This month sees the 50th anniversary of The Moon landings, in 1969. When I woke up today, I was thinking about that, and the sheer scale of Space, as we understand it. And that’s the second time this year I have done that, and been prompted to write about it here.
I was seventeen years old at the time, and watched it on television, along with everyone else on Earth who had access to a TV set. To be honest, I was unimpressed. I didn’t think it looked much like The Moon as I imagined it, and the limited walkabouts gave me no impression of size, or any vast landscape to admire the strangeness of.
Maybe that sounds churlish, to not be impressed by what so many believe to be mankind’s greatest achievement? Sorry if it does, but I wasn’t, and I am still indifferent to it. Even as a teenager, I just could’t see the point of it. All that time, and a huge amount of money, just spent to land some men on an uninhabitable rock. Science and exploration were the reasons given at the time. We would learn so much, discover wonders, and change the future for the better.
I didn’t buy that. It was just about who got there first, and which flag was raised before any other.
It wasn’t too long before I happily joined in with the conspiracy theorists. Did they actually go? Was it all possibly filmed on a secret film set, tucked away in some remote part of America? The footage sent back was ‘limited’ at best. It could certainly have been a set, there was no doubt about that. But although I still have some nagging doubts, I was captivated by later views of The Earth from space, and on balance, I believe they did go.
But I still believe it was ultimately pointless, and that so much more could have been done with the vast amounts of money spent on what was ultimately a ‘vanity project’.
Like most people, I am rather fascinated by the size of the Universe. The stars are amazing, and the incomprehensible distances involved are impossible to imagine. Fifty years later, and we have satellite technology, space junk floating around, and talk of a new mission, Artemis, in 2024. This time, they want to put a woman on The Moon. I am all for equal opportunities, but I think that a country with a health care crisis, unresolved environmental issues, and a propensity to invade any other country they don’t like could find a better use for the (at least) $30 BILLION it will cost.
But it will be a woman on The Moon. And an American woman, of course.
I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that fifty years later, they have learned nothing.