The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
There are some very nice pictures in the Apollo 11 gallery.
If you were at all like me you were plastered to the screen of your TV, watching the fuzzy black and white pictures coming from the moon, looking up at it in the sky as you ran back and forth between the house and the back yard. I actually tried to take pictures of the TV screen with my little Kodak, afraid that people would forget that it happened.
I was right...we've forgotten.
I'm desperately afraid that this truly was humankind's finest moment, and that humanity's only mark in the universe will be those Apollo landers on the lunar surface, waiting for the next sentient species to come along.
My father was a quality control engineer for IBM working on the Instrument Unit (the guidance system) of the Saturn V rocket from 1966 to 1974. I watched every launch from the shoreline of the Indian River, about three miles from launch complex 39 - all except for Apollo 17 which I watched from my front yard, about five miles further away. On the night of that first lunar step, I was in my neighbor's downstairs den watching with about half the neighborhood. The neighbors were one of the few who had a color television (it didn't matter that the feed from the moon was in black and white, Walter Cronkite was in color!)
I'm not quite as pessimistic as you are. I still think the Chinese may possess the political will and economic capacity to get mankind into space for good. They surely have the brainpower.
But I'd certainly rather it was a bunch of individualistic capitalists instead.
"A Modest Proposal..."
Let's make ALL revenue derived from ANY space enterprise tax free, for the next 50 years. Doesn't matter what it is, revenue derived from com-sats, weather satellites, micro-gravity crystal growth, or even power-sats. Wanna bet some entrepreneurs find ways to make money?
But I'm guessing that the bureaucrats would find ways to shut even that down, through "safety" regulations or insurance requirements. I seem to recall that Heinlein once said something to the effect that, "The laws of physics work just as well for the Japanese or Chinese as they do for Americans", and I'm afraid you're right.
I was born in '58, and spent my childhood dreaming of becoming an astronaut (my eyesight precluded that as a reality). I'd have given a portion of my anatomy to be able to see a Saturn V liftoff from the Cape. As it was, I vividly remember all of the classes being gathered together in the elementary school hallway to watch the Mercury and Gemini missions on a B&W set at the end of the hall.
My father worked in the Avionics division of the (old) Honeywell company, and was involved in both the commercial and military electronics systems for space craft and civil/military aircraft as a reliability engineer. I wonder if my father ever met your father in the course of their work (I seem to recall that they did a lot of work with Itty-Bitty Machines). Next time I see him I'll ask if he remembers a "Baker" working for Big Blue, but he's now 84, and the Alzheimers is kicking in pretty badly.
P.S.: Thanks for all of the hard work keeping up the blog...the fisking of the idiots is always a joy to see.
Though I can't remember it, I have cause to look back fondly, being born on July 18th, 1969, in Orlando. My folks watched the rocket go up, and gave me the middle name Neil in honor of the event.
You're right, it's been too long. A lifetime, to me at least. It's high time we went back.
I'm glad we have found something else we agree on, Kevin. It has been too long and I am ashamed at the complete lack of curosity we have for the continued exploration of outer space. People seem to have forgotten their sense of wonder at what lies beyond.
I'm gonna get whacked over the head soundly for this, but... here goes. I was in a campground in Linz Austria when the first Apollo moon landing was done. The owner of the camground put up several television receivers in the picnic shelters and the like, and everyone in the campground was glued to the sets except me, and maybe one or two others.
Yes, it was an amazing feat, and it took a lot of guts to go up in a rocket and do that. But, I just could not get my mind past the phrase "bread and circuses". It was fine symbolism, but it meant virtually nothing to me at the time. I am not sure it means much more to me now.
If this makes me some sort of bad person, so be it.
No, it doesn't make you a bad person. However, there was more to it than symbolism (although even I will admit that the space-race was primarily a symbolic act.)
For one thing, the technological spin-offs from the solutions to the problems that the space program generated are still having an impact today. More applied science occurred in a shorter period than at any time outside WWII - only the science in this case wasn't applied to bigger better bangs, it was applied to keeping people alive and equipment working. If government is going to spend large sums of money, then spending it on directed research and applied science is not a bad way to do it.
But more than that, going to the moon became largely political theater because we, as a nation, lacked the will to maintain the program to its logical conclusion: colonization of the solar system.
Kevin: I could REALLY get behind some sort of a fast-track project that related, say, to energy development. THAT is something I would be watching like a hawk. It is not as sexy as putting a flag up on the moon or the like, but it would sure be meaningful on a practical level.
I think such a program could be made very bit as "sexy" as the space program.
Then again, my perspective is that of a man who works in the energy conservation field. -shrug- Call it self-interest! (grin).
How about the Bussard aneutronic fusion project?
Whatever happened to the world of the future? I was supposed to have a flying car and a house on Mars!
The period of time that we worked to put a man on the moon was one of the proudest in our nation's history. Jack said it would be done and it was. We had smarter, more capable people working in our government then we do now.
I agree completely with you, Kevin, on the colonization of space. It has to happen and it could be something that could really galvanize this population and get them moving in a more positive direction again.
Markadelphia: I think much of the greatness went away when we were all encouraged to turn inward and question America in general.
The days of swagger, of press on regardless, the "let's give THIS a try!", the "sure! We can do that!" have been left behind in favor of how awful we are, how badly we treat the rest of the world, how this and how that. How all of our manufactured goods are crap (we keep telling ourselves). Our children are now taught how bad we are and how much we pollute, how evil our founders were, etc.
We are, in short, buried in an era of angst, nannyism, and self-loathing. I put much of that right at the feet of my own generation, the boomers. We went from being a nation of John Waynes and Robert Mitchum strength and bravado to one of Alan Alda wussiness and Rosie O'Donnell nation-hating.
I disagree. I left my comment to this in the post where Kevin put it out front.