July 20, 2019

50 Years

It's been 50 years since Neil Armstrong became the first person from this planet to set foot on the moon. A mere 7 years prior, an American president set this most epic of endeavors as a national goal, in the same year the first American Orbited the Earth. it should be noted that U.S. rockets were not particularly reliable at the time...

...yet in less than 7 years our civilization overcame immense technical hurdles to put 2 men on our nearest satellite. 10 more would follow.

 In 7 years, we had figured out how to do it reliably 6 out of 7 times and the reason for the one failure was quickly figured out and corrected for the subsequent missions.

Oh and we saved that crew too.

Now with the hard part done and over and a sevenfold increase in the time it took to do the hard part, one might expect that we could now vacation at 6 Flags on the Moon.

Instead, 50 years later the moon is adorned with...6 flags (one of which fell over).

50 years.

We have not been able, as a society to do what we did then.

Keep in mind that then we were fighting a land war in Asia, staring down the most implacable evil of the 20th century (which at the time had over 20,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us and defined peace as an absence of opposition to communism) and we were engaging in the final heavy lifting in expanding the American dream to all races. We were skeet shooting, chewing gum, talking, and horse-diving at the same time.

And yet, here we are.

Looking at old movies, of when we were young and free and full of hope.

Who robbed us of our future and how were we so foolish as to let them?

At least today we can look to Musk and others to pick up the dusty, forlorn baton...

...50 years late.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:58 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 327 words, total size 2 kb.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun Jul 21 12:05:25 2019 (LZ7Bg)

2 Stole the future?  Sadly, nothing so nefarious or reversible.  It's more that we never really understood what the Apollo achievement truly meant.  At the end of the day, Apollo and the other rockets were a lab experiment write large rather than a real program to push mankind into space.  
I grew up a space nut, wanting to be an astronaut through high school (though for a number of reasons I knew well at the time, it was never really in the cards).  As time wore on, I started asking these same questions: Why aren't we in space?  Then I started to understand what it really takes to get something from the lab discovery to a consumer product, and how much of the stuff discovered in a lab is really built on decades, or even centuries, of basic materials, physics, and other research.   I learned that to be able to build something once is a far different level of skill and knowledge than it takes to build something that is repeatable and affordable enough to do at scale.  As an example, much of the semiconductor industry today that can build such fantastically complex CPUs at massive volumes cheaply are building on technologies that trace themselves back to Charles Babbage in the early 1800s and even much earlier for some of the basic materials science used to build the tools in order to build the tools and is the result of many millions, if not a few billion, people working on the problem for the past couple of centuries.  
We'll get to space faster by investing in basic materials, power, HVAC,  aviation, and even submersible technologies that will eventually make the space-faring technologies low hanging fruit than we will by constantly shoveling into new Apollo style programs that create a lot of single-use equipment where we lose the knowledge gained shortly afterwards due to the lack of an ability to follow it up.

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Sun Jul 21 15:40:08 2019 (jl9eJ)

3 Ugh, sorry about the big block of text.  I had spaced between paragraphs, but I always forget that the mee.nu sites tend to remove blank lines and that I need to code them in via HTML.

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Sun Jul 21 15:42:17 2019 (jl9eJ)

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