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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Forty Years from the Moon, and Still Counting

Forty years since we humans walked on the Moon - on July 20, 1969.

I was thrilled at the time, and still am, but I already could tell then that it would be a long time before our species got much farther. Lots of people, even back then, didn't seem to care all that much about this extraordinary accomplishment - the most extraordinary, in many ways, in our history.

Some said, back then, that it was the Vietnam War - that it soured many people on anything connected with the military. But it was more than that. I think there are some people, many people, who just didn't and still don't see the big deal about getting off this planet and out into space.

For me, it's always seemed crystal and pressingly clear. And the reason is not just scientific, or economic, though they play a part.

But the main reason is simply this: we'll never know truly who we are from our vantage point down on this planet. We live on a planet that is part of an immensely larger universe. And until see some more of that, first hand, we'll be lacking a crucial piece of our self-awareness and discovery. To borrow from Socrates, we'll never be able to truly know ourselves from just on this planet.

And once, against all odds, we did make it off this planet, and more than once. But we followed up with missions, which though heroic and valuable, have not really pushed the human envelope beyond the Moon.

Where will we be 40 years from now?

I hope further than where we were 40 years ago, and where we still are today.

5-min podcast about the Moon
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