At 02:56 UTC on July 21, 1969
04:56 CET DST, 23:56 EST DST (still July 20 in USA)
Forty-five years ago, at the magic moment when Neil Armstrong first planted his left foot in Lunar dust, I was but a wee little lad in diapers, just one week shy of three months old. I think it’s safe to say that I took little heed of this magnificent event, as I was busy making my own discoveries on a much smaller scale, yet they seemed unbelievably grand from my point of view. I have however not escaped being repeatedly reminded that I am just barely older than our first landfall on another world. It may well be this, at least in part, which sparked my early and lifelong interest in space, in science fiction, and in actual science.
In my opinion, we need to both return to the Moon, and cultivate a space program that is both alive and growing. We then need to go forth to Mars, make scientific excursions to the asteroid belt and build exploration bases on the moons of the outer planets, in the same spirit as the historical race to reach the north and south poles of the Earth, and eventually establish settlements on planets orbiting other stars. The Earth is a small and fragile place; to ensure the survival of humanity and Earth life, against the threat of asteroid impacts, solar eruptions, nuclear war, runaway global warming or other natural disasters, it would only make sense to not carry all our eggs in just one basket.
The counter-argument is that it is bad for business, that it is too expensive, though the budgets for space exploration stand for a minuscule fraction compared to military budgets. This would be not so much an investment in business, as in our continued existence, and the bottom line for the investors is that without human existence you cannot have business! We have to think and plan much more than the usual four years ahead, but rather on the interplanetary and interstellar scales of decades, centuries and millennia. Or else, some day we’ll be one with the dinosaurs.
Posted barely five hours before the 45 year mark since a human foot touched moon-dust for the first time.