That’s where our future lies.
Way the hell out there… beyond the moon… and beyond even Mars.
If you haven’t been paying attention to all the noise being stirred up by the global scientific community – specifically cosmologists and those fields relating to astronomy – and watching all the pleading videos on YouTube from the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, we Earthlings on this blue marble that circles the sun every 365 days are driving our species into the ground because we can’t be bothered to spend tax dollars on endeavors that will eventually lead us away from our home planet.
Every year, this situation gets more dire – especially in these lean years where governments have had to drastically slash their budgets.
You’ve heard of NASA, right?
Yeah, yeah… they were in that movie about the asteroid – they supposedly had a bunch of people just sitting around dreaming shit up!
Well… in reality, I’m sure there are a bunch of people at NASA whose job is to “dream shit up”, but the American agency’s main job has been – since the late 1950s – to further humanity’s understanding of the cosmos by sending humans and robotic probes out into the big black yonder.
In the beginning, there were the Mercury and Gemini rocket programs that put Americans into space after playing laggards to the Commie bastards in the USSR.
And then there was the Apollo program… the one NASA program that has accomplished a feat so complex and daring that nobody has been able to duplicate in 40+ years since: putting a living human being onto the surface of the moon.
Before any of you conspiracy wingnuts try and set the comment section ablaze down below with your lunacy (see what I did there?), be of the understanding that all comments have to approved by me – and not one word of how you think the lunar landings were faked will ever see the light of day on this blog.
Why am I so certain that NASA put Neil Armstrong and the astronauts that followed him onto the moon’s vast plains of regolith?
For one single reason: the Red Soviets never said that the Americans were fibbing.
Why would the Kremlin stand by and let the U.S. of A. boast about landing on the moon if it actually hadn’t happened? Especially when that kind of press made the Soviet space program – which was National Priority #1 during the 1960s – look like a total and utter failure?
It would have been in Moscow’s best interest to dispute the American’s claims if they had definitive proof that NASA was actually filming the moon footage on a soundstage somewhere – but the only thing that came down the wire from the Soviets was a begrudging congratulation.
What made them privy to the actuality of the Apollo capsules heading to the moon? (And no… they weren’t paid off as some nuts insist).
The Russians had deep space tracking facilities just as powerful as the Americans… radar facilities that could track anything in Earth orbit or beyond – all the way to the moon and past it
So, as the Apollo missions unfolded, the Soviets watched with detached fascination on their radar tracking scopes – probably cursing aloud and hoping that each trip to the moon would go horribly wrong so that they could (politely and in political terms) laugh at the American’s bungling of something that they could then claim was easy and that they were going to successfully carry out via their superior scientific apparatus.
But, like I wrote up above, that didn’t happen – and the Commies were forced to eat crow, quickly killing their own moon landing program before it had even gotten off the ground.
So, yeah… humans have walked on the moon… drove around on the moon… played golf on the moon… and looked at porn while on the moon.
If you need more proof, check out the Mythbusters episode regarding the so-called Moon Hoax: Adam and Jamie thoroughly debunked all the most popular “theories”.
Okay… I’m gonna get this blog entry back on track.
Like I was saying before I went off on the wingnuts, space exploration – and human space exploration specifically – has gone off the rails almost globally due to the lack of political will to spend big money on things Joe Public had begun to take for granted.
The average person out there – who hasn’t studied the various doings of NASA, the ESA, JAXA, and other space agencies around the world in any depth beyond the 20 second blurbs on the nightly news when a space shuttle launched – kinda assumes that human space flight is routine, fairly easy, and is already half-way to Mars.
Sorry, space cadets: humans have been stuck in low Earth orbit for the past fortyish years since the Apollo program concluded – the farthest we’ve gone off the face of the planet is to service the Hubble Space Telescope… 570 kilometers straight up, or 350 miles for our Imperial measurement friends.
The moon is 385,000 kilometers away.
In the waning years of his presidency, George W. Bush tried to build himself a legacy by commanding NASA to start planning for humankind’s return to the moon before foraging outwards to Mars – something that the American people could surely get behind in the way that they embraced John F. Kennedy’s vision of man going to the moon for the first time.
However, elections came to America.
At first glance, Barrack Obama was good for NASA since he was science-friendly… and maybe Bush’s Orion/Constellation program would have maintained forward momentum if a class of representatives hadn’t been elected to Congress that were more interested in nickel and diming important federal prorgams in order to service that 1% the Occupy movement loves to hate.
Unfortunately, NASA’s budget kept getting scaled back in the years that followed Dubya’s departure (and even while he was still Commander In Chief)… cut down so much that Obama was forced to take a scalpel to the American space program – paring away costly items that Congress just refused to pay for.
The costliest of these items being human space flight beyond Earth orbit – whether that be to the moon or to Mars.
On paper, not all is lost: Obama has endorsed sending humans to an asteroid or a Martian moon by the year 2030… by which time the Chinese Commies will have set up a permanent base on our own moon.
You see, only the Chinese are taking human space flight seriously in the here and now – aggressively pursuing space flight at a rate of speed that would almost put the 60s space race to shame.
Of course, the Chinese have more money than they know what to do with – we buy nearly all of our consumer goods from them, after all.
I suppose it also has to do with the fact that they don’t spend a dime on basic human needs – but I digress.
So, on top of building entire metropolitan cities from scratch for people who won’t move to them, Beijing has spent billions of yuan on building rockets, space capsules, and other space-related infrastructure that will put them on the moon within the next decade.
You might be saying “So what? What does that have to do with me?”
I’ll tell you what: humankind needs a new home… and that home will be out there – first amongst the planets in our own solar system, and then out among the stars you gaze at every night.
This isn’t some panicky prediction based on environmental concerns (though our rapid depletion of natural resources here on Earth is certainly making a good case for it) but simply based on the fact that Earth will eventually run out of space for our massive populations.
If we – as a species – want to continue growing our masses without check, then we are going to need new places to put our children/grandchildren/great grandchildren/etc. so that they can thrive in environments capable of supporting them.
…And we can’t allow the Communist Chinese to control that stellar high ground – not when the individual human lives under their control mean so little.
The last thing we need is abysmal-pay sweatshops on the moon.
We need to band together as a species on united human space exploration front so that all of the ground that humankind can travel to will be open and fair to all.
I know that may sound like a rehashed speech from a Star Trek episode, but it’s true: when humankind’s destiny is clearly out into the cosmos, we all need to get behind that destiny to make it happen.
We need to speak up and force the people we elect to office to spend tax dollars that will help us into the future… instead of spending money on the same old crap that we’ve done for a 100 years or more: big business and a military to pursue the interests of big business.
Big business is only interested in pacifying the masses with goods and services… and the military’s only interest is in how to kill the masses.
Those two things do nothing to preserve our species – a species that has barely existed for a million years… which is inconsequential when taken in context with the actual age of Planet Earth.
We will certainly be our own undoing if we don’t get ourselves off this planet – not all of us, of course… but a number that will ensure our survival in case something untoward should happen to our homeworld (cataclysm, environmental collapse, alien invasion, etc.).
The only way we will do this is by spending money on human space flight… no matter how small in scale it may seem at first.
The 313,286,000 people who live in the United States Of America (minus the native population) didn’t all arrive on the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria with Christopher Columbus – they got here by being the children of those who immigrated to North America in the years after Columbus “discovered” the New World – an expedition of discovery that was paid for with money from Spain’s tax coffers.
Exploration on a grand scale is done by nations (and currently with the help of private companies).
Those nations now need to spend the money necessary to send our species way out there.
It’s our only real chance to make sure our species… well… lives long and prospers.