What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 20, 1969. One Giant Leap.

Forty-years ago today, mankind landed a craft and stepped out onto a world that wasn't Earth*. While the space program to the politicians was another raising of the bar in the Cold War against the Soviet Union, to the rest of humanity it was a watershed moment. It was the frontier, and we had bridged it. Men had travelled beyond the Earth. We had not fully escaped the gravity well of our home planet (after all the Moon, while escaping, is still bound by the Earth's gravity), but it was enough to show we could. We have walked on another planet. We had crossed the technological Rubicon.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth.
High Flight - John Gillespie Magee, Jr

And now, because the Chinese have declared their intention to go to the Moon, we have a new program on the books. Robotics are fine, but when you look at the moon, you can point and say, "We were there." When you see the ISS streaking across the twilight sky, I know my heart beats faster knowing, "We are there." With robots there just isn't the same connectedness.

So, we're going back. Once again mankind will walk on the Moon.

Gods speed, Altair.

* Well, the current theory that the Moon, Luna, was part of the Earth and was ejected from the planet by a massive collision while the Earth was still forming.

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