45 years ago today, humans took their first steps on another world. It might only have been our Moon, and in galactic terms, this is the equivalent of popping down the shops for a pint of milk. For humanity it should have been the first step for us to push on and out, but instead we’ve sent out robotic craft and built a space station, which is fine, but we’ve not went back to the Moon in 45 years, and probably won’t for a long time to come. As for Mars or beyond, humans won’t see those worlds with their own eyes for decades, at best.
We became insular, cynical and although the Moon race was political in origin, it did more than just getting one up over the Soviets, it showed humans where we are, and how unique we are in our wee corner of the galaxy as the Apollo missions showed us in our place.
But we pulled back. There’s still plenty who’d rather we spent no money at all on spaceflight and exploration on other worlds. They see it as a waste, and anyhow, that money could be spent better on Earth as if it’s as simple as that.
In reality space exploration is what we as a people need as we need to push on and find out new things about the origins of the universe, not to mention these discoveries add to our knowledge. Cutting off this source of knowledge would plunge us back into a new Dark Age as predicted in Orbiter, a fantastic comic written by Warren Ellis, and drawn by Colleen Doran.
I don’t want a backward future where we sit in our own filth in our own backyards with nothing to inspire us as a species, and right now we need inspiration to break the cycle of unjust slaughter, pointless death, or corrupt institutions clinging onto control. But you may still say, ‘what about the money spent?’. 20% of the US’s budget is spent on defence. $530 billion. Imagine a world where the most powerful country on the planet spent half of that on feeding the planet, curing diseases, and of course, spending more money on space exploration than the $17 billion it currently spends on NASA.
Of course money is tight, but if we didn’t treat war as a commercial opportunity, not to mention if we taxed those corporations/people currently using complex schemes to ensure their taxes aren’t spent on infrastructure or welfare programmes, but instead sit in Swiss bank accounts, then just maybe, we’d get on with it as a species rather than sit here still in our nappies throwing shite at each other.
I recommend just looking at what those men did 45 years ago and if you’re not awed by the idea that we went to the Moon, and came back then you’re dead from the scalp down. Here’s a typically awesome clip from The Space Movie with Mike Oldfield doing the soundtrack to get the blood pumping.
So think that 45 years ago the first human stood on the Moon. We need to go back and go on beyond because we need to as otherwise we’ll end up destroying ourselves with bombs and stupidity.