“Let me say, as I sit here before you today having walked on the Moon, that I am myself still awed by that miracle. That awe, in me and in each of us… must be the engine of future achievement, not a slow dimming light from a time once bright.”
– Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
Apollo 11 Astronaut
Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest scientific achievements in the history of mankind — the first time a human stepped on a heavenly body.
Against tremendous odds, at spectacular cost and through three different presidential administrations, the goal was met and Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr. walked on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The success of the mission to the moon was seen at the time as a victory in the space race for the United States over the Soviet Union as well as a spectacular global attainment. Today, though, it is looked at with nostalgia and wistfulness.
The price of another trip to a heavenly body may be just too great.
A recent New York Times story reminds us that scientists opposed a manned mission, arguing that money should go to robotic exploration. And 48 percent of Americans polled in 1966, when asked which government programs could be cut, cited the space program.
Today, Americans have overwhelming positive feelings about the space exploration — about three of four citizens believe NASA funds should be maintained or increased.
President Trump once supported returning to the moon but last month said NASA should be focused on Mars.
Just returning to the moon would cost $20 billion to $30 billion, NASA estimates. A NASA-commissioned report said that exploring Mars by 2033 is not feasible. Travel to Mars is not possible by 2033, scientists say. The earliest possible date is 2037, they say with a price tag of $120 billion.
With Americans demanding their government pay for everything from college to healthcare, is there money to once again explore and reach for the stars?
We agree with Buzz Aldrin.
Let us not forget the great achievement of Apollo 11 — and what we all reaped from the great accomplishment.