Beyond the Moon

By Katie Ralbusky, Online Editor

With all the recent Sci Fi movies like Gravity, Jupiter Ascending, and Interstellar human interest in space has been rekindled and we once again look to the stars. However, it would be best to look to our past before we gaze longingly into our bright future.

On July 21, 1969 at 02:56 UTC, or Coordinated Universal Time, nearly 500 million people watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the moon. He uttered the famous phrase that many recognize to this day, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The nation and the world had finally succeeded in reaching beyond our own planet and making a step toward landing on other worlds. Our dreams of space travel appeared to be coming true.

One such witness was West Liberty’s own Dr. David Thomas. He stated, “I was fourteen in July of 1969, and I watched with wide-eyed amazement. I was proud that an American, Neil Armstrong, was the first to set foot on the moon. We had beaten the Russians in the space-race. However, I thought for sure that Armstrong would say, “Hey, it’s not made of green cheese.” I also thought that this was the beginning of more profound advancement into space exploration. I had also remembered that JFK had predicted in 1961 that we would have a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and he was right–by only six months, but he was right.” Many believed it would not be long before we reached Mars and stretched humanity out into the infinite void known as space. We dreamt of the day things would look like an episode of the Jetsons. Now it is the year 2015, we have yet to take a step past the moon.

What exactly happened to stop us from going beyond? Dave Gilbert wrote an article that mentioned how, “Closer to home, a fleet of NASA rovers has explored the surface of Mars sending back amazing panoramas and drilling into the rocks to test their composition. And it’s not just NASA. India’s first Mars orbiter is on its way to the Red Planet and private companies are also proposing adventures there.” So we have not entirely given up on going not only to the moon but to other planets. Although it is not hard to figure out with setbacks like the infamous Challenger why we have stalled and appear disinterested in space exploration.

An article by Lisa Winter stated that NASA announced one of their spaceships named Orion, “will bring four astronauts at a time to asteroids between Earth and Mars by 2025, and the first humans will reach the red planet in the mid-2030s. This venture into deep space will be the farthest humans have gone since Apollo 17 went to the moon in 1972.” This illustrates that humanity has not stopped striving for the new frontier. It was even mentioned on the Today Show  recently that a Dutch non-profit organization hopes to send people there by 2025, on a one-way trip, to establish a colony. Thousands all over the world applied and currently 33 Americans are in the running.

All those years since that fateful moment humanity continues to strive further than our own planet. It is easy to see how this would be difficult. Mars, our neighbor, is 33.9 million miles away. It would take at least four months to get there by the fastest space craft, and would be a one way ticket. Yet, people continue to volunteer to go and settle the planet, and who hasn’t dreamed of becoming an astronaut at least once in their lives? Humans might very well settle another planet in our lifetime. It is human nature to want to explore the great unknown and keep reaching for the beyond. That is why we keep funding the space program and sending various satellites out into space to search and locate new worlds. As stated by the show “Star Trek,” it is in our blood to, “boldly go where no man has gone before.”

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