Thirty-five years ago today Neil Armstrong stepped on to the surface of the moon. He was the first human to walk on the ground of something other than our own planet.
It’s pretty remarkable to think that on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard was the first American to leave the Earth’s atmosphere. In 8 years, 2 months, and 15 days we went from our first manned flight in space to walking on the moon. What happened in the intervening years?
I’ll fully admit that I’m a sci-fi fan and a space enthusiast. Sure, I’m biased. Sure, I think that sending a team of scientists to Mars would be a far greater accomplishment for humanity than overthrowing the dictator of a Middle-Eastern country. But I still ask the question, what happened to those 35 years?
How come in that time we’ve gone from a computer that would fill an entire building to the one that is currently sitting on my lap and has who knows how many thousands of times more computational power than its predecessor, and yet we haven’t walked on Mars yet? How come we are only now just starting to explore the majestic rings of Saturn but it’s only with a robotic spacecraft? How come we haven’t gone to check out the oceans on Jovian moon, Europa, to see if there’s life beneath the ice?
This anniversary leaves me torn. I celebrate the accomplishments of those remarkable men and women who showed us that no dream is out of reach. And I mourn the time that was squandered after our remarkable achievement.