Headlines > News > Just another Apollo? Part one

Just another Apollo? Part one

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:56 am
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The United States is heading to the Moon.

One hundred years ago such a statement would have been found only in fantasy stories. Fifty years ago, only a select few rocket scientists would have considered it achievable within the century; to the public, such a notion was too fantastic to consider. Forty years ago, this sentence finally rang true, and people believed that the Moon was within their grasp, as thousands of engineers and scientists worked together to produce the greatest technical achievement in human history: the Apollo program. On Monday, September 19, NASA revealed the results of the long-awaited ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study). The purpose of this study was to outline exactly how NASA intended to send astronauts to the Moon in accordance with the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). It was the first time since 1989 that NASA has made the statement, “The United States is heading to the Moon.”

And what was the reaction this time?

The Washington Post called it “odd”. The Examiner, another DC paper, compared those who want to send men to the moon and Mars to the obsessed Captain Ahab of Moby Dick and said that “There is no reason to believe that now is that time [to send astronauts to the Moon] or that NASA has proven itself completely up to the task.” The Palm Beach Post wrote against the plan, citing “massive hurricane damage, surging budget deficits and a war to fight in Iraq” and criticized the plan as being nothing more than “a more muscular Apollo.” The Los Angeles Times facetiously pointed out that the Moon is not receding from Earth very quickly and that it will “still be around” if we don’t carry the VSE through to fruition. Many other newspapers had similar reactions (see “The reaction to the exploration plan”, The Space Review, October 3, 2005). It is sad that the sense of vision and the drive and yearning to reach for those goals which are just beyond are grasp have been lost since the heady days of the 1960s.

Consider the magnitude of the achievement NASA is contemplating: sending astronauts to the Moon! The reactions of people in 1950 or 1960 to that truly awesome statement were far more understandable and more in line with the enormity of the task than the repetitive and negative reactions seen the in the media today to the same dream of sending men to the Moon. Yes, it has been done before, but that does not make the feat of going to the Moon any less spectacular.

Read more at The Space Review.

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