Americans need to shoot for the moon again

Note: Hunter sent this column in about the moon. I’ve attached some links below to other items about America’s historic moon mission.

By Hunter Ford

President Barack Obama needs to take a break from running his mouth about the economy or Russian relations, and shoot it off towards the moon. To be sure, this is a crucial time in American history…but aren’t they all? The economy is in the toilet, terrorism still nips at our heels, and millions of Americans have no health insurance.

While we struggle with weighty issues that wound us all daily, we should not become dragged so far down that we can no longer see and aim for the stars.

Consider the words of President John Kennedy, delivered during a speech at Rice University in Houston on Sept. 12, 1962, challenging us to send men to the moon.

“We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.”

July 20, 2009 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the first manned moon landing. President Obama will host a reception with the crew of Apollo 11 that day. It will be a great opportunity for President Obama to use his considerable charm and popularity to re-energize America’s dedication to space exploration.

When American men landed on the moon forty years ago, it inspired not only Americans (mired in Vietnam and the Civil Rights struggle) but also people worldwide.

We could use that kind of inspiration again. There are other factors to consider. One hits close to home. A reinvigorated space program could greatly help Alabama. Huntsville, and north Alabama benefit enormously from NASA’s presence.

It also makes sense, at a time when our national security is an issue, to be the first country to establish a permanent base on the moon. I have seen reports that the Russians are working on that very idea.

Who owns the mineral rights to the moon? Well, if we (Americans) get their first, then WE DO!

I’ll leave you with more of President Kennedy’s speech from 1962. I’ve chosen some lengthy passages but feel they are well worth reading.

“Man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.
“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

“Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win. ”