Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fly me to the Moon

I'm quite excited at the news that the European Space Agency is hoping to land a robot-controlled probe on the Moon by 2018. The mission is seen as a first step towards humans landing on the Moon for the first time since 1972.

When people look back at the history of human exploration of our solar system, they'll surely wonder why we didn't visit our nearest neighbour for so long. Nixon's administration cut the budget for NASA's Moon missions in the early 70's - along with Lyndon Johnson's inner-city education programme - because of the spiralling cost of the war in Vietnam. Before that, most Americans watching men on the Moon expected to see a permanant base on the lunar surface within their lifetime.

The Moon landings are a bit like Concorde, an example of people co-operating to achieve something that is both technically complex and beautiful but which is then shelved because no-one wants to assume the cost of maintaining it on their own. If you were placing a bet, you'd have to say that the next person on the Moon will probably be Russian or Chinese.

No comments:

Post a Comment