When I was growing up, our country went to the moon (actually, we took the rest of the world with us.) I was twelve years old when I watched Neil Armstrong first take that “one small step for (a) man”, and the last mission finished up just before my sixteenth birthday. I had no reason to believe we wouldn’t make it back there to settle by the time I was twenty-five, or that we wouldn’t have a colony on Mars before I was forty. I even fantasized (and do every so often) that I could be part of it.
Part of the problem when you let the government decide what’s worth doing is who gets to set priorities. It’s had the same effect on manned space travel as it does on innovations in medicines – risk aversion rules the day. It isn’t a free market, and private enterprise hasn’t started taking hold until recently.
But they’re here now.
Space-X has announced that they have a couple of paying customers who will be traveling to the moon in back, probably next year. They won’t be setting foot on the lunar surface, but they’ll get closer than anyone has since 1972. The identities and ticket prices haven’t been revealed yet, but I can tell you it isn’t me (drat! They didn’t ask.) It’s not that I’m holding out for the Mars colony – I’m sixty, and I don’t think I’ve developed the right skill set to be of use there for a fledgling colony, and they’ll probably want younger people with more productive years ahead of them.
China has been working on moon landings and has a colony in the works. I read somewhere that Russia says they’ll start a moon colony in 2030. You would think that would be enough to get our competitive juices flowing, but I think we still have the wrong people in charge (maybe it’s the participation trophy culture catching up with us?) We as a nation don’t seem to have any real plans for this, but maybe some free-enterprising entities are planning to do it on their own.
If we had kept moving forward like we could have after Apollo, I would have fit the age profile better, but I probably would have wound up being a tourist after the colony was established (if I could pull the price of admission together, I wouldn’t mind a 1-way cruise.)
Mars, anyone? Someone needs to start a lottery for this.
William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest publication “Immortal” can be found in many places, including:
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