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Give Me the Moon
Lunar base will be a bridgehead to human space colonization
Alex Argote (alexphil)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-15 05:33 (KST)   
On July 21, 1969, all eyes and ears were tuned towards the heavens, the whole of mankind seemed to peer into the distant reaches of space as finally the entire human civilization made the ultimate achievement-putting a man's feet in the dusty surface of airless moon.

On that historic date, American astronaut Neil Armstrong would be the first to step out from the Lunar module of Apollo 11 onto the very ground of Earth's old and closest heavenly neighbor, the mysterious moon. Millions still vividly recall Armstrong's famous remark upon marking the first ever footprint on moon soil, "thats one small step for a man, a giant leap for humankind." Millions of people watched the whole celestial scene unfolding from the grainy screens of millions of television sets with bated breath, with mixed emotions of awe, fascination, pride and even with fear as the two astronauts Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked and jumped on the lunar surface.

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It seemed as if the entire world stopped its madness of wars, violence, dirty politics and gazed towards the space, realizing for the first time that there are limitless treasures up there waiting for everyone's taking. From the remotest regions of drought-wracked nations of North Africa to the streets of New York and from the communes of Red China to the avenues of Paris, everywhere on the globe, people rejoiced at the successful Apollo 11 mission and hailed it as the collective success of human civilization. In a way the euphoria then can be summed up as the peak of the world's technology and industry. That small step upon the lunar surface was the totality of thousands of years of torturous and bloody human existence on this violence-torn Earth.

And so finally, mankind, for all its evil, was able to form a full, working technology with the almost insurmountable task of lofting man and tons of machine through miles of bone-crushing gravity and sending them out to space beyond the confines and relative safety of Earth's atmosphere. Since then, since that glorious date in 1969, millions gazed upon the darkness of space and not one entertained dreams of being up there too, walking on the moon and gazing at the marble orb of Earth. The world then had entered a golden age of space age.

Or has it? Soon after the excitement and euphoria of moon landings died down, NASA and the American people in general, seemed to have lost focus and enthusiasm in making further progress in space. The collective spirit driving the thrust to the stars seemed to slacken and it was as if the U.S. government became content to rest on its laurels once it achieved the engineering feat of reaching the distant moon.

Millions might be asking now. What happened to that giant leap for mankind? Whatever happened to the collective human dream of going to space, and to the stars? For no sooner than the celebrations died down, humanity soon got back to its age-old pastime of feeding primordial urges of bestiality, fratricidal wars, racism, and mindless destruction of nature. America became engrossed in the bloody rice paddies of Vietnam, where tens of thousands of American youth got wasted all because of the multi-billion dollar profits being raked by the greed of the military-industrial complex.

Everyone forgot that giant leap of mankind into creative science and engineering. Instead of every nation rushing to join the race to space, all governments were focused in building military institutions and nurturing the culture of violence, often towards the weak and vulnerable peoples for the self-aggrandizement of a few pampered elite of politicians operating on the reins of government mostly for their own personal gains and profits.

The space effort meanwhile floundered as it got scant world attention and NASA's wings became restricted with silly budget cuts and very low support in the U.S. Congress. It would be one of history's ironies and mysteries that an entity failed to take advantage of a momentum offered by momentous achievement. Having successfully landing a man on the moon and getting him back to Earth in one fully functioning piece, NASA failed to tackle the next obvious step in expanding territories like the explorers of the old have done. The U.S. government and NASA did not even planned then to build a working base on the moon. Instead, all the space powers like Russia, Japan, France, and the U.S. did was to painfully assemble costly and dangerous space stations orbiting menacingly within the immediate gravitational pull of the Earth.

These magnificent high technological contraptions that weigh thousands of tons grow in risky volume each year as more modules are added by shuttle missions. Floating up there in the blackness of space, these space laboratories have to be maintained every hour by ground controls or they would be plunging into fiery junk material though the atmosphere and might possibly pose a physical risk to humans.

Only very recently did NASA came to its senses and so announced a plan to start making a permanent human lunar presence by the year 2024. But its too long and distant in the future. NASA might be doing humanity a disservice as it had neglected to do the immediate dictates of the moment when Neil Armstrong made his historic mark. Doing a lunar base now will be a big psychological boost to mankind than an uncertain Mars mission will. There is absolutely no logical reason why a moon base is postponed until the next decade. A lunar colony is long overdue and should have been done years before. Once a human settlement is established in the dusty lunar soil, mankind will then have entered the real space era.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alex Argote

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