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 Objectivism in Perspective
 
When we walked on the moon: Why are we on the mud?
The Atlas Society, United States Friday, July 17, 2009

Edward Hudgins
The world is marking the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Today, "entrepreneurs are creating the infrastructure that will make us a space-faring civilization and should provide the paths back to the Moon and onto Mars", writes Edward Hudgins in The Atlas Society.

As a child I was fascinated by astronomy and space, and I hoped to live to see the day when men would travel to the Moon. In 1969 I managed to snag a summer high school internship at Goddard Space Flight Center in Beltsville, Maryland. Thus I was able to be an extremely small part of one of the greatest human achievements when, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to land and walk on the lunar surface.

I was like a kid in a solar-system-sized candy store! I was able to watch the launch and splashdown from the control room; they let a kid like me just walk right in and sit in the visitors’ gallery! I was able to follow every step of the Apollo 11 mission; I still have my thick copy of the flight plan, labeled AS-506-/CSM-107/LM-5, and a hundred high-resolution lunar mapping photos.

Forty years later I reflect on the two meanings, one political, the other philosophical, of what happened on that “Where were you?” date.

 

... ... ... 

 

Enterprise in Orbit

 

NASA has failed, as it had to, to commercialize access to space—that is, to bring down the costs and improve the quality in the way the private sector has done for cars, air travel, televisions, personal computers, and cells phones.

 

But private entrepreneurs have been able to overcome many barriers placed in their way by governments, and in recent years have begun to provide access to space in the same ways that innovators in the past have provided so many other goods and services. In 2004 Burt Rutan won the private $10 million Ansari X-Prize by building a craft that could travel into space with a crew capacity of three, twice in a two-week period. He’s now working with airline and railroad entrepreneur Richard Branson to provide sub-orbital flights to the public at a price that will allow many people to venture outside of our atmosphere.

 

Elon Musk, through his company SpaceX, has designed and built private rockets from the ground up and recently launched a satellite. Robert Bigelow, through his company Bigelow Aerospace, has launched a one-third-size version of an innovative space station and plans to launch a full-sized model soon for a fraction of the cost of NASA’s orbiting white elephant.

 

Such entrepreneurs are creating the infrastructure that will make us a space-faring civilization and should provide the paths back to the Moon and onto Mars.

 

The Leap for Mankind

 

The Moon landing also highlights two views of humans and our place in the universe. When Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquility, the United States was in turmoil not only about then-current political issues like the Vietnam War and civil rights, but also about the means and ends of human life. As Ayn Rand noted at the time, Apollo represented the view that the human mind is our unique tool for survival and for flourishing, and that joy and happiness from our achievements, most dramatically represented by the Moon landing, are our proper goals.

 

... ... ...

 

But the great human achievements that are yet to come—returning to the Moon, landing on Mars, terraforming that planet’s atmosphere to make it into another habitat for humanity—will require a human life with all its requirements as the standard of value.

 

... ... ...

 

Pls read the complete article here.

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth-43-2210-Walk_on_Moon.aspx

This article was published in the The Atlas Society on Friday, July 17, 2009.
Author : Edward Hudgins is with The Atlas Society, in the United States.
Tags- Find more articles on - space exploration

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