Abandoned Moon

Charles Krauthammer on the 40th anniversary of our high water mark in space:

America’s manned space program is in shambles. Fourteen months from today, for the first time since 1962, the United States will be incapable not just of sending a man to the moon but of sending anyone into Earth orbit. We’ll be totally grounded. We’ll have to beg a ride from the Russians or perhaps even the Chinese.

So what, you say? Don’t we have problems here on Earth? Oh, please. Poverty and disease and social ills will always be with us. If we’d waited for them to be rectified before venturing out, we’d still be living in caves.

Yes, we have a financial crisis. No one’s asking for a crash Manhattan Project. All we need is sufficient funding from the hundreds of billions being showered from Washington — “stimulus” monies that, unlike Eisenhower’s interstate highway system or Kennedy’s Apollo program, will leave behind not a trace on our country or our consciousness — to build Constellation and get us back to Earth orbit and the moon a half-century after the original landing.

Why do it? It’s not for practicality. We didn’t go to the moon to spin off cooling suits and freeze-dried fruit. Any technological return is a bonus, not a reason. We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities. We choose to do such things, said JFK, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And when you do such magnificently hard things — send sailing a Ferdinand Magellan or a Neil Armstrong — you open new human possibility in ways utterly unpredictable.

Please read the whole thing. It is a sad, sad thing that we have retreated so far and given up so much. Only 12 humans have walked on the moon. All were Americans. Now, in a few months, we will mo longer be space capable at all. We will be stuck here, unable to even reach the International Space Station unless we hitchhike.

How ridiculous is that?

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8 Responses to Abandoned Moon

  1. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    Just part of the Democrat Party’s war against science and technology.

  2. martian says:

    It is the great shame of our nation that we, who once led in the quest for far horizons and the future of the human race, are now mendicants on the outskirts of human achievement begging for crumbs.

  3. Bleepless says:

    Between anti-Americanism and pettiness, there is no room for any grandeur.

  4. oLD gUY says:

    But what would we do there? The same useless stuff we do on the ISS? That soaked billions of dollars, money that could have funded the Terrestrial Planet Finder or a Jovian moon lander. What stunning, amazing things has the ISS accomplished? How would sending men to the moon be different? Wait until there is a reason to justify the cost. Until then, send robots. Cheaper and more productive.

  5. Gaius says:

    I’m quite sure there were more than a few people who said much the same thing to Columbus.

  6. A lunar base would be a much more stable and usefull platform for launching the next steps in spaceexploration, including, eventually, a manned mission to Mars.

    I believe, and it’s only a belief, that not only i mankind destined for the stars, but that the future survival of the human race is dependent on our ability to some day colonize beyon our own planet. Environmentalists talk about caring for Earth, but all it would take is one big asteroid and “gang aft aglay”… but the further spread out we are, the less likely our extinction.

  7. martian says:

    old guy, the ISS accomplished one of the most important steps in space travel – a permanent manned presence in space. The ‘useless stuff’ they do on the space station gives us valuable knowledge of how the human body adapts to space, how food crops will react and many other things that we NEED to know BEFORE we can proceed into the rest of the solar system or the galaxy for that matter. A permanent base on the moon, besides giving us the opportunity to tap the resources of an entirely virgin planetary body, again gets us that much closer to further interplanetary exploration. It’s people like you, who lack the imagination to picture or the drive to understand just what IS being accomplished that have put us in the miserable position we are in now. Robots are fine for some things but robots can NEVER inspire the human spirit the way a manned presence in space does. Yes, it’s dangerous. So was crossing the Atlantic in 1000 & 1492 CE. So was crossing the Appalachians and the great plains and the Rockies. So was building submarines to explore the depths of the ocean. Huge amounts of money were spent in all of these endeavors. People were injured and killed in all of them. Did it stop us? Did it even slow us down? The nature of man is to push the envelope, to travel over the next horizon, to learn, to explore. When we stop doing that we will stagnate and die.

  8. Bleepless says:

    Bravo, martian and Gaius.

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