This week marks to 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Mission. On July 21, 1969 the spacecraft containing Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong made its successful voyage to the natural satellite orbiting our planet. Armstrong became the first human to walk on the lunar surface, Aldrin following shortly after. Six more Apollo missions followed, five of them landing on the moon (Apollo 13 famously aborted their surface mission because they “…[had] a problem.” No, it wasn’t the door). In 1972, Apollo 17 became the final lunar mission. We haven’t been back since.
Since the dawn of humanity, we have looked to the stars and asked the question, “What is out there?” We spent eons guessing. Do gods control the sky? Are there other places like this one? Are we alone? The telescope confirmed the heavens were more than distant fireflies. Innovation and courage gave us the power of flight. Our need to explore motivated us to leave the comfort of out atmosphere.
So where are we now? We haven’t been to the moon in over 40 years. It seems logical that our next destination would be our neighboring planet, Mars. We’ve sent robots to look around, but no people. There certainly isn’t a deficiency in communication technology. The computers used for the moon missions were no more sophisticated than a simple addition/subtraction calculator. The spacecraft required to safely transport people to and from Mars hasn’t been built. It’s been dreamed of and drawn out, but it hasn’t been built. A vessel of that nature would likely command a small fortune. Our government seems willing to spend trillions of dollars on a defective jet fighter that nobody asked for, but not on a spaceship to Mars.
I believe there is hope. There will always be an interest in space, science, and the question of “What is out there?” Engineers have drafted designs for a ship that can break the light barrier. Science fiction writers and filmmakers continue to give us space fantasies to fuel our collective imagination. The early astronauts of NASA helped kick off the space-age. It didn’t end with Apollo 17.
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Included with this article is my 2008 film ALONE. It’s a three minute short about a fictional moon base in the future, shot in the style of the Twilight Zone and the B-Movies of the mid twentieth century. Enjoy.