Per Aspera ad Astra

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

It’s the inscription on a metal plaque on the legs of the lunar landing module which has sat for the last 40 years on a feature named the ‘Sea of Tranquility’ on earth’s Moon.last-years-mooncopy
For a geek there is no bigger day in the calendar than 16 July the anniversary of the moon landing. The_weapon and I have been trying to make a Lego tribute but the Lunar Lander (Lem) is proving a challenge. A much simpler tribute is the work of a fan using the lego from the time of the landings..
lego moon
Nothing since has fired the imagination of the world. No other event is pointed to as a pinnacle of our technological achievement to compare all others -‘if we can land men on the moon, why can’t we….(insert desired)?” was a frequent lament for the decades after. A generation of engineers and scientists were created because of the zeitgeist of the goal to land men on the moon. There was a feeling our future would be ever upward, a bright shinny utopia.

But it’s been forty years. Now we seem to view the future more with fear and trepidation, less optimism and enthusiasm than ever before.

Why ?

In that forty years were’ve discovered more, learned of wonders both sublime and gross, we have more people and hence more of the most evolved thinking machines ever devised living longer, with access to better tools and more information that we have had in the past centuries. To those who lived a thousand years ago we in countries like Australia, Britain and the United States would be judged as Gods. Even the rest of the world is racing to catch up to our opportunities.

Yes there are problems but hope beats despair any day for trying to fix something.

So we need a new Apollo program to once again inspire hope, but its hard to imagine one that will fire the imagination like the first. The Large Hadron Collider excites me and a lot of other geeks but hasn’t caught the public’s imagination, other than as a tool for hacks like Dan Brown to portray as the evils of science personified. The human genome project gets me hot and sweaty but had to generate an iconic image like the photo ‘earthrise’.

A permanent colony on the moon? Its an obvious step but more a commercial operation like setting up research station in Antarctica sur a technical challange but no ones going to make a movie about it. A walk on Mars?

No for me I want a crewed journey to another star system – that’s what I want to see.

But then to get the funding they would probably want to run it as a live streaming reality program something like Ron Battlestar Galactica Moore’s new series ‘Virtuality’ which is a little depressing. Not the show, though I am sure there will be depression in, after all if you are stuck on a ship with the same people for 10 years that’s bound to make you a bit blue at times. I meant depressing you need reality TV to drive space exploration.

Still Per aspera ad astra

I leave you with a piece of music which for many people, myself included, can’t hear without thinking of humanity’s exploration of space.

Richard Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. Op. 30 from 2001: a Space Odyssey

So what should be the next great adventure ?


  1. Next great adventure?
    How ’bout a skyhook (Heinlien not Shirly Strawn) type space elevator.
    Or a really kickass high speed maglev train.
    Or some new whizzo energy storage & distribution system.

    Lots of cool geeky things to do without leaving the neighbourhood.

    • Those are great, unfortunately all I can now think of is the idea of Shirley Strawn as the nexyt big adventure.

  2. Not really related, but I have driven past Footpath Astronomy a few times and have been meaning to drop one day.

    Might be a good thing to take The_Weapon along to one day.

    • Thanks Nautilius thats a great idea.

  3. Space elevator… yeah. That would work for me as a Grand Endeavour of Hope. And you’re right: we need one.

    • You realise that no way will it be situated anywhere usefull for people living in Tasmania

  4. Space elevator would really rock, It’s just really sad that the shuttle is being replaced with a tin can, and so so sad that the SSTO plan came to naught.

    I suppose the only question is how soon until we officially militarise space?

    • Chazfh there was an episode of the West Wing from about five years ago where it was revealed that the US had a Militarised shuttle all along but it only came out because it was the only way to rescue the stranded civilian shuttle. The only reason I think it wasn’t used in the recent shuttle incident was that the US government is reality not fiction.

      How soon?

      I think its begun.

  5. I’ll buy the space elevator. The stuff that could be done once we had one! Spaceships, stations, supply modules, asteroid mining, and all kinds of other cool things.

    • Space Elevator looks like the go

  6. Kim Stanley Robinson had a really cool space elevator in his Mars trilogy books…just ignore for a moment that terrorists brought the whole thing down though.

    On the moon landings – can you believe that some dickhead in NASA wiped the original recordings of the Apollo 11 landing because they wanted to cut costs and reuse the tapes? Some pencil necked actuary geek in a tiny office probably thought ‘Yeah sure its mankind’s greatest EVER scientific achievement to date…but we need to save money and reuse the tapes’. Idiot.

    • Kim Stanley Robinson’s space elevator did end well if I recall.

      I think that NASA guy got a job in the Australian Publiic Service after that on the basis of his cost saving measure.

  7. Definitely the Space Elevator, with that the cost of lifting anything out of the gravity well becomes affordable. From their Stations at L4 and L5.

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