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Reply #26


Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:07 AM

26. Excellent news! I'm very glad to hear this!

It's time already! Not only for scientific purposes--for instance, to get an even clearer view of the universe (than Hubble) and to train and acclimatize astronauts and begin planning for human missions around the solar system, but also for the far (maybe not so far) future when earth's human population outstrips earth's resources and mass starvation and climate change disasters threaten the very continuance of our species.

We need to learn how to terraform planets and moons. We need to learn how to repair this planet. And we need to start planning orderly expansion of the human population to other habitats in the solar system. Really. Unless we prefer to die out like overcrowded rats in a cage, we need to actively and intelligently move outward. This is the practical side of the need for a new space program, but there is much more to it.

I read a lot of back and forth argumentation, not long ago, about moon station vs. manned mission to Mars, etc., but to my mind, the Moon station makes the most sense. It is in fact an important step toward a Mars mission. Those arguments were convincing.

Personally, I felt that there was something talisman-like--an extraordinarily auspicious omen--about the first human steps on the moon back in 1969. We are so small, though burgeoning with people and running out of space on our little speck of dust of a planet--and the universe is so mind-bogglingly BIG, that it is as if we were meant to "go there." I do not normally have such feelings and I don't normally credit such feelings--talismans, omens, hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-my-neck auspiciousness--but I had that feeling about this matter: human space travel. We MUST "go there." It is something in our make-up--the adventurous spirit, the hunger to explore, to "see what's on the other side of the mountain." It is so-o-o-o-o human! Studying the human treks out of Africa to all over the world, at the beginning of the human story, it's clear that this hunger is written in our DNA.

Somehow our questing spirit got held back and grievously frustrated after 1969. We should have done this--set up a station on the moon--long ago. It should have happened in the 1970s! But our war machine was too busy slaughtering 2 million Southeast Asians and over 55,000 U.S. soldiers...for what? For war profiteers! And our Texas oil men were too busy trying to figure out how to hijack our war machine to their purposes. And the rich were too busy becoming uber-rich at the expense of the poor. And on and on. A bankrupt democracy. A failed democracy, only too well illustrated over the last decade. A democracy incapable to feeding the human spirit!

This iffy story about a new moon venture sparks that feeling in me again: Yes! YES! We must "go there"! To be ourselves, we must "go there"! As Americans, who once had a sort of hyper-drive of adventurousness, that got twisted and horribly distorted into war and hatred and paranoia, we may recover who we are and BE who we are--not just in science and space travel, but also in progressive social policies, democracy and good will.

The two go together: a better, more just country, with responsive government and visionary leaders AND space exploration as the inspirer of science and education and source of lost self-esteem among our people.

Those who say "health care first" miss an essential point: the need to "hammer swords into plowshares" in a way that inspires everybody.

This is not a contest between health care and space travel. To change the political atmosphere and create a prosperous and joyful country, social justice measures and a positive national purpose need to proceed together, the one feeding the other. Otherwise, we will be stuck forever in this insane argument about "austerity." You defeat "austerity" and Ayn Rand/Koch Brothers poison by creating an alternative purpose to becoming uber rich and bullying the world.

A purpose for kids. A purpose for students. A purpose for workers in all fields. A purpose for small business, for decent corporations, for conservatives and liberals, for military personnel and peace activists, for dreamy people and practical people, for engineering geniuses and artists and for the "mom and pop" grocery store/deli owners on the corner--a focusing purpose for ALL, something we can ALL be proud of. A purpose to bring us together.

TOGETHER we can ALL see the need for decent health care. TOGETHER we can ALL see the need for a topnotch public education system. HOW can we be brought together? With a collective and highly inspiring purpose: to leave our cradle, earth, and venture into the big, big, big, BIG universe that is "out there."

I don't buy the argument that "we can't afford it" or that we should feed people--or provide decent medical care--instead of exploring the universe. The two things are joined. That's why JFK really started it all. That's why Caltech types (I have a number of them in my family) were thrilled by the idea of going to the moon and came together in such amazing, selfless working groups to perform miracles of engineering. It had little or nothing to do with Russia or the "space race" and everything to do with wonder and with HOPE--hope for a better country and a better world.

Come together in common purpose, with a shared dream, and miracles become possible all over the social and political landscape. We saw a number of those dreams come true in the 1960s era or originating from that era--civil rights for black Americans, women's rights, gay rights, Medicare, the environmental movement, the organic food movement--and I don't think it's a coincidence that that inspiring era of social progress exactly corresponds with the decade of development of the space program that ended in the moon walks.

That's history. That's the precedent--that the moon walks unleashed our people's creativity in all spheres. Or was it the other way around? Hard to say. What is certain is that, in that era, these two positive developments--moon walks and social progress--were intertwined.

This is now. Now can be even more creative and visionary, despite--or maybe because of--grave setbacks (lessons learned). But we need a spark. We need a common purpose. We need stimulation of that adventurous loop in our DNA. Humans inhabiting the moon or in a space habitat near the moon, looking outward and planning and executing insanely difficult voyages--that's the ticket!

Mobilize our people around this inspiring adventure and they will not think twice about the need for all the rest: educated, healthy people in a fair and just society, to, one day, inhabit the stars.

BIG PICTURE politics! I long for it. I hope we get it. I hope I see it again in my lifetime.

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bananas Nov 2012 OP
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LineReply Excellent news! I'm very glad to hear this!
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