20 July 2009

40th Anniversary of the Most-Watched Walk

Today is the fortieth anniversary since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their famous walk on the moon. Newly restored, high-definition video from NASA can be seen here.

Most of the media is covering this anniversary to some extent or another, but there seems to be a major question being asked in that coverage along the lines of: 'should we have bothered to go, and should we cancel future plans?' It's a disturbing question. Apart from the push forty years ago to be the best in the world (a drive the West in general seems to be losing on many different fronts), the question assumes that we can not or should not value endeavor. In a deep recession, it's easy to see why we wouldn't want to expend the funds right now, but in ten years? It's hard to see how we're going to accomplish anything further in space with the budget for NASA taking the brunt of science-spending cutbacks (over a decade). At a certain point, programs and personnel are cut to the point where the programs can not be easily restarted and important institutional knowledge is lost.

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