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It was 40 Years Ago Today -- The Day We Chose to Go to the Moon

07/16/2009 05:13PM

It was 40 Years Ago Today -- The Day We Chose to Go to the Moon

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win..." President John F. Kennedy, Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort. September 12, 1962


  • lescher2 [Les Chambers]
  • 07/19/2009 09:45AM
I remember 1969 for my 3rd grade teacher and my parent's excitement when they woke me up to watch the moon walk. As A&A planted the flag, I distinctly recall my mother saying as "Watch Russia go up there and tear it down." I was 9 yrs old and had no idea who/what Russia was and why they would tear down the flag. Yet, as the years passed I realized that the supposed rivalry was absolutely critical for Apollo to have gotten to the moon. Now the U.S.S.R. is gone and Russia is no more a threat to the U.S. than it's predecessor was in 1969. However, without the competition or threat of a Fort Lenin on the moon, the U.S. has lost the national will to do anything as grand as a moonrace. It is no accident that the emerging players in space activities are China and India, 2 countries who have been locked in competition since their war in 1960. When another flag is planted on the Moon or, more to the point, Mars, that flag will not be the Stars and Stripes. The saddest thing is that so much could have been accomplished the last 40 yrs. We could have, should have, been on Mars 20 yrs ago. <br><br>Les

  • newtgem [Ronald Abraham]
  • 07/19/2009 11:27AM
Those things that drove space exploration were related to the cold war. The technology benefit was - at best - an excuse to proceed; the moon was the ultimate goal. With that behind us, there was little motivation to go beyond. We must also remember that during this period we started working with the Soviets to slowly but surely tear down barriers - beginning with the joint Appollo/Soyuz mission.<br><br>Skylab, communications satellites, and weather satellites took us from a competition based program to a productivity based space program. Then the Shuttle program and the European/Japanese entry into space technology led us to a full integration of that technology with daily life.<br><br>Remeber that astronomy technology remained at a virtual standstill during this time with it's shining new beginning on the immediate horizon. The Soviet Union imploded, and the cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on scientific frontiers began openning dramatically.<br><br>When Iridium and GPS took flight and new generations of satellites replaced outdated ones, it became clear that earth was fully dependent on technology in orbit for almost eveything in our daily lives. <br><br>Since the Hubble Telescope, the tide of new goals has shifted toward astronomy. A visit to Mars can in no way rival the JWST and the worlds fleet of space telescopes. The secrets revealed by the full spectrum of data collection provided the basis for understanding annd exploring unification. <br><br>Then Mars sounds good.
  • newtgem [Ronald Abraham]
  • 07/19/2009 11:51AM
I though I should also mention that the "will of the people" is really better described as "social justification". When all socieites survival under threat sudden annihilation, the arms race and space race were virtually synonomous. The moon landing was the victory that convinced the world that the U.S.S.R. "lost".<br><br>In fact the moon was the strategic turning point global capitalism over communism. With the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the burst of orbital technology, we faced a triad of choice: Manned planetary ambitions, manned and instrumented orbitalambitions, and deep space data collection ambitions.<br><br>There were two winners - and believe that truly reprersents humanity's collective will - and ultimately - survival.