When Stars Collide
By Tim Donner – Washington Political Columnist
As a lifelong, and long-suffering, fan of the famously hapless New York Mets during the 1960s, the moon landing will always be inexorably intertwined with an event perhaps equally as miraculous which would, three months later, shock the world every bit as much. At least JFK and his successors told us to expect the moon landing – but the Mets winning the World Series? Now that was Inconceivable.
But in the midst of the great excitement of 50 years ago was a story, now legend, linking America’s national pastime and our historic achievement in space. Was it sheer coincidence, or destiny? You decide. Gaylord Perry was a Hall of Fame pitcher, but a dreadful batter. Asked in 1964 whether Perry would ever hit a homer, Giants manager Alvin Dark replied, “Mark my words, a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” You can surmise how the story ends. The veteran pitcher connects for his first round-tripper on – you guessed it – July 20, 1969.
Moon Landing Changed Everything
By Gene Phillip – Guest Author
On July 20, 1969, man took a step that was two million years in the making. We actually left the planet where life began and walked on a distant celestial body that had never been exposed to even a most basic single cell of living matter. But instead of this achievement becoming a turning point or a new beginning or era in human evolution or life in general, it became the start of a death spiral for human extinction.
Instead of continuing on a journey of space exploration and even habitation, this unprecedented feat was met with human behavior as primitive as any previous epoch. Assassinations, race riots, anti-war protests, gender-based upheavals, self-esteem derangement, and biological family dismemberment became the norm and is accelerating today, much as dark energy is pushing the universe apart. Even our leaders disparage the civic and social fabric that once held us together.
Some optimists see the planet Mars as an element of hope that human extinction is not inevitable. But I wouldn’t wager any bitcoins.
The Efforts of a Species
By Mark Angelides – Managing Editor
When Russia and the US began their race to see who could be first to place a man on the moon, it was very much a status battle in a war of triumphs and achievements. Just 50 years later, perhaps as a sign of growing connectedness, the journey to the stars has become an international concern.
Yes, there are still strategic and economic reasons for being pioneers in the field of space exploration, but the true motivation has shifted. The purpose of space travel, and by extension, colonization, is no longer just the hopes of an individual country, but the potential future of the whole human race. Our place in the universe as a species is headed toward the stars. It’s worth remembering, today of all days, that this new branch of human history began only half a century ago.
A Whole New Space Race
By James Fite – Editor-at-Large
When the space race culminated in the first lunar landing of 1969, the major contenders were the US and the USSR. But now it seems the race is back on. Who will go to the moon first this time: The United States, China – or a corporation? Considering the fact that the Apollo program cost taxpayers an estimated $25.4 billion – a whopping $179.76 billion when adjusted for inflation to the 2019 equivalent – a private-sector winner seems ideal.
Earlier this year, China’s Chang’e 4 made a soft landing on the far side of the moon. Now the space race is on once again, and this time, there are companies competing against the national players. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are doing what the private sector does best: Whatever it is the government is doing – just a whole lot more efficiently and on less money. Riding on their coattails are several other smaller companies. We’ve already seen the first of space tourism.
What’s next? A colony on the moon? Asteroid mining? Commercial space flights booked on sites like Expedia and Travelocity? We’ll likely find out soon enough – and if the government can take a back seat and let the private corporations do the leg work, we regular folk might actually be able to afford it someday.