Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo 11

One of my favorite TV shows as a kid was “Star Trek”. It was about hope and possibility and a future in space during a time that seemed difficult and dangerous while we were beginning the space program to meet Kennedy’s goal of getting to the moon before the end of the decade.

I was born the first full day of the space age. My first memorable introduction to the space program was being told about John Glenn orbiting the earth back in February 1962. I was only four years old but I still recall the feeling of wonder I had. I may even have seen something about it on TV to feed that wonder.

America’s early space program has been detailed in many documentaries, HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon” and Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”. Right now we have a shuttle in space and a permanently-staffed (I avoided using the word “manned”) space station. In fact, yesterday they were having toilet problems. My how our technological prowess has declined—they never had that problem in the LEM. We also have a space telescope, plans to go back to the moon and on to Mars, perhaps we or China landing a human there sometime in the next fifty years.

As I wrote in this space for father’s day, my father woke me and my sisters up in a motel room in Tennessee to see the moon walk live. I still remember that. What moves me most about that event is video of people around the world watching at the same time. We were truly one world during that moment, fascinated by the achievement. Perhaps through space exploration, we will be afforded an opportunity to become one world again.

This is a photo of a sunset on Mars, which fascinates me tremendously. I am also fascinated by the Times Square Cam that enables me to see Times Square live. So to have at least one photo of a precious in moment like a sunset—but on Mars!—thrills me.

I may sound nuts, but I believe there will come a time, perhaps in a hundred years, when humans will begin colonizing Mars and begin exploring Venus with the possibility of living there some time later. I believe humans will one day occupy three planets in this solar system.

Perhaps the technology this and subsequent generations will have to develop to reverse or control global climate change will be the foundation of the theoretical technology called
terraforming which will be needed to make Mars and Venus habitable to humans. The technology required to transform Venus is obviously outside our present realm of knowledge, but technology to get to the moon was obviously outside our realm a hundred years ago or so when people first began fantasizing and speculating about it.

Perhaps in two centuries, or less, we will have developed the technology to travel to other solar systems.

“Star Trek” had been cancelled by the time of the moon landing, but the space program continued. Many scientists in the space program and in consumer product technology were also fans of “Star Trek” as kids. They shaped the computer/cell phone world we live in.

With the various incarnations within the “Star Trek” franchise and the possibility Paramount will keep churning them out for fifty more years or so, future kids will be able to enjoy them and perhaps the vision of an inter-galactic human reality, inspired by “Star Trek”, will become reality because of it.

There is hope for humanity. We simply have to rise to the challenge of global climate change. If there is anything the space program has taught us, it is that we can rise to challenges like we did with Kennedy’s and achieve great things for all humanity.

Unlucky for us, we now have some very serious challenges to rise to.

Tomorrow: Debunking the Biggest Moon Landing Hoax Theory Hoaxes