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28 July 2010 @ 12:10 am
Belated Thoughts on Apollo  
Last week was the 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, widely viewed as the "defining moment" of my generation.

Really, though, the defining moment of my generation was not when Humanity reached out to stride upon the Moon.

It was when we turned away.

I feel: disappointeddisappointed
Arcaton: jackassr_caton on July 28th, 2010 08:37 am (UTC)
Damn straight.

The devolution of man. when we were satisfied with what we could scavenge.
Den: buggerdewhitton on July 28th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC)
Bloody oath.

We are watching our hopes for the future and science fiction stories slip away to become alternative histories.
leonard_arlotte: GRRRR!leonard_arlotte on July 28th, 2010 12:09 pm (UTC)
Tombfyretombfyre on July 28th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, its sad that all this wonderful stuff happened 4 decades ago, and we've all been in a holding pattern ever since. :p
KehzaFox: Displeasedkfops on July 28th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
It often saddens me to think of the amazing evolution of flight that my Grandma witnessed (having been born in 1912), and how quickly man seemed to go from planes to actually landing on the moon.

In my years the most exciting shift was probably the shuttle program, but even that plan was something like 20 years old by the time it actually rolled onto the launch pad for the first time.

The planets seem as distant as ever, though we've gotten better at peeping at them from afar.
Kymrikymri on July 28th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
I hate to say it, but while the endless optimism and pioneering spirit helped us get to the moon (not because, as a great man said, it was easy, but because it was hard) -- it was fear and aggression that were quietly writing the checks.

Without the cold war and the drive for ICBMs and the military benefits provided by the research NASA was carrying out, we'd never have had the funding to do so.

It's evident even now; there's perhaps even more awareness of the scientific value of this sort of activity, but look at NASA's budget for manned spaceflight development, and then look at what we're spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It pains me that soon we'll be unable to get our own astronauts to the ISS and will basically be bumming rides from the Russians whilst paying vastly non-trivial amounts of 'gas money' for the privilege. When I was a child in the 80s I remember the icicle in my heart when STS-51-L failed in such a traumatically spectacular fashion.

I was the kid who read obsessively through this and then later, The Mars One Crew Manual. I regret, now, that I'll never witness a Shuttle launch in person, and that it's unlikely we'll see an American manned mission to Luna or to Mars in my lifetime; perhaps the Chinese or the Indians will get there and keep exploration moving forward and outward.

Some part of me wants the simple reassurance that we'll get to a point where if the worst happens and Earth itself becomes uninhabitable, maybe there'll still be humanity out there somewhere.
Araquan Skytracer: Crescent moonaraquan on July 28th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Indeed. I still think we (and by we I mean humanity, not necessarily any particular nation) should have had a permanent presence there by the time I was ten at the outside, and should have been building the ship to go to Mars (if not visited already) by the time I was 20.

Meanwhile, today it seems we can't even muster the will to see the Ares series of launch vehicles through.

Pakapaka on July 29th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
What worries me here is that there's some unpleasant comparisons earlier. Ming China carried out great voyages of exploration and then the money ran out, and their government decided they wanted to be xenophobic as a defense mechanism. So no Chinese Africa; no China that was able to resist being overrun by the European powers and by Japan. Islamic civilization was the thing, back in the day; but all they needed was the threat posed by the Timurids, and a movement towards fundamentalism within, and from the most enlightened countries in the world, the Arab and Persian world weakened, was completely co-opted by the Turks, and remains lagging to this day. Portugal and the Netherlands, for all their advances in seafaring, became relegated to second-class countries while the big guys, France and England, grabbed all the glory and dominated the new world.

And now we have the option of the US retaining vital leadership, or at least contributing to the success of the ESA, Russian, and Japanese spacefaring efforts, and we're too busy funding wars, and collapsing inwards. We could have made the future. Instead we've about handed it over to China. I would far, far rather the future be dominated by Russians and Indians than by the PRC.
one in a billionsiege on July 29th, 2010 08:30 am (UTC)
I'm 34. Apollo doesn't define space for me; Challenger does, and particularly the will to step up and do it again.

Sadly, you're right. It was the turning away that has taken the stars from us.