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Apollo 17 Landing Site
The landing site of the last Apollo mission, Apollo 17 (Click for full panorama)

    Citing space age triumphs to belittle our terrestrial failures has always been a case of Lunar apples and Earthly oranges. Here’s why.

Start: How many times have you heard that phrase?

“If we could put a man on the Moon … why can’t we end poverty here at home?”

“If we could put a man on the Moon … why can’t we put a stop to the war?”

“… end homelessness?”

“… put an end to racism?”

“… give everyone jobs that needs them?”

And, usually, the argument involves something to do with, “all that money thrown away into space.”

(This last part always struck me as pretty thick, because that money wasn’t getting packed off into space and squandered by Lunar spendthrifts — it was getting used down here.)

In all seriousness this is a good question, but the answer is actually staring right at us, if we’d think about it for a moment.

Lunar (or Martian) Apples and Earthly Oranges

In my last post, about Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars venture, I had a couple of comments here and on Facebook that sounded exactly like this sentiment, dismissing Tito’s idea as a pointless exercise and the use of otherwise valuable resources in a completely misguided way.

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    John F. Kennedy asked for the Moon. America delivered, yawned, and changed the channel.

International Space Station

Start: See the photo above? I ran across it a few days ago on Facebook (click on the photo to see the full, uncropped image — it’s really quite impressive). Once I’d seen it I had to track down the original — this is of the International Space Station, as taken from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on July 19, 2011.

See that little dot in the ebon sky to the right of the station?

It’s the Moon.

Remember that?

43 years ago this Friday, July 20, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. set their spindly, spider-like Lunar Module Eagle down in an all-too dicey landing amidst the boulders and dust of the Sea of Tranquility; and only a few hours later planted a specially-rigged American flag on its desolate surface.

How many people you know actually give a damn?

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