit around, anyway. Look for gold? Diamonds? What if martian water is not accessible.? We accomplished what was realistic fifty years ago. Until tech advances bring us star trek speeds this is all bb brained fantasy. Well, wheres the harm in that? Its yet another distraction to feed the middle class as their substance is eaten out.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

We would have been living on the moon in the ‘70’s and on Mars in the ‘80’s if the FASCIST liberals hadn’t KILLED our Space Program.
Here we are 50 years later and the FASCIST liberals still KILLING our Space Program.
Why? So they can put us in WARS and GIVE ALL of our Taxes to their ILLEGAL ALIEN TERRORIST INVASION.
Nothing has changed in 50 years except MORE ILLEGAL ALIENS AND MORE WARS.
All compliments of FASCIST liberals.
So much for retiring on Mars.

T smith
T smith
1 year ago

We could have done it long ago, but certain people insisted that we waste trillions of dollars for social programs that made things worse instead of better.

John D. Beach
John D. Beach
1 year ago

It is unjust and abusive to waste money on “space exploration” while American citizens, by the hundreds of thousands are homeless, drug-addicted, millions are victimized by debt, and at the mercy of a government that can not stop throwing money away on corrupt, lost causes. Kennedy, as all Americans, at the time, sensed the threat of Soviet domination and the potential for the weaponization of space, something that we could not live with. Those days are over. We need to have a purposeful refocussing of efforts and resources to improve the quality of life for Americans who have been marginalized by wasteful, government policies, particularly, those of the Democrat-controlled, inner-cities which are crime-ridden and a blight on the country.

Janet
Janet
1 year ago

Those who know this saying are looking up and to the future, “There will be wonders in the ski above and in the earth beneath.” And, “When you see these happening know……..!”

Rich
Rich
1 year ago

Unfortunately “yes we will” is not in the present administrations vocabulary unless you’re talking about a radical agenda. Why do we want to occupy and screw up another planet? Some want to find the answer to “where have we come from” and cannot figure out what gender they presently are. Exploring other planets is only an exercise for those who have many questions they can’t seem to answer and would never be economically feasible to export minerals or other products to the earth. Have we made many advances from space exploration, sure, but at what cost? Having said all that, there are many politicians that I would like to send into outer space, but then we would be sure to screw up another planet.

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