Today marks the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon--the greatest single achievement in the history of mankind. Although I tend to agree with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that the greatest achievement was bringing them back again.
I turn 37 this month--so I was not around for the moon landing. And I fear that my generation will never be able to match that accomplishment. Sure the internet is nice--and has done more for our lives than a couple of guys walking on the moon ever did--but the sheer audacity of going to another world that has absolutely no way to support life captures the exploring spirit of humans even more than Columbus heading west to find India or Amundson making it to the South Pole.
I wonder if we could even pull off something like the first moon landing today? The sheer cost alone would make most lawmakers choke. We need to pay for health care now you know. And every aspect of the project would undergo an environmental study--important to know if the rocket noise will adversely affect nesting habits of shorebirds in the area. And the entire project will have to be "carbon neutral"--don't want to heat up the environment trying to get out of it. Better make sure that Tang is vegan friendly as well.
And forget about sending three white guys to the moon. The Lunar Modual of today would have to hold about ten people so we can make sure to have a woman, an African-American, a Wise Latina, a gay or lesbian astronaut, a senior citizen to make sure we "properly represent" America. We'd better have plenty of exits as well--since everyone will have to step off the LEM at the same time--so no one can claim to be the "first". Wouldn't want anyone to feel bad being the "second" or the "third".
And don't even think about planting a US flag on the moon now. We don't want anyone else in the world to think that the United States is better than where they live. We don't even have health care coverage for everyone! Better to put a United Nations flag up there--or better still, one of those "O's" with the red, white and blue stripes inside of it and our new national motto "Hope and Change".
Today's first moon landing wouldn't include Neil Armstrong's inspirational first words "That's one small step for (a) man....." Today we would have an on-line poll to choose the first words on the moon--with something stupid like "Whoooomp there it is!!" winning. Of course, the astronauts probably wouldn't even bother saying anything after that first step. Today they would "tweet" on Twitter. "just stepped on the moon--thinking about how great it would be to have an iced cappaccino right now. I need to get some "moon" songs on my IPod."
To pay for the moonshot, NASA would likely have to sell corporate sponsorship like NASCAR--so "The Eagle has landed" would have to be "The Ford Motorcraft Little Debbie Snake Cakes Lunar Modual has landed. I would also like to thank the folks at Hooters and Quaker State for making this possible." Selling patches on spacesuits, stickers on the spacecraft and superimposing a corporate logo on the moon's surface as the astronauts walk around on TV would also be a great way to make some cash.
When you think about it, the 1960's were the perfect time for the the first moon landing. The Baby Boomers providing the youthful exuberance for the mission--and the Greatest Generation providing the work ethic and the know-how to get it done. Today, we'd rather just have a Nintendo Wii game that makes it feel like all of us are "walking" on the moon. Why put in all that hard work to actually go there?