NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has renewed his vow to put astronauts on Mars by as early as 2035. The head of America’s space program says we’ll start by going back to the moon, where we can test the technology necessary to make a much longer voyage to the Red Planet.
But the whole project to put boots on another planet—something incredibly expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming—raises an interesting question: Why should we do this?
Back in the sixties, the obvious answer for why we should go to the moon was to beat the Soviets. The space race, like the nuclear arms race, carried enormous military implications.
And then there was the symbolic victory, which was won when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the Stars and Stripes on the lunar surface.
But there was a third reason for space exploration back then—which, unlike the other two reasons, still applies now.
In last year’s movie, “First Man,” Neil Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling, finds himself forced to justify the space program to the public and to public officials, not to mention his own family, as accidents accumulate and the cost in lost lives mounts. Pointing beyond practical things like military supremacy, Armstrong, in the film, argues that the ultimate reason for going to space is that it is a worthy undertaking—something human beings were made to do.
“It allows us to see things,” he says, “that maybe we should have seen a long time ago, but just haven’t been able to until now.”
Looking back on pictures from a lunar mission, especially the photo of Earth rising over the moon’s surface—it’s hard to disagree with him.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris